Sep 262014
 

Pahoa Lava Flow

By Tom Niblick

Every year my wife and I close our studio for a week or two and go to the Big Island (Hawaii) to house-sit a friends cabin while he visits friends and family on the mainland. Our friend’s home is about halfway up the slope of Kilauea, the world’s most active volcano. The cabin had just survived Hurricane Iselle last month with only one casualty, an albizia tree. He was lucky. A few miles away Iselle cut a swath through the forest downing countless thousands of trees, power lines and closing roads, leaving the Puna district (southeast) without power and water for several weeks.

A second natural disaster is slowly creeping down the volcano and in less than two weeks will sweep across the main highway and isolate thousands of homes and farms. The Puu Oo lava flow, which started on June 27th, has moved towards the sea at a rate of 250 – 400 yards every day. We could not see the hot lava while we were visiting Puna because the lava was moving through inaccessible forest land and near access was blocked to all but local traffic. All we could see was smoke in the distance. All of this has changed two days later, as the lava has enter the Kaohe Homesteads subdivision, putting countless homes in danger.

Around September 24th as the lava will cross highway 130 and, unless the flow changes direction, will probably destroy the town of Pahoa. This has happened before when a similar lava flow closed the highway at Kalapana, burning homes and isolating hundreds of residents. The current flow promises to be even more dramatic.

The town of Pahoa is a charming place with several nice restaurants, coffee houses and markets. Inhabited by young and old hippies, it is a tropical paradise where nature’s children go to escape civilization and live a simpler life. Land was (and still is) inexpensive and living off the grid is common. However, there is a reason why one can buy land in paradise for less than $10,000 per acre – lava. Black lava is only a few inches beneath the surface with a sprinkling of moss and decayed forest litter for covering. The subsurface lava is also why so many trees went down in the hurricane, the tree roots were close to the surface and with no dirt to hold them down, tipped over in the wind.

Nothing is being done to divert the flow as native Hawaiians consider this disrespectful to Pele, the volcano goddess. In fact they are all busy cleaning their homes and cutting their lawns in preparation for “a very important guest.” Doing these simple tasks often spares houses and property. We took a day and did the same. Our friend’s house is now clean, cut and ready for Madam Pele, should she decide to shift her flow.

Should anyone want to see this once-in-a-generation event, they should get to Hawaii soon. Once the lava closes the highway, only local traffic will be permitted on the dirt road by-pass now being plowed. Even this emergency road lies between the lava and the sea. Disaster is inevitable. It may be many years before the flow stops and this corner of the island becomes accessible. Rooms and lodging will be scarce in Hilo which is about an hour’s drive from Pahoa. Arnotts is an affordable combo hostel, camp and lodge. A real treat would be to stay at the Volcano House inside the National Park. Bring a tripod if you want to shoot the lava at night and good shoes!

We would have loved to stay to witness this once-in-a-generation event but had a backlog of studio work and our own house sitter had other engagements. Ten days was all we could spare.

Of yes, I used my ever-present Leica M9 with 21 SEM, 35 type IV Summicron and 50 Summicron (Tiger Claw) lenses while Debbie, my wife, used her favorite camera, an Olympus OMD E-M1 with 12-40 and 60 macro Olympus lenses. She loves her little camera!
Photos:

1) Debbie shooting what is left of a bromeliad garden after host tree was uprooted in hurricane. Leica M9 with 35 Summicron.

1 Debbie
2) Bromeliad. Olympus OMD E-M1 with 60 Macro.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
3) Roads are closed except for local access. Leica M9 with 35 Summicron.

3 Road Closed
4) Lava is burning the forest about 1 mile from road. Leica M9 with 35 Summicron.

4 Lavainforest
5) Pele’s Kitchen in Pahoa. It is considered bad luck to name a business after Pele. Leica M9 with 35 Summicron.

5 Pahoa
6) Kaleo’s Restaurant in Pahoa. Leica M9 with 35 Summicron.

6 Pahoa
7) Kalapana Lava Flow. There was a road here once upon a time. Olympus OMD E-M1 with 12-40 zoom.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
8) Kilauea Iki Trail. This 4.5 mile hike takes you across a hardened lava lake which is still steaming from the 1959 eruption. Leica M9 with 21 SEM.

8 Kilauea Iki Trail
9) Kilauea Iki Crater. Ohia tree and ferns dot the crater. Leica M9 with 21 SEM.

9 Kilauea Iki Crater
10) Land for sale… cheap! Leica M9 with 35 Summicron.

10 Land4sale

Nov 162012
 

New Camera Friday! Sony RX1 arrives!

The Sony RX1 has arrived to me today, and I am excited about this one. It has been a few weeks since I shot with it at the Sony event and when I opened the box today I was reminded why I fell for it in the 1st place. SIZE and BUILD and QUALITY! I plan on a huge review for this camera but it just arrived so I will need some time with it before I can do that. For now I made a new video below showing some size comparisons with the RX1 alongside the OM-D, D-Lux 6, NEX-6 and the Leica Monochrom. You can hopefully get an idea of how small it is. I also gave a quick example of the AF in my living room. It is quick as in faster than the Fuji X cameras. About on par with the NEX-6, etc.

Watch the video below…just press play :)

I also took it outside to test the crop feature with a quick and dirty test shot because that is one of the most asked questions I have been getting about the RX1. 

The crop mode is basically a crop mode. You do lose resolution and size but quality stays. Also, this is only available to use in JPEG mode. I have an example below of a quick test shot showing what to expect with the crop modes. Basically the camera has a built in 35 f2 Zeiss lens. With a press of a button you can switch to a 50mm crop mode. One more press and you are in a 75mm crop mode. This can come in handy if you are shooting JPEG and you want more reach.

But you do lose resolution as it is like cropping the photo yourself though Sony does some kind of processing in camera to keep the IQ up there which I can say it does very well.

 

1st shot is the native 35mm shot, then the 50mm crop, then th e75mm crop – straight from camera JPEG.

 

So look for a full review of the RX1 soon along with reviews of the Sony NEX-6, Olympus 60 Macro and a quick review of the NEX-5R with it’s new features. You can pre-order the RX1 at Amazon HERE if you like.

Just a few of the RX1 images I may or may not have posted previously…

ISO 2000, JPEG

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ISO 8000 at night with 100% crop (click image)

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Speaking of the new Olympus 60mm Macro..WOW!!!

This lens is the best Macro I have ever shot with, hands down. Now, I have not shot with them all, nor am I some Macro guru, not even close. BUT I do know quality when I see it and this Olympus 60 2.8 is razors sharp even wide open, getting surgical when you stop down. One sample before my review…click it for latger. BTW, this was handheld at f/2.8. The 5-Axis IS works well with this lens. You can order this one at B&H Photo or Amazon.

So stay tuned everyone for much more on these cameras and lenses! Have a GREAT weekend, I will be out shooting!

One more from the Leica Monochrom and Zeiss 50 Sonnar, which is gorgeous on the MM!

My soon to be Stepdaughter. She had a clay mask on and still let me snap a pic :) 50 Sonnar wide open at 1.5

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