12
Jan
2008

Stars and Lava from Mauna Kea

Last night I went up on the volcano Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaii to shoot some star trails. Originally I had hoped to get to the summit to include the observatories in my photos but the park ranger there chased us down on the way up and told us that we were not allowed to go to the summit at night. So we settled for a spot right at 12,000 where we had a nice view over the saddle between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. The skies were incredibly dark and clear last night. The main reason I wanted to go up to shoot star trails was to test out my new camera and see how well it performed under low light astronomy conditions at higher ISO settings. To make a long story short it performed really well. These were all taken at ISO’s between 1600 and 25,600. I wish I had had more time and more warm clothes so that I could have stayed out there longer and done some 20-30 minute star trails. The longest exposure I played with was 5 minutes. One suprise that I got up there was a chance to see the new lava flow down near Kilauea. From up on he volcano I could see glowing red clouds coming up through the inversion layer and when the inversion layer cleared momentarily I could actually see the lava on the ground. The scene made for some very apocalyptic photos.

28mm, f/5, ISO 25600, 30 seconds28mm, f/7.1, ISO1600, 300 seconds28mm, f/4, ISO3200, 50 seconds200mm, f/8, ISO3200, 180 seconds