Pele's Process

June 19, 2018  •  Leave a Comment

Pele's ProcessPele's ProcessA 3:30 AM check-in and a 4 AM departure for the roughest and most memorable boat ride I have ever taken in my life. One hour and a half riding a mechanical bull of an aluminum catamaran to photograph Pele entering the ocean for the first time. I tried back in 2016, but the laze was too strong for my entire stay and no-one was allowed at the Kalepana viewing area. This time, she let me see her. And I am so thankful she did. Here she is making new land in what is Pele's Process.
Big Island, Hawaii
Pele's Process, Big Island, Hawaii

I, like many of you, have been following closely the recent events on the Big Island. The Kilauea eruption into Leilani Estates in Puna and the subsequent ocean entries in and around Kapoho Bay show the power of Pele and impress upon us the fact that our Earth is a living planet. The devastation is incredibly sad, but at the same time Pele's alluring beauty is undeniable.

PelePeleReviewing photos from the three days of lava viewing was intense. Burned houses, scorched earth, and the mesmerizing power of Pele-- her color, her power, her alluring proximity and extraordinary presence was making me a bit mad. I told Naomi about this feeling and she said, "It's natural. It's Pele." She is fierce. Believe that.
Big Island, Hawaii
Pele (24"x36") limited edition metal print is included in the Stay Healthy Stay Positive Sale. One print available at 50% off. Sale ends April 1, 2020.
Pele, Puna, Big Island, Hawaii

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I have had the chance to visit Hawaii island three times since last April, and on those trips I saw the Big Island as I have seen it before, and in new ways hitherto unimaginable. In April, the lava lake at Halema'uma'u was "normal", glowing in the dark hours like I had seen it in 2016.

NightfallNightfallVolcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii

As Night Falls a Halo Rises, Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii

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Then in May, the crater began to stir as earthquakes shook Volcano village and the Puna district multiple times daily, until the lava lake sank into Kilauea's underground tubes and channels. Next, the fissures opened from underground and eruptions into Leilani Estates spewed lava high into the air; lava pools and rivers formed; evacuations, roadblocks and checkpoints dotted the map; the loss and grief; and Pele's process began anew, creating new land in a display of awesome power.

Fissure 8, Leilani EstatesFissure 8, Leilani EstatesBig Island, Hawaii Fissure 8, Leilani Estates, Big Island, Hawaii

Lava Fountain PoolsLava Fountain PoolsA Flyover above Fissure 8 in Puna sees it shooting lava 220 feet high; the makings of a cinder cone along the back side of the lava fountain are apparent; as is, too, the lava river and it's ocean minded flow.
Puna, Big Island, Hawaii
Lava Fountain Pools, Puna, Big Island, Hawaii

A flyover Fissure 8 in Puna sees it shooting lava 220 feet high; the makings of a cinder cone along the back side of the lava fountain are apparent; as is, too, the lava river and it's ocean minded flow

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I photographed this event on two occasions-- late May and again in early June. In May, I went over for just a few days. In June, I went on a one way ticket and took all my camping gear and stayed a bit longer, determined to photograph this event from a safe distance and a respectful perspective.

Fissure 8 (Modern Art), Puna, Big Island, Hawaii 

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On June 4th I saw the lava fill into Kapoho Bay and knew that on tomorrow's boat ride we would not be a able to get close to the lava flow because of the reef and breaking waves.

Where Lava Meets SeaWhere Lava Meets SeaJune 4, 2018 a half mile wide lava flow reaches Kapoho Bay and covers the reef in new volcanic black rock and white steam.
Big Island, Hawaii
Where Lava Meets Sea with White Steam, Kapoho Bay, Big Island, Hawaii

A half-mile-wide lava flow reaches Kaphoho Bay and covers the reef and baths in new volcanic black rock and white steam.

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At 4 am on June 5th I boarded a boat and didn't really know what to expect, only that it would be a shorter ride than my fire one the week before since the lava ocean entry at Kapoho Bay was closer to Hilo than the first ocean entry of this eruption. This ride was less choppy than the previous and I got less wet. The red plume in the pre dawn sky was much larger and appeared as if it were mirroring the lava river flowing below in the sky above. When we approached Kapoho Bay we could see lava just beginning to lap into flames around the back of these ocean front houses. And then the flames grew, danced, and spread. One of the most helpless feelings I have ever had. And one of the saddest, too. 

Ocean Front Fire at Kapoho BayOcean Front Fire at Kapoho BayOn June 5th I took my second boat ride to photograph the active lava ocean entry. The day before I saw the lava fill into Kapoho Bay and new that we would not be able to get close to the lava flow because of the reef and breaking waves. So I boarded the boat and didn't really know what to expect, only that it would be a shorter ride than my first one the week before since the lava ocean entry at Kapoho Bay was closer to Hilo than the first ocean entry of this eruption. This ride was less choppy than the previous and I got less wet. The red plume in the pre dawn sky was much larger and appeared as if it were mirroring the lava river flowing below in the sky above. When we approached Kaphoho Bay we could see lava just beginning to lap into flames around the back of these ocean front houses. And then the flames grew, danced, and spread. One of the most helpless feeling I have ever had. And one of the saddest, too.
Kapoho Bay, Big Island, Hawaii
Ocean Front Fire at Kaphoho Bay, Big Island, Hawaii

Kapoho Bay (Burning Down the House)Kapoho Bay (Burning Down the House)On June 5th I took my second boat ride to photograph the active lava ocean entry. The day before I saw the lava fill into Kapoho Bay and new that we would not be able to get close to the lava flow because of the reef and breaking waves. So I boarded the boat and didn't really know what to expect, only that it would be a shorter ride than my first one the week before since the lava ocean entry at Kapoho Bay was closer to Hilo than the first ocean entry of this eruption. This ride was less choppy than the previous and I got less wet. The red plume in the pre dawn sky was much larger and appeared as if it were mirroring the lava river flowing below in the sky above. When we approached Kaphoho Bay we could see lava just beginning to lap into flames around the back of these ocean front houses. And then the flames grew, danced, and spread. One of the most helpless feeling I have ever had. And one of the saddest, too.
Big Island, Hawaii
Kapoho Bay (Burning Down the House), Big Island, Hawaii

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The power of Pele and her incredible beauty have never been more visible. I hope these images give you a sense of this energy and the wonder of our ever changing planet. Respect to Pele and hope and courage to all of those affected.


Aloha, 
Lee


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