Visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park had been on my bucket list for quite a while. When I had the opportunity to visit and photograph the park as part of Microsoft's centennial program for the National Park Service, I jumped at the chance.
I left on short notice, but I spent hours researching the park prior to my arrival on the Big Island. I also contacted local photographer, Dave Lopez. He flew in from Oahu, and we spent 4 days exploring the park.
We explored the Thurston Lava Tubes on Day 1. The lava tubes are fun, easy to explore and the perfect daytime activity to escape soaring temperatures.
The next day we met Park Ranger Jessica. She told us Hawaii Volcanoes National Park is also celebrating its centennial this year. Founded on August 1, 1916, the park was the 15th national park. It predates both the establishment of the National Park Service itself (August 25, 1916) and Hawaiian statehood (August 21, 1959).
Hawaii Volcanoes National Park has 36 miles of coastline, and we explored most of it.
Every mile is beautiful.
The main draw for us was the active volcano, Kīlauea . After sunset, fumes and glow from the lava lake within the Halema'uma'u vent at the summit of Kīlauea cast a vivid glow that illuminates the clouds and plume (weather permitting).
Watching the volcano at night is pure bliss. The orange glow feels almost mystical.
We were excited to shoot at night. The Big Island of Hawaii boasts some of the darkest skies in the U.S., but persistent rains and cloud cover did not make our task easy.
One night, as clouds kept the skies hidden from view, we struggled for two hours to capture the Milky Way. As we headed back to the car, we turned around one last time. The Milky Way appeared for a few minutes, and we scrambled to take as many shots as possible before the clouds rolled in again.
We battled rain and clouds for the remainder of our trip, but we didn’t give up. When the Milky Way made a brief appearance, we were ready for it.
I thoroughly enjoyed my first trip to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park. Despite four days in the park, I barely scratched the surface of all this park has to offer. I can't wait to visit again!
Prajit Ravindran started his photography journey eight years ago. He dabbled in different genres of photography before focusing on landscape photography and traveling to 22 states to capture the natural beauty of the United States. He moved to Utah five years ago and fell in love with the state and its rich, diverse landscape. Prajit is now based in Salt Lake City. He loves to include a human element in his photographs to add a sense of scale and to inject energy into the image. Follow Prajit on Instagram @irockutah.