Saturday, October 3, 2015

Night on Haleakala

I had the opportunity to goto Maui in September and got to tack in a weekend leading into it.  I knew a couple areas I wanted to photograph in the summit of the volcano Haleakala and the Hana coast.  Me being me, I decided to pack my tent and sleeping bag so I could stay closer to the areas I wanted to photograph.  

Since Haleakala is at 10,000' above sea level, it is cold on top at night and sunrise, so I also packed a down jacket, hat and gloves.  Three things not usually in the luggage of those going to Hawaii.

For camera gear I wanted to travel light but also be able to photograph the Milky Way as well as landscape work.  I decided to bring one body- the Sony A7S.  It is a phenomenal night camera with super clean ISO 25,600 reults, which is perfect for night images of the Milky Way.  It is also decent in the daytime, 12mp is a little low for landscape however the images look great from it so I knew I would not get the biggest file size, but what I would get would be top notch.

After landing at the Airport at Kahaului, I grabbed a few food items, some water, and headed up the mountain.  I drove from literally sea level for an hour zig-zagging up the mountain to the Hosmer Campground which is right at treeline about 7,000'.  I was worried it might be full, after all it is a national park, but there were only three other tents set up there.  I found me a spot, set up the tent and drove for another 30 minutes to the summit.

On top I visited all the overlooks and looked over some possible compositions.  I had hopes the Milky Way would also be visible but was concerned it would be too far west in the sky to catch it over the crater.  It was cool and windy on the summit.

I stayed for sunset and then made my way back down to camp to get a little sleep.  I had been up for about 22 hours by that point with the long travel day and was asleep pretty fast.  

The moon was about half full and very bright, but would set about midnight.  I slept to 11:45pm and got up to head up the mountain, there I had the entire summit area to myself and photographed the stars, Milky Way and the Observatory on the summit.  It was very chilly up there.  My car thermometer said 38.  I was glad I brought a down jacket to Hawaii!

I stayed up the rest of the night photographing.  As I had feared the Milky Way and the galactic core was too far west in the sky but I was able to put it in a few images with the observatory.

A little closer to dawn the spiral arm of the Milky Way, which is the less bright arm of the galaxy that Orion is in, rose in the east.  That I was able to photograph above the crater and I was able to get a few nice night images.

After 4 pm the first of the sunrise watchers began to arrive on top.  Haleakala rises above the clouds and it is a popular sunrise destination for those visiting Maui.


By sunrise there were probably 500+ people and the parking lot was full.

I stayed until the sun crested the rim and grabbed a last few images and then made my way back to my tent about 7:30am.

Night on the summit was everything I had hoped.  I packed up my tent, put away the down jacket and headed for the Hana coast.



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