What makes this image expressive?

I was trying to convey the power of elemental natural forces – the awesome spectacle of the creation of new land by lava flowing into the ocean from the Kilauea volcano.

Specific Feedback Requested

Emotional impact
Feedback on use of color and contrast


Patrick, welcome to NPN from a fellow Portlander. I know you’ll get a lot out of this community. Looking forward to what Alister has to say.


1 Like

Thanks David for the warm welcome! I hope to connect with like-minded photographers. I am curious too to see what Alistair has to say. I hope I got this image uploaded in time. Emotional expressiveness is an important concept and one I tend to neglect in my images.

1 Like

Hi Patrick. Welcome to NPN. Wow! Dramatic image. Great capture. I can hear the sizzle.

1 Like

Stunning. What a view and excellent shot from a moving boat I assume.

1 Like

A very warm welcome to NPN Patrick, and what a way to enter!

I don’t think you could have picked better subject matter to illustrate elemental forces. This is very much what it says on the tin. This is something I have never witnessed and I always considered it a bit of a bucket list kind of this for me to do. Now, I am less driven by this need and can enjoy the elemental forces at play around the Scottish coast.

All of the things you ask for are in evidence.
Emotional Impact: Lava exploding into the ocean - a wow thing for sure.
Composition: The scene feels pretty balanced, the little spot of fire on the far right helps to keep things that way. There is enough foreground water to give it space, and the billowing steam above feels airy.

The blackness of the rock feels perhaps a bit too heavy, as if you have set an actual black point. Lifting that a touch would make the image flow a little more and feel just a fraction softer.

With such strong content, it doesn’t need too be pushed or forced. It takes a more delicate touch to show that you can experience this without having to add to it.

Amazing scene…

For some reason this reminds me of Adams’ Storm in Yosemite he took from tunnel view. I think it has the same emotional impact. Great job.

Hey Patrick! It’s great to see you here. This image is fantastic! I really like the color contrast between the cool blues in the water/steam and the warm lava. I don’t have any specific suggestions for how to improve this one, since it looks great to my eye.

Thanks Alistair your critique and for everyone’s welcome! Yes, this was shot from a small boat just off the coast of the island of Hawaii back in 2016.

1 Like

Hi Scott, thanks for the critique and compliment, not surprised you are a member here too!

I wish I could have been there to see this. It’s been on my bucket list for some time. I hope I get the chance one day if this starts to erupt again.
The composition is well thought out, particularly the inclusion of the little bit of orange on the right side of the frame. The water looks very rough so getting a sharp image of this must have been problematic and dizzying. You even have some water movement so your shutter speed was relatively slow. Amazing. What a story this tells. I can’t think of a thing to change on this.

Welcome, Patrick!! What a powerful image! In addition to the points above, you did a wonderful job of balancing the dark tonalities with what must have been much brighter molten lava. The one larger wave makes the relatively calm FG water feel foreboding. Congratulations on the EP – much deserved!

Thank you David! I was shooting at 1/60 at ISO 2000 with my previous camera, a Nikon D800. In hindsight I should have pushed the ISO further. The water was very rough in the small fishing boat. My wife got very seasick while I was snapping away. What a morning!

Thank you Diane!

Thank you Alister! I’ll try working on the blacks – nice suggestion.

1 Like

Thanks Andre!

Thanks Dan! Yes, we were in a small fishing boat just offshore. We left an hour before dawn and this was shot just as the sun was coming up.