pele flows

wpid612-20090620-7702-Edit.jpgWe went down to the Kalapana lava viewing point last night. The entry seems to have moved over since the last time we were there in January. But the colours were still pretty spectacular.

wpid610-20090620-7693-Edit.jpgMost surprising of all was the amount of surface flow that we saw streaming down the side of the mountain. It really was impressive, more especially for me as I have never seen that much surface flow before. Ever so often you would see a bright light as a tree caught fire and lit up like a candle. Impressive!


summit sunrise #4

summitsunrise4I haven’t done one of these for a while now as I haven’t been up to the summit since before Christmas. So here’s an image I took on my previous visit, from the gantry of the JCMT, of a snow covered Pu’u. The Sun was rising to the east and I used the light it cast onto the side of the Pu’u to split the composition between light and dark and into something that I thought would look interesting.

enfuse – what does it do?


Some of my colleagues at work have been asking me this question and I’ve been responding by vaguely saying the right words and waving my hands around. So I’ve done what they should have done (and I should have done before them!) and gone to the interweb for the relevant information. The first hit is the Panotools wiki page on Enfuse.

Enfuse is based on a paper written by Tom Mertens, Jan Kautz and Frank Van Reeth, in which you’ll find much more detail than I’ll be providing here. As the page explains, the basic premise to enfuse is to compare overlapping input pixels and to filter the best information from among them through to the output pixels. So how does it choose the “best” ones. It uses criteria based on exposure, saturation and contrast.

  • exposure : it chooses those pixels which are closest to the middle of the range as those are considered the best exposed;
  • saturation : here, enfuse favours the most highly saturated pixels;
  • contrast : again, those pixels which are going to provide the highest contrast are favoured. It uses the local standard deviation as a metric for contrast.

On top of all this, the problem that the Enfuse algorithm needs to solve is to arrive at the best solution that satisfies these criteria and produces a smooth resultant image.

In the Lightroom plugin to Enfuse, the relative importance of these three criteria can be controlled with sliders in a window. Shown below are the recommended defaults that I’ve been using, and haven’t ventured from. I need to explore these a bit more (for instance, why is contrast given a zero weight?). There are also advanced options to investigate, but may or may not actually prove useful.


Expect more as and when I learn it. In the meantime, for comparison you can see the original image to that above of the Halema’uma’u plume, heading towards Hilo and as seen from Mauna Kea, in this earlier post.

The impact of Big Island vog on the state of Hawaii

It was a quiet weekend for me with regard to this blog as we were in Kona for a  swimming meet. More on that later, in the meantime…

In his post, A Very Voggy Day, Andrew provides a nice link to the MODIS satellite which took  visual images of the island. The clouds are the really white, fluffy stuff. The murky, grey looking stuff is the vog which is generated by Kilauea and which the trade winds carry off to the rest of the island chain.

The image dramatically demonstrates how, when the trade winds are blowing, the best place to be is the east coast of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Halema`uma`u’s plume heads for Hilo

On the way down from the summit after finishing for the night we noticed something spectacular.

It wasn’t a great night – it was cloudy throughout which closed off the other optical and infrared telescopes, but because the JCMT is a submillimetre (i.e. sensitive to microwave radiation) telescope we can see through the clouds. However, the stability and ‘wetness’ of the atmosphere above us was poor, so although we could work it wasn’t great.

It was cloudy above but it was clear down to the coast and we had a great view of the volcano. In these pictures you can see the plume of volcanic emissions coming from the Halema`uma`u vent from the top of Kilauea volcano. Tom had some nice pictures of it close up when he went on his ‘shopping trip’ this weekend. The pictures below aren’t as clear as I would like (click on them to get a better look) as the Sun hadn’t fully risen yet so getting the right exposure (bright sky & dark ground) was tricky as I wanted to try and preserve some of the colour in the sky – I’ll see if I can improve them a bit when I get them into Lightroom on my return home.

I never cease to be humbled by the place we are privileged to call our workplace. It always gets me as we drive down from the summit, the fact that we are (usually) looking down onto the cloud tops rather than up. In these images we are looking down onto another volcano as its exhaust plume is carried away by the wind.

Ah, but notice, where is that plume heading? Not out to the ocean as usual. That’s because the trade winds that usually come in from the east and carry the vog (a uniquely Hawai’ian term, I believe, for ‘volcanic fog’) out to the ocean and beyond (and affecting the sky lines and respiratory systems of folks on our neighbour islands) are not there. Not this day. The winds were coming from the west (we call them ‘Kona winds’) and carrying the vog straight to Hilo!

I spoke with Mila that afternoon and she said that the vog was particularly bad that day…. no wonder.