On my first trip to the big island of Hawaii, we had lucky timing with the volcanic activity. The day before I took this photo, a lava tube broke, and all the lava was now running over the hillside instead of underneath it. I wanted badly to get closer to this spectacle, but the viewing area was roped off, and there was a security patrol to make sure nobody went where they weren’t supposed to go. Or so I thought. The viewing area closed at 10 pm, and at 9:55, three men came walking from the other side of the rope and in plain sight of the guards. None were wearing ranger uniforms, or showing anything indicating authority. I remember thinking “Who are they, and how the hell were they allowed out there?” I couldn’t make it back on this trip, so my thoughts of trying to figure out how to get past the rope were not going to make a difference anyway.
What you are looking at is not the source of the eruption. There was so much lava coming down, that this was where it met the ocean, causing it to shoot up in the air 300-400 feet. It was really hard to fathom the size of this event, and it wasn’t until I looked at the images blown up on the computer screen, that I saw that those men were in a couple of the frames providing a sense of scale.