Videographer Mick Kalber shares his prespective on the creating of
VolcanoScapes and VolcanoScapes II.

“VolcanoScapes… Pele’s March to the Pacific!”

        “The high fountain eruptions of the early to mid 1980’s are undoubtedly the most spectacular events of the current eruption… It was during this period that I am first introduced to Kilauea volcano close-up.  On March 15th, 1985, KHON-TV news director Kent Baker calls me.  He says go to Hilo Bay Air and fly in a helicopter with John Greenway to shoot the eruption at Pu`u `O`o. 

        Frankly, I am unprepared for the event.  Decked out in casual attire… thin cotton pants and a t-shirt, this first flight past the one-thousand foot-high fountain takes me by surprise.  The heat is so intense I think the hair on my arms is catching on fire... it’s like being too close to a barbeque.  I’d been shooting film and video by that time for nearly fifteen years… and yet I’m having trouble remembering how to adjust the lens on my camera! 

I scream in delight at my first encounter with the Fire Goddess Pele… but I tell John Greenway, my pilot that I might not be able to go that close the next time… it’s simply too hot… and we were at least a quarter mile away!  John laughs… but takes a serious look to check for paint bubbles on the chopper.

But for some reason, although we fly even closer that day, it never seems that hot again.   I call that first time Pele’s kiss… her greeting to me, the new videographer.  I am blessed.  It is fabulous… one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in my life.  I can’t wait to do it again.” 

“VolcanoScapes II… Kilauea Volcano Rages On!”

        “My helicopter pilot, John Greenway and I are on our way to the vent to drop off some folks from the US Geological Survey.  The cone still retains most of its height now… around 7 or 800 feet, but the collapse has widened the throat from about sixty feet to over four hundred feet across.  Thru the steamy haze I can see incandescent lava, crackling from the depths of the earth, leaping onto the walls of the cinder cone.  Incoming lava from beneath Pu`u `O`o’s internal lava lake gushes into a dome about fifty feet in height.

        As he drops us off, John tells me he’ll be back to pick me up in about twenty minutes… he needs to make a flight for the scientists to check on activity at the coast.  So I know my time at the vent is short.  The problem is I can’t just stand back safely from the edge and shoot… in order to see the activity, I have to shoot straight down into the fiery abyss… and to get there, I have to step over huge cracks in the cone in order to set up right at the precipice of the vent….  One false move and I’m toast!  And how long will the section of cinders on which I’m standing remain attached before they too tumble into the boiling lava lake?  Who knows. 

        If I’m not shooting I probably can’t stand here.  I quickly do what I know I have to do… focus, roll tape, zoom, try to stay as steady as I can… Because I’m preoccupied, I don’t really think too much about the dangers…  But for weeks afterward I ask myself… “what in world was I doing out there?!?”    But the images are fabulous… priceless… capturing activity I have never seen before… and am unlikely to see again.”

“VolcanoScapes II… Kilauea Volcano Rages On!”

        “We’re documenting Kapa’ahu resident Bob Paloucci battling lava flows that have buried his property… and now the ex-marine’s house is in imminent danger.  Bob uses a garden hose to “freeze” the flow and force it to move in a different direction.  It works… for a while.  That evening, as the lava flow stagnate once again, we realize we will have to spend the night there... somewhere.  Maurice chooses Bob’s place… the house threatened by lava just six feet away!  I think he’s crazy.  I’m not about to stay there… so I spent the night in an abandoned house on a hill above the flow… a much safer location, or so I think.  Oddly, the house I’m in ends up burning down first.  Fortunately not while I’m in it however.  I guess Maurice knew just a little bit more about the volcano than I did.” 

“VolcanoScapes II… Kilauea Volcano Rages On!” &
“VolcanoScapes 3…Living on the Edge!”

      “The loss of the Queen’s Bath in Kapa`ahu hits me hard.  My kids and I love going to the popular swimming hole in the mid-80’s.  Its crystal clear waters nestled in the large lava rock crack provide a great place to swim, sunbath or just relax.  Guava and passion fruit are readily available.  It’s the perfect spot.  So it is with great sadness that I witness its demise in the spring of 1987.  And it was just prior to that inundation that I had my fist encounter with a methane gas explosion.  Park Ranger Mardie Lane took a still photographer and me to a small heiau, a rock platform used historically as a Hawaiian temple.   The lava is surrounding it on its way to the Queen’s Bath.  As we stand on the rock I hear a loud

crack and a rush of gas up my pants leg.  I know instantly that it’s methane gas, created by organic matter that decomposes without oxygen.  It is often ignited by the heat, but this time, thank God, it remains in its vaporous form as it travels up my leg.   As you might well imagine, we take off like rabbits.
      A similar, but potentially even more deadly experience occurs while we are waiting for the first house in Kalapana to be taken by Pele’s fire in early 1990.  The lava has surrounded the house, but slowed in its approach.  Several photographers lie down on the grass to sleep a bit during the night.  They awaken and move as activity picks up… just moments before a huge methane explosion blows a five-foot square hole in the very place they’ve been sleeping.  Understandably, this event makes for many restless nights thereafter."
VolcanoScapes 1 and 2

Tropical Visions Video Inc.| 62 Halaulani Place | Hilo, Hawaii 96720
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