East Austin, the ArModelo & Longhorn Caverns

I spent last weekend in Austin with a few good friends from grad school. We’re spread across the country at the moment – two in Boston, one in Boulder, and one in San Francisco – and decided to get together somewhere that (1) is fun and (2) had cheap direct flights for all of us. Austin delivered on both fronts, easy decision. Before continuing, I have to thank my amazing wife Laura, who encouraged me to have one last weekend away before our son arrives. So, a quick recap on some highlights. I’ve been going to Austin at least once a year since 2012 to visit Laura’s family, and I’m still excited to find excuses to go back. No other US city has Austin’s mix of

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Hamakua, Waipio, and Pololu

For our final two days in Hawaii Laura and I stayed at a B&B on a ranch in the Hamakua region up north. The drive up to the ranch was six miles off the main road, three of which was through a eucalyptus forest: Here are a couple of horses on the ranch: We drove out to Waipio Valley one afternoon, and did the mile hike down and back up: Afterwards, we drove out to Pololu Valley. Unfortunately the weather turned overcast when we got there, but we had some good rainbow sightings on the way: Many more pictures on my photography site.

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

Laura and I visited the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden outside Hilo on our drive from Volcano to Hamakua. It far exceeded our expectations and I’d highly recommend an hour or so stop if you’re on the Big Island. The garden is along a trail that’s roughly a mile loop. It’s located off a scenic road which was among the best drives we did on the island. Just a mile south of it is the Onomea Bay Trail, which we walked as well. The trail actually passes through part of the garden, but you can’t get into the main area without first buying tickets at the main entrance. Here are some highlights from the botanical garden: And here are a few shots taken from the Onomea Bay Trail:

Photographing the Milky Way

I’d never photographed the night sky until last week. Living in the Northeast, it’s rare for me to have a clear opportunity without lots of light pollution. And when I’ve been lucky enough to travel somewhere remote, I’ve generally been without a tripod or the right lens. In Hawaii, light pollution is low and visibility is great, so I decided to give it a try while Laura and I were visiting. Here’s what I used for settings on a Nikon D7200 with a 16-80mm lens: manual mode, ISO 6400, focal length 16mm, f/2.8, shutter speed 25 seconds, and focus just a few millimeters to the right of infinity. I tried a few slight variations of those, but found the results weren’t as good. I shot the first bunch while

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Lots of Lava and Steam

Picking up from the previous post on where to see lava in Volcanoes National Park, here are my shots from the Kalapana lava flow site. We arrived around 5:30pm, just before sunset. I had a lot of trouble choosing which pictures to post, but these are the highlights. Lots of steam coming off the ocean as the lava hits the water: Here there’s some lava shooting up into the air – it gets a little too close to the boat: This is my favorite shot of the bunch. I love the steam patterns over the ocean with the silver water and boat driving away: As it gets dark, the glow becomes brighter: Lots of explosions in the steam: This was by far my favorite part of our time in Hawaii. I’d never

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Two Ways to See Active Lava Flow in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

One of the things I was excited to see in the National Park was molten lava flow. This is something that you can only experience at a few places in the world at the moment, and Volcanoes National Park is one of them.  After some research, I found that active flow has been relatively consistent in two places, with great visibility. The first option is easy. A couple miles from the park entrance is the Jaggar Museum, which has a viewpoint overlooking the active Kīlauea Caldera. The caldera is about a half mile away, so you can’t get close, but it’s still an incredible view. It’s best to go at night, as during the day it can be difficult to see the lava itself. Even

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Two Days in Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park

Following our beach day in the Kona and Kohala coast area, and then our drive to Volcano, HI with a few stops along the way, Laura and I had two full days in the National Park. Unfortunately, it rained like crazy the first day. We were told it was the heaviest rain the area had gotten in years. But we ventured into the park anyway, hoping to catch a break in the downpour. We stopped at the visitor center for some recommendations on hikes, and Mark, a ranger, convinced us that despite the rain, and despite the forecast for 24 more hours of rain, the park was filled with “micro climates” and there could be plenty of relatively dry areas. So

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Drive from Kona to Volcano

After our first day at the beach outside of Kona, Laura and I drove to Volcano, HI to spend a few days in Volcanoes National Park. We first stopped at Big Island Bees, a local honey farm that’s south of Kona and is just outside Captain Cook. We picked up a few jars of honey, and I was able to get a few shots of one of their demonstration hives, which was inside a large glass container: Just around the corner, we found a beach with perfect blue water: The guy at the honey store had recommended a hike along our route that’s only open on weekends. It’s called Kahuku and is in a separate section of the National Park

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Turtles, Lava Rocks, Sunset

Laura and I arrived on the Big Island Thursday evening for a week long getaway, and we had our first full day yesterday. Had perfect weather, a great start to the trip. Here are a few of the highlights. A bird on a tree while we were having breakfast at our B&B outside Kona: Some turtles, or Hono, on the beach at Kaloko-Honokohau National Historic Park: Some lava stones at Mauna Lani: And then finally the sunset from Anaeho’omalu Beach: Time for day two.

The Center of People

Via Joost Bonsen, whose Development Ventures Class in the MIT Media Lab was among the best course decisions I made in grad school, a graphic that’s trending on reddit showing the world’s population by longitude and latitude: From the graphic alone, I would have guessed this was in northwest India, but after looking up the coordinates, it turns out the center of people is just over the border in Pakistan: Coincidentally, as a direct result of Joost’s course, I ended up conducting some research on food waste in India right by the border, just 100 miles from the above coordinates in Pakistan. Here’s what it looks like: