Chasing Fogbows

I have been flying a lot in the Saddle over the last few months. It helps that I can simply leave for work early, stop off and blow through some drone batteries, before heading on to Hale Pohaku where I meet the rest of the crew for a day on the summit. The process can be reversed on the way back down the mauna in the evening after work.

On these short days late in the year this means flying right at dawn and sunset, creating very dramatic light. The rich colors are simply great for photography of this beautiful area of lava flows and cinder cones.

What makes the are even more spectacular is the cloud layer. As you drive up the mauna you pass through the clouds. I love to stop and fly right at the top of the cloud layer, where the fog lays in against the mountain. I am sorely disappointed on those mornings that the fog is not there!

The result of these flights is lot of great video, I just need to put something together to share it.

Of course a good video needs great music. I am indebted to Chris Stark, a local artist who graciously allowed me to use his track Dancing in the Rain as the backdrop for the video. I encourage you to head over to his website ChrisStark.com to check out his albums.

Chasing Fogbows from Andrew Cooper on Vimeo

Morning Fogbow

As you drive to the top of the cloud layer you hit a point where the fog and the sunlight mingle. This is often between 7,000 to 9,000 feet, a mile or three below Hale Pōhaku. Passing through this zone is often a beautiful event in the day, rainbows, fogbows and misty shadows fill the mountain air…

A fogbow formed from drifting fog blowing across the Mauna Kea access road. Click on the image to peruse the panorama properly.

A Fogbow, A Glory and the Spectre of the Brocken

When doing a dawn hike on Mauna Kea it is important to choose your altitude with care. You really want to be right at the top of the cloud layer. There, where the fog drifts over in alternating shifts with the sunlight, there is where the magic happens. Mamane in the fog, puʻu appearing and disappearing, and fogbows. Add fog and you have all the ingredients for some good photography.

The plan had been to spend the morning on the summit doing some testing. When that got cancelled I quickly dropped into plan B… Go hiking. I got the altitude right.

The spectre of the brocken was a nice treat. At the center of the fogbow you can see a glory, and in the center of the glory is my shadow looming large in the mist. That is the spectre.

A beautiful fogbow, a glory and the spectre of the brocken on Puʻu Palaolelo
A beautiful fogbow, a glory and the spectre of the brocken on Puʻu Palaolelo

Postcard from the Summit – Mamane and Fogbow

As you descend from Hale Pohaku in the afternoon you often drive into the top of the clouds at about 6,000-8,000ft elevation. The transition from clear blue skies to fog is often stunningly breautiful, a zone where light does interesting things. This zone is haunted by ghostly phenomena… As long as the Sun angle is low you will see fogbows here…

Mamane & Fogbow
A favorite mamane tree framed by a fogbow along the Mauna Kea access road