Jan. 16

Congratulations to Spencer Pendergrass of Riverside, Calif., who captured this week’s top-rated image in the It’s A Snap travel photo contest. His image shows a lava flow on the Big Island in Hawaii caught with his Nikon D300.

Pendergrass, who is a professional photographer, traveled to the islands with his 14-year-old daughter, Kathryn, last summer in the hopes of capturing nature in action. “I have always loved seeing Mother Nature at work and have always wanted to see actual lava flowing with my own eyes,” he said.

When they reached the Big Island, they made their way as close to the spot where lava from the Kilauea Volcano was supposed to be flowing into the ocean, but was told by the National Park Service rangers that they would probably see only steam. But the rangers did note that a lava shelf had just fallen into the ocean, so anything was possible.

After a long hike over Kilauea’s lava fields, father and daughter chose a spot to wait and watch for flows. “I always feel that timing is so important in capturing nature, and we weren’t disappointed when the sun set,” said Pendergrass. “For about 15 minutes, the power of the lava flowing into the ocean and being cooled by the water was just a spectacular combination of forces in which you could hear the lava hitting the water, but far enough away for safety. …

“It was an experience I was hoping my daughter could witness and some great photos added to my collection. A great timing in my photo career.”

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