As a way of celebrating the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) will release 16 stamps illustrated with images from some of our National Parks. One of them, the USPS announced today, will show Haleakala.
The photo used in the stamp comes from Seattle photographer Kevin Ebi. Here’s Ebi’s story of how he got the shot:
When you think of Hawaii, you probably imagine continuous summer, warm water and hot beaches. But a couple hours after landing on Maui, I was in the freezing cold, pelted by hail, surrounded by thunderclouds. For a few minutes at a time, the sun would briefly break through it, using rainbows as spotlights to illuminate Haleakala’s volcanic cinder cones.
As a nature photographer, I was in heaven–or at least 10,000 feet closer to it.
Whether it’s because of the explosive growth of photography, or our need to take a break from our always-on, connected lives, our national parks are busier than ever. But for me, they can still be wondrous places of solitude. Such was the case that afternoon I spent chasing Haleakala’s rainbows.
My day started as a scouting trip. Haleakala is known for stunning sunrises. Getting that sunrise would require me to arrive at my shooting location while it was still dark. I decided to take a look at the crater during the day in order to determine where I wanted to be the next morning.
But the closer I got to Haleakala’s summit, the less I could see. The fog got thicker and thicker. Then there was heavy rain. Then the rain turned to hail. I sprinted from the car into the visitor center, hoping to catch a bit of the view through the window. All I could make out was the railing of the viewing platform.
It quickly became clear that the storm wouldn’t stop. The few visitors in the center sprinted to their cars. I decided to stay put.
Then something amazing happened. The hail turned into a light drizzle. Sunlight poked through a tiny hole in the ominous cloud. And a rainbow dipped into the crater.
I managed to get a few shots before the sun slid back behind the storm clouds and the pelting hail resumed. It was a beautiful scene. Much of Haleakala’s beauty comes from its rainbow-colored rocks. The rainbow in the sky complemented that nicely.
But I hoped for better placement of the rainbow. In those first images it was off to the side of the crater. I knew that as the sun moved across the sky, weather permitting, rainbows later in the day would land closer to a core group of cinder cones that I found especially attractive. And so I waited.
During the hour and a half I spent on the rim, the storm gave me just six opportunities to photograph rainbows. My favorite image–and the one that is used on the stamp–was taken during the next-to-last ‘window.’ It was also the briefest opportunity. I was able to shoot only a single frame before the rainbow vanished.
Back in the car, with the heat and the de-fogger set on high, I was thankful for the experience even though I was soaked. In all of my work as a photographer, I treasure most the images that show nature at its dynamic finest. Braving an intense hailstorm is just part of the experience–a key part of the experience.
National parks take us into a different world, a world of jaw-dropping scenery and experiences that are dramatically different from our daily lives. This image of Haleakala is both to me. And it’s why I’m so honored that it will help commemorate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.
The first-day-of-issue ceremony for the stamp, along with the 15 others in the series, will take place on June 2 at New York City’s Javits Center at 11am, the Apr. 15 news release stated. The ceremony will be part of the once-a-decade World Stamp Show-NY 2016.
In addition, “dedication ceremonies will also take place at or near each of the National Parks depicted on the stamps,” states the news release. “Individuals are asked to spread the news on social media by using the hashtags #NPSStamps, #FindYourPark or #NPS100.”
The postal service seems to be announcing the National Park stamps alphabetically. Here are the other stamps nine stamps that have been announced so far:
• Acadia National Park
• Arches National Park
• Assateague Island National Seashore
• Bandelier National Monument
• Carlsbad Caverns National Park
• Everglades National Park
• Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve
• Grand Canyon National Park
• Gulf Islands National Seashore
Photo: Kevin Ebi