This Volcano Photo Is Fire—or Lava, if We’re Being Technical
Eruption at Kilauea, Hawaii.Alexandre Hec - click to enlarge
Timing is everything in photography. But luck helps, too.
Alexandre Hec learned this sitting on an inflatable boat bobbing off the coast of Hawaii as Mount Kīlauea poured lava into the sea. As he trained his DSLR on the steam and debris plumes, a crater opened on shore, spewing a fountain of lava 10 stories high. “I was very lucky,” the French photographer says. “The boat pilot said he’d never seen anything like it.”
Luck? Maybe. But persistence played a role, too. Hec travels the world indulging his hobby shooting volcanoes. He’s photographed 15 of them in eight countries. He especially likes Mount Kilauea, which has over the past 30 years expelled enough molten rock to coat 48 square miles. “Sometimes it looks like you are not on earth,” Hec says.
Hec rowed to the same spot three nights and snapped thousands of frames. None of them quite worked for him. Persistence and luck converged on his last night in Hawaii when the crater opened less than 400 feet from him. He captured this photo with a 70mm lens, a shutter speed of 1/350, an aperture at F4 and an ISO at 800.
Although Hec made the photo in 2008, the Natural History Museum in London recently named it a finalist in its prestigious Wildlife Photographer of the Year award. The gorgeous image is as much a testament to nature’s awesome power as it is to Hec’s remarkable patience and good fortune.
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