It's just an hour left before our takeoff to the Holuhraun eruption site. With the time pressing on, the intense feelings regain control over me. On one hand, the sweet excitement of the forthcoming long-awaited date with an erupting volcano doubles with every passing minute. On the other, despite having read tens of articles both about aerial and volcano photography, I feel anxious, unsure of whether we'd be able to take the pictures I so much crave for.
We have already realized the mistake we had made by renting a crop sensor body as our second camera for the job, that is why now we must be a lot more careful in considering our lens choice. But then, to begin with, comes the dilemma of wide-angle vs. telephoto as we can't estimate the size of this thing, nor the distance we'll be photographing it from. Next, we need to decide which lens to mount on which body, and then how to share out the photo gear between ourselves (remember we'll be flying in different planes?).
Incapable of making a well-reasoned judgement, we just stand there, at the airport, in the middle of the parking lot, desperately looking for some help. Until we spot the landing Cessna. And then, the hefty cameras hanging on the necks of two men who's just stepped off it with big grins on their faces. Gotcha! What's more, it turns out one of these friendly guys is not just some pro photographer, but one of the Canon's Explorers of Light, Ken Sklute! Not only we get the chance to know what to expect of the flight and preview the eruption scene, but we also gain the much-needed technical know-how straight from the pros (Thank you, Ken, once again, for the insight and valuable tips)! And in the midst of the nice chat we've started, it finally occurs to us. The single seat in these Cessna 206 aircraft we're going to fly with is the one beside the pilot, i.e. the place with the best view, and both of us get it! Everything happens for a reason, doesn't it?
6 p.m. It's time to take off, at last. And after 20 minutes of cruising over a bleak volcanic landscape, we finally see the telltale giant white gas plume, a mixture of sulphur dioxide, water vapor, and carbon dioxide, rising from the eruptive site.
Holuhraun eruption, 20 September 2014
the center and biggest crater, Baugur
lava spew and spatter, abstract
While I'm focused on taking the sharpest close-ups of the lava I can, my man, determined to present me the best pictures of the volcano possible, regardless of the space obstructions and the terrible visibility through the dull plastic plane windows, morphs into Barbapapa and starts shooting at all angles and directions, even through the front window. And so, the plane I'm on gets into his frame too (note that, because of the perspective, the crater on this photo appears much smaller in scale to the plane than it really is).
it's me in that Cessna, witnessing an erupting volcano - a dream come true
giant lava cake - the smaller Krakkinn crater
the inactive Suðri vent
up to 40-meter-high fountains of molten rock burst into the air
After 15 minutes of utmost excitement, we are brought back to earth, literally and figuratively. Overwhelmed by emotion, both of us feel exhausted and dizzy. We are quite disoriented too, and thus agree the best way to spend the evening is to further lose reality and go visit the nearby Hverir geothermal area.
the Hverir geothermal area at sunset
We walk around in a daze and snap some random shots till it gets dark.
the auroral arc