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World News

Photographer captures ‘Holy Grail’ of the Northern Lights over an erupting volcano

today22/04/2021

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A British photographer has achieved his “Holy Grail” of capturing the Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, over an erupting volcano in Iceland.

Max Milligan, 56, braved boiling lava, noxious gases and temperatures of up to 1200C (2192F) but the travel book photographer’s results are as spectacular as the story that goes with them.

Mr Milligan had to attach himself to a search and rescue team and wait until everyone else had been cleared out of the area on the night in question and he was the only photographer left.

Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram
Image: The photographer braved super high temperatures and poisonous gases to capture these images. Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram
Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram
Image: The terrain was like ‘Mordor’. Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram
Max Milligan. Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram
Image: Mr Milligan attached himself to a search and rescue team to get the snaps. Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram

Having been allowed back up to the mountain by the team, he managed to catch the picture he really wanted at 2.58am, just a couple of minutes before it became too light and the chance was gone.

Mr Milligan said: “It was my holy grail and it was so dark, I didn’t know I’d got it until about 24 hours later when I uploaded it to a laptop.”

He waited, he said, “six years for an eruption and six weeks [after arriving in Iceland] for the Northern Lights”, which are not always as picture-perfect as travel guides make you think and are sometimes simply covered by cloud.

The terrain in the Geldingaladur Valley, close to the country’s capital, Reykjavik, was like “Mordor”, he said.

More from Iceland

“I have photographed five volcanoes in my life and never seen anything like this before. It is Mordor.

“The poison gases hang in pockets so you carry a gas mask but generally stay upwind from the lava.

Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram
Image: Lava mostly moves slowly, ‘so you have time’ to get away. Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram
Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram
Image: ‘You can get to within around two metres of the lava’. Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram

“Every single visit to the eruption, it has changed. New fissures appear, different lava flows, new land being created constantly.

“You can approach the lava flows, get up close and hear the lava cool off and scrunch like the sound of a thousand windows breaking, but at 1200 degrees, two minutes is all your cheeks can bear.

Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram
Image: The team wore gas masks because of the noxious gases. Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram
Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram
Image: People had been cleared from the area before the photo shoot. Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram

“You can get to within around two metres of the lava, but you must be careful if you start to see it bubbling up, it means a new stream is about to appear and it’s time to move.

“One could open up under your feet. You’re thinking ‘where am I going to run to?'”

So was he ever hurried?

Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram
Image: The temperature was so hot people could only last two minutes close to lava. Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram
Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram
Image: The snapper waited six years for the eruption. Pic: maxmilliganphoto/Instagram

“No, lava mostly moves slowly, so you have time.”

The gases are equally dangerous, he added.

“They can cause weariness in the joints, burning lungs and a condition known as ‘volcano throat’ can affect you later.”

 Sky News

© Sky News 2021

Written by: Rother Radio News


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