Two Photographers Risked Their Lives To Get A Never-Before-Seen Shot Of Lava

Lava Pictures

Photo: Lava Light Galleries

Photographers CJ Kale and Nick Selway waited more than five years to capture a never-before seen-view of an active volcano. When the conditions were finally right, the two friends risked their lives to get it. What were they seeking? An image of lava hitting the water shown through a breaking wave. 

See the lava pictures > 
To do this they spent seven days camped out near the edge of volcanoes on the island of Hawaii. Then, wearing only surf shorts and fins, plunged into near-scalding water.  

The manoeuvre is extremely dangerous, but CJ and Nick, who together own Lava Light Galleries in Kailua Kona, Hawaii, did not want to pass up this rare opportunity.  

“To do this again, we would need the lava to cross another beach,” CJ tells us. “Unfortunately, the next closest beach is over seven miles from the lava’s normal path. Even worse is, if it did take a path toward the beach, there are about 30 homes in its way, so I pray that we never get the chance again.” 

To capture the unprecedented photographs, CJ and Nick hiked to Kilauea, a volcano located on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Kilauea is one of the world's most active volcanoes. It's been erupting since January 3, 1983, producing enough lava per day to repave a two-lane road for two miles.

The volcano's eruptions have added an average of 42 acres of land per year to the island of Hawaii.

Liquid lava flows from the vents down the sides of the volcano about 7 miles to the sea. When the two forces meet, it makes a beautiful display.

The brave photographers spent six days camped out near the edge of volcanoes waiting for the perfect moment.

He's planted less than 20 feet from where blistering magma, which can get as hot as 2,000 degrees Fahrenheit, instantly boils the ocean water.

It's about 110 degrees Fahrenheit where CJ is standing. His skin turns red from the temperature, which is several degrees hotter than a hot tub.

A protective case, called a surf housing, shields the camera from heat and water.

Around 5:50 a.m., just as the sun is beginning to rise, CJ captures the very first image of lava hitting the ocean through the surf.

Nick films the incredible moment from the shore as CJ is carried under the waves.

On the last day, lava covers the black-sand beach that the two photographers had been using to access the water. In the distance, Nick snaps some final pictures.

CJ and Nick also captured the unique moment on film.

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