• February 29, 2016

The Incredibly Real Beauty of Nature’s Explosive Power

Alexa Keefe

Sergio Tapiro has been photographing the Colima volcano outside his home town of Colima, Mexico, for the past 14 years. “One of the lessons I have learned from this volcano is if you want to take a good picture you have to know your subject—you have to study, to read, to see, and learn to watch what the volcano is doing,” he says. “If you don’t study your subject your chances of having the greatest photo of your life are less. If you know perfectly what you are doing, the chances are huge.”

Pictures of explosion and lightning of the Colima Volcano
A series of images shows the sequence of events culminating in Tapiro’s award-winning photo.

Tapiro’s collection of photos, taken over the years, shows the volcano in various states—emitting billowing plumes of smoke during the day, standing sentinel at night under swirls of stars. But the greatest photo of his life (so far) is the dramatic shot of ash, lava, and lightning above, which recently won a World Press Photo award.

Colima, also known as the Volcano of Fire, is one of the most active in Latin America, Tapiro says. He monitors the activity via a webcam, studies seismographs, and even owns a restaurant close by. He had been observing an uptick in activity at several points over the last year, when explosions and plumes of erupting ash charged the atmosphere, sparking lightning. Tapiro was on the lookout to capture this extraordinary activity.

When explosions began on the clear, starry evening of December 13, 2015, Tapiro was ready with his tripod-mounted DSLR and remotely triggered shutter set for eight-second exposures. One, two, three, four shots. And then, with the fifth, “I saw this marvelous lightning, the biggest lightning I have seen with this volcano.” The 1,600- to 1,900-foot strike was like a giant strobe, he says, illuminating the side of the mountain and clouds of ash.

“Volcanos have something that inspire and remind you about the power of creation and how the Earth makes marvelous things,” Tapiro says.

There are 8 Comments. Add Yours.

  1. Siddharthkumar
    April 10, 2016

    Fantastic Photo. Showing raw power of nature in all its majesty.

  2. ขายครีม
    March 20, 2016

    Amazing Photo. Thank you so much.

  3. sidney
    March 13, 2016

    time+patience= opportunity. Thanks Tapiro

  4. Serena
    March 13, 2016

    Extraordinary! It’ s incredible how nature can be so marvelous and how such an artist can be able to make it tangible and immortalize these magic and unique moments. Fantastic!

    March 13, 2016

    Quite interesting.

  6. Silas S
    March 2, 2016

    Awe struck looking at this striking picture made possible with an 8-second exposure at a comparitively high ISO! As significant as celestial phenomena. Congrats Tapiro!

  7. Elizabeth
    March 1, 2016

    a STUNNING photographic work of Art!!

  8. kelly booty
    February 29, 2016

    amazing photo! i just love how there is a good side and a bad side in the volcano.

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