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Photos of the Sulfur Miners at the Ijen Volcano in Indonesia

Photos of the Sulfur Miners at the Ijen Volcano in Indonesia

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Every day hundreds of men climb the 9,000 feet to the summit of Mount Ijen located in Java, Indonesia and then trek 3,000 feet down into the crater to break slabs of sulfur. Each load of sulfur is around 100-135 pounds, which is the approximate total body weight of the miners.

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Many of these men do not wear gas masks and carry their loads of sulfur up a steep volcano wearing sandals versus shoes. Through a translator, many of the workers told me that they have health and respiratory issues as well as back deformities while only earning the equivalent of $5 to $10 U.S. dollars a day.

I met an old man in his 70s that earned $5 for a day’s salary of back-breaking work. I encountered a young man in his 20s who had a bandage wrapped around his head due to a fallen rock that fractured his skull. These are just a few of the stories that inhabit Mount Ijen and the resiliency of spirit that I encountered.

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I spent close to two weeks photographing the sulfur miners after being inspired by photographers like James Nachtwey and Sebastião Salgado who have also been to the same hallowed grounds documenting the human condition.

As a mental health therapist, I realize that growth happens when we put ourselves into uncomfortable situations and run towards the things that we fear the most. This is the reason why I wanted to travel to this far away place and spend the time to truly see this part of the world that I have only experienced through the lens of other photographers that I have admired.

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A typical day would begin leaving in the middle of the night to get to the mountain a little before sunrise. At that point, I would stay for the majority of the day photographing the people long after the tourists have left.

Even though I wore a gas mask, the sulfur burned through my lungs and I was coughing the majority of the time. I can not imagine someone spending year after year inhaling that toxic gas and the damage it does to one’s health after years of abuse.

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What new can be said that hasn’t already been said before about the people of Mount Ijen? It has been covered a lot by photographers better than I. I live in a country that is extremely divided among multiple facets: America. However, if there is one truth that I have learned throughout my travels is that despite our religious, economic, and racial differences, we are more alike than we are different.

This is evident when I was told that the worse fear that these men go through is that their children would end up doing the same laborious work as them. All parents want their children to live better lives than them, especially coming from an immigrant background. We all want some semblance of dignity to hold onto.

It’s a very simple idea, but I hope my images can somehow express that love transcends the differences in our lives and can actually bring us closer together than divide. I believe in the power of images. As I get a little bit older it may be too naive to think photography can catalyze “change” but perhaps it can encourage a little bit of empathy.


About the author: Wesley Du is a visual journalist documenting the human condition. The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author. You can find more of Du’s work on his website, Facebook, and Instagram.

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Drone Crashes Into Icelandic Volcano Capturing Its Own Incredible Demise

Drone Crashes Into Icelandic Volcano Capturing Its Own Incredible Demise

There are few videos I have clicked on faster than a drone filming itself crashing into a volcano in Iceland. This video shows a DJI first-person view drone as it records the rivers of lava flowing out of Fagradalsfjall before plummeting into a fiery death, all in glorious 4K.

If there’s one thing I really appreciate about some photographers and videographers, it’s that they’re not precious with their gear. To get the truly incredible, singular shots, sometimes you have to put yourself and your equipment on the line and that is exactly what happened here.

Fagradalsfjall is a volcano located just 25 miles from Reykjavik, Iceland. In December 2019, a series of earthquakes hit the area which concerned locals and experts, indicating that an eruption may be on the horizon. In March 2021, the earthquakes were coming thick and fast, with over 40,000 tremors recorded by seismographs. At 8:45pm on 19th March 2021, the eruption started, which is the first to happen in 800 years. Fagradalsfjall is said to have been dormant for closer to 6,000 years. This terrifying but fascinating event attracted locals, tourists, and photographers to see the giant fissures of lava.

However, some took the opportunity differently to others. Joey Helms, a photographer and videographer, took his DJI FPV drone and flew over the winding flows of golden death, but then a little too close to one of the fissures. This saw a quick death for the drone, but the footage lives on and gives us, quite possibly, the first view of its kind.

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Tips and Tricks for Shooting the Icelandic Volcano at Night

Tips and Tricks for Shooting the Icelandic Volcano at Night

As the Icelandic volcano continues to erupt in Gelingadalur, Iceland, these two photographers share their very best tips and tricks for photographing a volcanic eruption, and luckily the same techniques can be applied to landscape photography anywhere in the world with an active, erupting volcano.

Gudmann and Gyda once again head to the recently erupting volcano in Gelingadalur in Iceland where they share their best techniques for capturing the magnificent magma on display at night. During night shooting there, it’s incredibly difficult to capture a well-balanced, decent exposure of the volcano due to the fact that the magma and lava is so bright compared to the darkened surrounding landscape.

In this video the two intrepid photographers show us exactly what kit they pack into their camera bags, explaining their reasoning behind why they use neutral density filters to capture the already dark scenery, and show us some survival gear that needed whilst out shooting in the extreme environment that is Iceland during an eruption. Armed with a myriad of Nikon kit the two used Nikon Z 6s and Nikon D850s to capture their film and photographs, and also took along a Zoom H4N audio recording device with a separate microphone to capture some truly spectacular audio to accompany the images. They get very specific with camera settings and thoroughly explain their choices for specific pieces of camera equipment, it’s a helpful insight into landscape and nature photography shoots which should help any photographer who wants to photograph a volcano.

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Watch This Breathtaking Drone Video of a Volcano Eruption

Watch This Breathtaking Drone Video of a Volcano Eruption


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Aerial filmmaker Stefan Forster has created an extraordinary piece of work (above) that captures the breathtaking beauty of a volcanic eruption.

Shot using several DJI quadcopters, the video captures an eruption that started in Geldingadalir on Iceland’s Reykjanes Peninsula in March 2021. Forster’s mind-blowing footage has been enhanced by a masterful editing job that takes the production to another level.

“I spent several days and nights at the volcano,” Forster wrote in comments accompanying the video. “It was such an incredible adventure. Every day the volcano looked completely different.”

The Swiss-based artist used three Mavic 2 Pro drones to capture footage that he later edited to create his extraordinary video. He said it was “pure luck” that one of his quadcopters made it through the sizzling hot lava spray. However, it didn’t emerge entirely unscathed as it returned to base “completely melted” and now has “so many malfunctions and errors that it’s funny to fly.” But, amazingly, it’s still able to capture photos and videos.

Up until recently, a video like this just would not have been possible, after all, no helicopter pilot would ever be allowed to fly this close to a volcano in full flow, not that any would be crazy enough to want to risk it, of course. But with consumer drones now equipped with high-quality 4K cameras, the possibilities are endless for talented filmmakers with polished flying skills.

Forster, 32, has been making a living out of nature photography and filmmaking since 2008, spending seven months a year traveling around the world (in ordinary times, at least), capturing content and conducting tours for others keen to learn his tricks of the trade.

Of course, if you’re a drone enthusiast and you’re now considering hightailing it to your nearest erupting volcano (yeah, like there’s a lot of them around just now), be sure to do your research beforehand. The current volcanic activity in Iceland features little highly explosive activity, but many such events are of course extremely hazardous and can cause a huge amount of destruction. And take note — even relatively calm eruptions can release toxic gases that pose a threat to human life. Iceland’s government, for example, said of the current eruption that people are “advised to stay away from valleys and other places near the fissure where toxic gases can accumulate.”

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