Anything to Get the Shot: Volcanic Visuals

Source: Library of Congress
By Kristi Finefield

Some photographers’ willingness to do anything to get the shot came to mind when I saw this 1908 photo. Clearly, the man holding this large camera (imagine running with that in hand!) was determined to capture what is likely a billowing cloud of volcanic ash. Taken long before the benefit of zoom lenses, both the man in the photo and the person who is capturing this scene had to get closer than was likely comfortable. We can only hope he’s further away than he appears to be at first glance!

Man holding large camera photographing a cataclysmic event, 1908


While the collections include many other photographs of volcanoes erupting and the aftermath, it’s not nearly as common to get a window on what it takes to capture such an image.  This 1910 photograph shows a cinematographer filming Mount Etna erupting from a rather steep hillside, while a photographer stands behind him. perhaps waiting his turn.

Photographers on hillside photographing Mt. Etna eruption. Photo by Bain News Service, 1910

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