Source: Barcroft Media
Magma and northern lights captured in one shot just a few yards from an erupting volcano could be one of nature’s most spectacular sights.
British photographer James Appleton has spent the past seven years capturing the volatile yet stunning landscapes of Iceland – and was rewarded with this incredibly rare shot.
Working alongside vulcanologists and willing to get within a few hundred feet of an erupting volcano, James, 25, was willing to put himself in the firing line to get the perfect shot.
“I became aware of the Fimmvörðuháls volcano through a friend of mine who is an Icelandic vulcanologist,” said James.
“She informed me of the eruption, and I knew immediately I had to try and get out to see it.
“On the plane flying over to Iceland I had in my mind's eye the perfect image I wanted to see, which was exactly this combination of an erupting volcano and the Aurora Borealis.
“I never dared to hope it might actually happen, but seeing it for real put all the hairs on the back of my neck up.
“When I saw the photographs come through the camera I was jumping around with excitement.”
To take his extraordinary pictures James braved not only the mighty flames of the Fimmvörðuháls volcano, but also the frozen bite of the harsh Icelandic winter.
“The closest I got was probably only a few hundred metres away,” said James.
“I was trying to be as responsible as possible, but the temptation to get in for closer images was too much.
“It was simply a case of trying to stay on ridges and high ground to avoid possible gas pockets or caves under the snow formed by the heat of the lava.
“The dangerous moments came when a two day storm blew in and I was forced to take shelter from incredibly powerful winds and blizzards.
“The few times I tried venturing outside I would be blown flat over and along some of the sheer ice, which was pretty disconcerting.
“That and the occasional earthquake meant for not much sleep.
“Because of the whiteout conditions I could barely see ten feet in front of my eyes through the driving snow.”
James’ time in Iceland has left a deep impression on him and he looked forward to returning there one day.
“I love the country because of the raw, wild nature of the landscape there,” said James.
“It's such a compelling place and it has a real sense of growing before your eyes - due to all the geothermal activity.
“Everything is untamed and very different to the rolling green hills of England.
“The weather systems are very fast moving and dramatic. I look for powerful skies and the moments when the world is full of colour and movement.
“Iceland is fantastic as producing moments such as these.”