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Ulla Lohmann: Shooting Inside an Active Volcano


There are not a lot of things that we can consider more daring than going on to shoot inside an active volcano, but German photographer Ulla Lohmann didn’t visit just one, she actually spent a large part of the last decade exploring no less than 10 different active volcanoes around the world.

In a recent Wired interview, Ulla admitted that she loves volcanoes so much that her husband proposed to her atop one, and then the couple honeymooned on another. Admittedly Ulla’s favorite part is called abseiling – rappelling by rope hundreds of feet into the lava-filled core of the Volcano.

In a recent interview (above) with Richard Sibley from PGN in the U.K. Ulla said that she loved the thrill of being the first person to be inside a Volcano and that she had a dream since a young age where she wanted to see an active Lava lake.

Since then she photographed and published images for National Geographic, GEO, GEO Saison, BBC, Stern View, VSD, Science, New York Times and many others which took her on shooting expeditions all over the world, not just with active volcanos but with indigenous people, wild animals in the jungle and some very unique landscapes and cultures.

Going into an active volcano professionally can be even more complicated and dangerous than you might think.  Ulla didn’t just go in for a few minutes or even hours and came back. She actually slept for 3 full nights with her group of explorers on a wide ledge of the volcano with sleeping bags and gas masks trying not to fall in. All this before she started a 38-hour down-and-back decent into the volcano with a special aluminized heat suits and thick gloves (see you complain about shooting conditions the next time you have a bit of rain or a hot day).

The lava lake inside is scorching hot reaching temperatures around 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit (1200 degrees Celsius). Keeping your gear intact in these type of condition is very difficult but apparently her Canon EOS 5D IV was up to the task. She did need to seal of the lens in a way that will prevent the very fine volcanic ash from getting inside the rings though but she still has the camera and lens and they keep working so that is certainly a testament to how robust Canon’s gear can be.

As always, you can watch more videos of interesting photographers on our photographer section here on LensVid.

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