Albert Dros is an award-winning professional landscape photographer whose photos have been published in National Geographic, Adobe, Time Magazine, Huﬃngton Post, and other prominent publications. He’s a Sony Global and Xpozer Ambassador and uses his background in multimedia technology to help him imagine, capture and plan shots that seem close to impossible. Albert has a particular love for extreme events of nature, as he tells us of his trip to photograph the active volcano Fuego in Guatemala.
I wanted more than just a volcano
As a landscape photographer, I am interested in extreme natural events. The eruption of a volcano had always been on my list to photograph. When I heard about the active Fuego volcano in Guatemala I immediately wanted to try and photograph it in a unique way.
I didn’t want to capture only the eruption of the volcano as many locals had already done this. I wanted something more. What if I could photograph it at night with a backdrop of the Milky Way galaxy? With the vision in my head, I started to plan the shot. I checked when the Milky Way would align with Fuego from a speciﬁc nearby vantage point. I monitored Fuego’s activity for weeks and decided what time and date would give me the best chance for a successful shot. I also had to think of other things.
Planning for the dream shot
Guatemalans are incredibly open and friendly, but incidents of theft and armed robbery are common, especially for foreigners. So I needed to be careful and have a plan. I didn’t want to risk having my camera gear stolen. When it got dark I could really see the erupting lava spewing out of the volcano. It was an amazing sight. I took a lot of shots and then tried to sleep for an hour or two before waking up very early in the morning. I knew that the best alignment of the Milky Way with the volcano would be around 3 AM. Around 3:30 a.m. the very early blue hour started, casting a bit of light in the sky along with the Milky Way. This was the moment that I could capture the shot that I had envisioned: an eruption of the volcano with a backdrop of the Milky Way. Until then the shot hadn’t been possible because of the huge contrast between the glowing lava and the dark sky. Also, the Milky Way wasn’t lined up behind Fuego until that moment.
The Milky Way and the volcano
Luckily, the volcano erupted, and I could take the shot. It all came together at that moment. When I looked at my screen and saw the photo, it was exactly how I imagined it to be. It had taken so much effort, time and planning to get it, and there it was on my screen. The satisfaction was indescribable. Using my phone, I took some snapshots of the photo on my camera screen and sent them to friends back home. I then took out my SD Card and hid it so that it couldn’t be stolen during the hike down the mountain. After that, I put down my camera and just enjoyed the moment.
A beautiful sunrise followed with Fuego saying a final goodbye by spewing the whole valley in front of me full of lava and smoke. It was the most amazing thing in nature I had ever seen. Beautiful Guatemala The story along with the photos became very popular after I published them when I was back home. Guatemala is often in the international news in a negative way, with stories of gang-led kidnappings and robberies being highlighted and harming the country’s reputation. However, Guatemalans are very friendly in general. It was wonderful to get emails from locals thanking me for my article and pictures. They were so happy for Guatemala to be in the news in a ‘beautiful’ way instead of for something negative. Interestingly, the panorama image from the valley became a very popular image, while the close-up shot was technically much harder to capture.
Printing the impossible photo
Printing brings photos to life When I ﬁnally see my images on my screen after coming home from a trip I spend a good deal of time making them look ‘perfect’. When they are ready I love printing them as it gives them a new dimension. It’s just diﬀerent from digital photos. Touching your prints gives life to your work. Another great thing about printing is that I often see new things that can be improved, things that I didn’t see on the computer. Printing really helps me improve my photography.
“It was an impossible shot and yet I had it.” -Albert Dros
Get a copy of “Amazing Photography”
Every other week a new photo and the story behind it will be published here on Photofocus. Clemens and Ivan have made copies of “Amazing Photography” available for the cost of shipping — $8.99 alone. The book retails for $29.99 regularly. Here are some highlights …
- More than 100 breathtaking photos by professional and hobby photographers
- 13 personal stories from pro’s and hobbyists such as Albert Dros (pro-photographer), Laura Vink (pro-photographer), Andre Kuipers (astronaut and photographer), Ori Guttin (co-founder Viewbug) and Evgeny Tchebotarev (co-founder 500px)
- 4 practical photo guides to help you enjoy your photos to the max
- 7 DIY quick fixes for unexpected photography situations
- World’s top 15 under-the-radar spots for stunning photos
- Would you rather …? A hypothetical photography game for friends
- The science behind how your photos can affect your happiness and well-being.