Photographer captures aurora over Iceland’s erupting volcano

When Wallachadalur volcano erupted in Iceland last month, photographer Christopher Mathews set out to capture unforgettable photos. After several disappointments, he was treated to the dazzling sight of the Northern Lights dancing over the eruption.

Mathews was a former lawyer with the US Air Force. Today he lives in Kópavogur, Iceland, and studies geothermal energy and politics at Reykjavík University.

After the exuberant eruption in Geldingadalur began at 9:30 p.m. on March 19, 2021, Mathews began searching for locations.

“Unfortunately, the cloud cover spoiled the weekend daurors here,” says Mathews. “It was a huge disappointment.”

But on the night of March 24th, his persistence paid off.

“[A]When the sky darkens, an unexpected blizzard appears, wiping out the sky and even the eruption itself, ”says the photographer. “Another heartbreaker – until the sky cleared just before midnight. When they did that, the aurora immediately lit up over the volcano.

“It was a magical sight that I took particularly to heart because it happened to be my birthday!”

Mathews’ photo was taken with his Canon 6D DSLR and Sigma 24mm f / 1.4 Art lens at ISO 1000 with an exposure of 4 seconds and shows the green glow of the aurora over the red-orange glow of the volcano’s lava flows.

Wallachadalur means “Wallach Valleys” and this latest eruption is the first for the peninsula in approximately 800 years. Since it may be a shield volcano eruption, it can last for a few more years (so you may have plenty of time to plan a trip to Iceland to photograph it).

If you’re curious about the current state of the volcano, here’s a live stream of the eruption:

You can find more work by Mathews on Facebook and Instagram. If you are interested in purchasing a print of this photo, you can find it for sale at Fine Art America.

Credit: Photos by Christopher Mathews and used with permission

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