Erupting volcanoes are a spectacular experience that very few people actually witness in person. The dangerous environments and amazing natural phenomenon is most preferably viewed from great distances. However, photographer Olivier Grunewald finds the up-close exploration of volcanoes to be an exciting adventure.
In particular, he ventured out to document Kawah Ijen, a volcano near East Java, Indonesia, that constantly leaks sulfurous gases. The gases sneak through the cracks of the volcano at temperatures of more than 1,000F and, upon mixing with air, ignite and send flames bursting more than 16 feet into the sky.
Some of the burning gas condenses into liquid sulfur and creates a mysterious, blue glowing liquid that streams down the sides of the volcano in a spectacle of light. Grunewald created a series of stunning photographs that capture this mesmerizing process. As beautiful as the process is, it is actually quite a hazardous place to be. While photographing, Grunewald wears a gas mask to avoid the toxic fumes, stating that “It is impossible to stay a long time close to a dense acid gas without a mask.”
Sadly, many local workers face the extreme conditions on a daily basis without the proper protection, including gas masks. They mine the gases for sulfur, earning just $13 a day, and often working at night to avoid the intense heat of the sun.