Pacaya Volcano

Check out my “six pack”!

Yeah, well a six pack of images that is! As opposed to a six pack of abdominal muscles…. which I do have…. they’re just well concealed by a middle aged waistline these days!   Anyway, I’m travelling again shortly and so won’t be posting for about 3 weeks.   I won’t say where I’m going other than it should provide for some interesting pictures!  In the meanwhile here's a few shots from my Latin America files to go on with. :-) KD

The Jetty, Lake Atitilan, Guatemala

Sunset, Lake Peten Itza, Guatemala

Tulum, Mexico

Flores, Lake Peten Itza, Guatemala

Fumeroles, Pacaya, Guatemala

Palenque, Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Fumeroles, Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala

  Another shot from my Latin American trip.   Several of these fumeroles exist at the top of the volcano, spitting out smoke, steam and the sulphur which can be seen as a yellowish crust in the picture.    Some careful contrast control was required in Photoshop (PS) with this image in order to retain some detail in the very dark volcanic rocks.

Fumerole, Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala

Original image captured on colour negative film.

Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala.

I’m still working my way through my Latin America shots.  This is one taken from near the top of Pacaya,  one of the most active volcanoes in the world, in Guatemala and shows the surrounding countryside.  The shot was taken late in the day with active lava flows nearby.   At the time of taking this picture,  I was the only person left at the top of the volcano as my travelling companions had already started their decent.   Being a photographer,  it's not unusual for me to be the straggler firstly because I'm frequently carrying more gear than anyone else and hence move slower and,  secondly because there's always the desire to slow down and take some time to compose an image.

View from atop Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala

Original image captured on colour negative film.

All alone on a volcano.

Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala

Pacaya which is described as an active "complex volcano" is easily accessible from Antigua in Guatemala.    Walking tours to the summit are conducted dependant on conditions at the time with the trail being closed if volcanic activity makes it hazardous.   It's believed the volcano first erupted about 23,000 years ago and has erupted at least 23 times since the Spanish invasion of Guatemala.   Rising to an elevation of 2,552 metres (8,373 ft) the volcano was dormant for a century before erupting violently in 1965,  it has been erupting continuously since then making it one of the most active volcanoes in the world.

During my visit I was,  of course,  carrying my photo gear and as a result was a little slower than others making the trek that day.    Arriving at the top gave some fine views over the surrounding countryside and some interesting views of the fumeroles which were smoking away.

Smoking fumerole, Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala

Having made the walk up,  with the loose stones scrunching under my feet as I went,  I took in the scene which was impressive,  but there was no flowing lava to be seen.    Other walkers having got to the top earlier than me,  and having enjoyed the view,  were starting to make their way back down the side of the volcano.     This left me alone at the top,  taking some time to get some pictures.   It was at this time that I heard a crackling hissing sound nearby,  turned around and saw that about 10 metres away the ground had opened up and there was now hot red lava following out of the newly formed crevice.

Lava flow, Pacaya Volcano, Guatemala

Whilst this was an exciting occurrence,  it was also disconcerting.    I was now alone on top of an active volcano with no one else in sight and quite possibly,  no one else aware of what was happening.   Added to that was the knowledge that other flows could spontaneously occur as well and potentially block my path back down to the base.   Not a pleasant thought!    I was able to get a couple of quick photos and then decided it was time to get moving back down the trail.

Sunset over the slope of Pacaya

Descending the trail,  it was late in the day and the warm light of the sky contrasted against the black volcanic foreground.

The blackened slope of Pacaya

It was a steep trail in parts with loose stones under feet.   Although there was some fading light in the sky the trail itself was quite dark given the time of day and the shadows of the black rock.    I was wishing I'd carried a torch.

Lower slopes of Pacaya

As I approached the car park near the bottom of the trail,  I paused for one more photo of the surrounding countryside.

All these images were captured on colour negative film and the technical quality of the final image I would now regard as unacceptable if captured with a modern digital camera.   Digital long ago surpassed film in imaging quality,  given the same scene today I would happily push the ISO rating to 1600 or higher knowing that the result would be superior to what was available with film at ISO 400-800.    ~KD


**** blog entry updated,  9.11.2015****