Inside the Volcano – Part 2/2

Continued from Part 1.

Following the photographs are three short videos, the last of which reveals the unbelievable colours coating the inner wall of the crater.

Surrounding scape seen from top of peak

Surrounding scape from top of the peak
5D Mark III, TS-E 24L II


The elevator platform looked well-engineered and deploys the safety braking mechanism found in all cable elevators. (Thank you, Elisha Otis.) Sound safety procedures were followed including securing us to the platform via the harness.

Transport: moving platform

Transport: elevator platform
5D Mark III, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP


The first batch of four was gently lowered into the crater, the descent to the floor 120 metres below taking around 10 minutes. On the way down it got very dark very quickly, and this combined with platform shake was not conducive to still photography.

Crater Wall

Crater wall during descent (ISO 3200)
5D Mark III, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP


On the floor of the magma chamber I quickly put my tripod to work. These colours are the handiwork of Nature, not the Photoshop Saturation slider.

Chamber wall

Chamber wall
5D Mark III, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

Phantoms in the chamber

5D Mark III, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP


I played with the last image, obliterating its local contrast (Clarity slider set to minimum in Lightroom).

Painter's canvas

Painter’s canvas (same as previous image with very low local contrast)
5D Mark III, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP

Crater funnel seen from the chamber

Crater funnel seen from the floor
5D Mark III, TS-E 17L

Wide angle view of the wall of the chamber

Wide angle view of the chamber walls
5D Mark III, TS-E 17L

Börkur Hrólfsson

Börkur Hrólfsson, guide extraordinaire
5D Mark III, TS-E 17L


We spent around 45 minutes on the floor of the chamber. Back at the base station we were offered coffee and a light meal with a choice of traditional Icelandic lamb soup (Kjötsúpa) and a hot vegetarian item that was inscrutable but delicious nevertheless.

Delicious hot vegetarian something

Hot and delicious vegetarian something
5D Mark III, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP


Before our trek back I chanced upon Árni Stefánsson, the man behind the Inside the Volcano enterprise. “This is a world heritage site,” he intoned. I wanted to tell him that the whole of Iceland (minus the unsightly jumble that is Reykjavík) is a world heritage site.

Árni Stefánsson, the prime mover behind the project

“This is a world heritage site” – Árni Stefánsson, the prime mover behind the project
5D Mark III, Zeiss ZE 50 f/2 MP


The videos were shot with Canon 5D Mark III and the Zeiss ZE 50mm f/2 Makro Planar lens. The first and the third cuts were taken handheld on the moving elevator platform, and it was a struggle having to constantly adjust focus, deal with shake, and fight fogged glasses.

Descent into the Crater


Börkur Hrólfsson dispenses pearls of wisdom on balancing techniques on uneven ground.

Entry into the Chamber


Colours on the crater walls.

Journey Up and Out of the Crater

  • Premanand - May 29, 2014 - 9:24 am

    Splendid! Now I want to visit Iceland and do “Inside the volcano” once before I die. Also all the while I was reading the post I was imagining how much fun will it be with Samarth also accompanying me, asking million questions all the while. But that will have to wait for nine years at least, official age for the tour is 12+. 🙁ReplyCancel

  • Sanjeev - August 1, 2012 - 1:00 pm

    Rajan, your brilliant compilation of photos and information is the next best thing to being there.

    You capture the essence of the place.

    Thanks for the efforts and SHARING !

    I am sure Iceland Tourism Dept would consider reimbursing your expenses 🙂ReplyCancel

  • Jon - July 30, 2012 - 2:26 pm

    Rajan, that was an amazing job of handheld shooting! Had it been me viewers would have succumbed to motion sickness.ReplyCancel

  • Börkur Hrólfsson - July 24, 2012 - 4:48 am

    What a great show ! The only thing is, that now people know my age ! 🙂ReplyCancel

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