Plumes of gas escaping from vents as lava meets air
"From the helicopter, we saw lava splashing and frothing 50 feet [15 meters] below the surface in these 75- to 100-foot-wide [23- to 30-meter-wide] pools.
"Soon after taking this picture, we heard a big crash of thunder, immediately followed by lightning. In about 40 seconds, we were hit by torrential rain. We couldn't even see 20 feet [6 meters] in front of us, so there was no way the helicopter could find us. And the 7-mile [11-kilometer] hike out was too dangerous in the low visibility.
"Eventually the visibility increased to 100 feet [30 meters]which was just enough for the pilot to sniff his way through the clouds. The helicopter came crawling alongyou could've walked faster. His skids were no more than ten feet [three meters] from the ground as he approached."
Photographer James Balog
Camera: Nikon D100
Shutter speed: 1/60
Time of day: 6:30 a.m.
"On the ground there were a limited number of places where I could get a nice graphic arrangement of the steam clouds in relationship to the vents. I worked with the way the wind was blowing the clouds to position myself in such a way that I could capture the action going on in the landscape."