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Hans Strand Captures Volcanic Eruption in Iceland

12/07/2010 H4D proves a versatile, rugged outdoor camera.

Hans Strand 001
© Hans Strand

Hans Strand 002
© Hans Strand

Swedish landscape and aerial photographer Hans Strand recently captured spectacular images of the active Icelandic volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, which brought European air traffic to a standstill for weeks.

Armed with his new H4D-40, Strand was one of the few photographers who managed to record the historic volcanic activity.

"It took seven attempts to fly to Iceland because of the vast ash cloud, but persistence paid off," says Strand. "Flying in a Cessna 172, I shot hand-held with my new H4D-40 within 600 meters of the volcano. I knew I could rely on the camera, but considering the extreme shooting conditions aboard the Cessna and the unique nature of the pictures, I was very impressed with the results. The H4D captured extraordinary shots of individual particles of ash within the dark cloud, as well as the rain of dust - as well as chunks of rock being ejected from the crater with tremendous force."

Strand calls the noise of the volcano "incredible" and adds, "there were continuous explosions and huge bursts of lava shooting into the sky. I brought my H4D-40 for this shoot because I wanted to make extreme enlargements. With the camera's outstanding image quality and high resolution, I knew even the most minute details would be razor-sharp with excellent definition."

Shooting in the air and within the confines of the Cessna, Strand found the H4D as convenient as a 35mm DSLR but with several impressive enhancements: “I set the sensitivity to ISO 200 and the shutter speed to 1/800, and that was it - I was just pointing and shooting. I not only used the H4D for hand-held shots in the air. I also worked without a tripod on the ground, making the ash cloud a dramatic background to the tranquil Icelandic landscape, including shots of ponies near the ash cloud." With TrueFocus he was able to capture perfectly focused close-up shots of the ponies.

Although the camera became covered with dirt when Strand shot the interior of the ash cloud from the ground, he had no trouble keeping his gear operational. “I cleaned it carefully every time I left the car,” he recalls.

Back on land, Strand processed the images in Phocus 2.5, Hasselblad's processing software. "The shots needed virtually no further editing after the initial processing. While the colors in the images are extremely vivid, I did not doctor them after the fact. I make it a point to only correct the color balance,” he explains. “The intense blue of the ash cloud background is completely authentic. You really have to see the colors of Iceland to believe them.”

To watch and download the behind-the-scenes video of Strand capturing the volcanic eruption in Iceland with his H4D, click here or watch the video here.

Please also click here to read the article about Hans Strand in Victor Online 7.2010 - page 28. 

Click here to visit Hans Strand's website.

Text by Alice B. Miller