WPY 2011

Photograph Details

Highly commended 2011


Erlend Haarberg, Norway

Land of fire and ice

Erlend arrived in Iceland on 12 April 2010, two days before the Eyjafjallajökull volcano began to erupt from under the ice cap. Though the explosion was relatively small, it fractured the ice cap, producing a huge ash plume. On the first clear evening after the eruption began, Erlend climbed a nearby mountain and began to photograph the plume - a plume that was to cause massive disruption to international air travel. Pausing for a moment, he turned around to look at the mountain ridge behind him. The shaded snow-covered slopes of Thórsmörk were tinged blue by the low-lying clouds, but the lower slopes and the clouds above were lit by the setting sun. 'For the 10 minutes that the light lasted, I completely forgot about the volcano,' says Erlend. 'Everything was magical that evening - the powerful volcano, the light and the atmosphere - a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I felt very small beside the overwhelming power of nature.'

Technical specification

Nikon D700 + 500mm f4 lens; 1/160 sec at f7.1; ISO 200; Gitzo tripod.

Pórsmörk, Iceland: latitude 63.6914, longitude -19.5422 Pórsmörk, Iceland: latitude 63.6914, longitude -19.5422

Pórsmörk, Iceland

Intellectual property rights to all WPY images are retained by the photographers. Reproduction without prior written consent constitutes an actionable infringement. For usage enquiries please contact us.

Sign up to receive emails from the Natural History Museum about events and exhibitions, including Wildlife Photographer of the Year.

Erlend Haarberg, Norway

Erlend has been working as a freelance nature photographer since the early 1990s, specialising in photographing wildlife in the Nordic countries. He met his wife Orsolya in 2004 and they have since worked on both joint and personal projects. They have authored four books and been published in GEO, BBC Wildlife and National Geographic magazines.

  • A wave of waders
  • Snow spat