WPY 2014

Photograph Details

Finalist 2014

Natural Design

Bryan Lowry, USA

A marvel of lava

Getting to the lava flows of the Kīlauea volcano in Hawaii was a challenge. It meant a long trip, starting out at night and carrying heavy kit. But it was routine for Bryan, a devotee of the islands’ volcanoes who has been hiking over Hawaiian lava for the past 22 years. This time it was raining and the thin pahoehoe lava, spreading in shiny sheets, was ‘exceptionally clear and full of texture. I was mesmerised by this small lobe,’ recalls Bryan. Not having a macro lens with him, he needed to get up close. The vast flow was moving slowly, and at more than 1,000˚C it was radiating extreme heat. Bryan stood on the inflating lava near the edge of the flow, its surface cooled by rain. He bent his camera down using the tripod’s closest leg and snapped the image by remote control. ‘For a split second, the lens was a foot’s length from the flow,’ says Bryan. Though the camera was too hot to touch for several minutes after, he captured the abstract image he had hoped for.

Technical specification

Nikon D800 + 50mm f1.8 lens; 1/60 sec at f10; ISO 400; Dolica tripod; cable shutter release.


Kilauea, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii: latitude 19.32783, longitude -155.03662 Kilauea, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii: latitude 19.32783, longitude -155.03662

Kilauea, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Big Island, Hawaii

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Bryan Lowry

Bryan Lowry, USA

A self-taught professional photographer based in Hawaii, Bryan’s expertise is in the active lava flows of Kilauea volcano. He has been hiking and photographing Hawaii’s Big Island and the volcano since 1991. He relishes remote destinations, regularly undertaking round-trip adventures of 32 kilometres or more in extreme environments.