WPY 2014

Photograph Details

Finalist 2014

Natural Design

Andrew Lee, USA

Edge of creation

When Andrew heard that the lava flow from the Kīlauea volcano on Hawaii’s Big Island had entered the ocean for the first time in several years, he flew there straight away. He wanted to witness ‘the chaotic process of creation’ for himself. On a dark, cold December night he made the three-hour hike through rain and high winds from the city of Hilo. ‘The black lava rocks were slippery, sharp and very hot – every step had to be carefully placed,’ he recalls. ‘The lava channels glowed in the dark, like an army of red serpents marching to the sea, but nothing prepared me for the extraordinary scene.’ The wind had whipped up huge waves that were crashing into the jagged cliffs, creating an immense salty spray. The air was filled with sulphuric fumes. Intense white clouds of steam hissed up from the 1,000˚C lava streams, which were flowing into the cold Pacific Ocean. Andrew set up his shot about 20 metres from the lava, the soles of his shoes and the rubber spikes on his tripod melting from the intense heat. Using a long exposure to capture the motion of the incoming waves, he brought all the elements together to produce an image of a raw, evolving landscape.

Technical specification

Nikon D600 + 70–300mm f4.5–5.6 lens at 180mm; 1/3 sec at f32; ISO 100; Gitzo tripod + Markins ballhead


Kalapana, Hilo, Hawaii, USA: latitude 19.3548, longitude -154.98 Kalapana, Hilo, Hawaii, USA: latitude 19.3548, longitude -154.98

Kalapana, Hilo, Hawaii, USA

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Andrew Lee

Andrew Lee, USA

In 2009, Andrew picked up photography as a hobby and soon discovered that seeking out and capturing the alluring and fleeting moments of nature made him feel so much more alive and at peace. Based in California, USA, he holds a doctorate in business administration, but he is currently taking time off work to pursue his interest in photography.