Photographer Gets So Close to Lava That His Shoes and Tripod Melt


Some photographers enjoy chasing storms; Miles Morgan enjoys “chasing” volcanos. The Hawaiian landscape photographer has spent years risking life and limb to capture beautiful photographs of molten lava.

The 41-year-old Hawaiian landscape photographer first cut his teeth in landscape photography back in 2009. His father Hank is a successful photojournalist, so there was no shortage of cameras in the family. After some experimentation, Morgan was hooked.

Soon, his hobby began to include photographing volcanos and lava flows from up close.

For one photograph, Morgan decided to take a self-portrait showing himself standing just feet away from the crater of Kilaeua volcano in Hawaii–without any protective gear. He set his camera’s self-timer and then got as close as he could to the “unbelievably hot” lava. This is the photo that resulted:


It’s dangerous passion, Morgan says. In many places near lava flows at the edge of the ocean, the ground beneath one’s feet is extremely unstable and prone to erosion. Sometimes entire chunks fall into the ocean, posing a danger to anyone standing in the area. In addition to the risk of falling into lava or boiling-hot water, there are toxic gases that swirl around.

So far, though, Morgan has been able to avoid any serious injuries–the worst that has happened to him is having some of his gear (e.g. shoes and a tripod) melt at the bottom.

Here are some of the amazing lava photographs Morgan has captured so far:














Here’s a great video interview in which Miles talks about his photography:

You can find more of Morgan’s work on his personal website and through his 500px account.

Update: If you didn’t believe that you can have your shoes melt while shooting on a volcano, check out this photo that shows a photographer’s shoes and tripod catching on fire!

Image credits: Photographs by Miles Morgan and used with permission

  • Mantis

    I once go so close to my BBQ that my eyebrows singed. But ribs.

  • Ed Rhodes

    Beautiful pics, but title is misleading. I was hoping to see the melted tripod.

  • Jason Wright

    I doubt more than the rubber end caps on the tripod actually melted. If the metal legs Melted while he was standing near it, that’s the least of his worries.
    Not that it isn’t amazing dedication to great images, but the click-bait title remains annoying.

  • BA

    well thanks for not showing us his melted shoes or his tripod

  • JJ Black

    “Photographer Gets So Close to Lava That His Shoes and Tripod Melt” – And for such boring pictures, too. Look.. long exposure clouds and lava. Wow. Maybe there’s a time-lapse to go with that so we can round out the full list of cliches?

  • Dave Reynolds

    Phenomenal photos. I hope he doesn’t pay the price with his life.

    Also agree with the comments that PetaPixel seems to be writing titles as bait. You don’t need to do that. You’re in my Facebook and RSS feeds. I’m gonna read you no matter what.

  • Suhas

    and i’m still ‘considering’ going on a backpacking trip through the uk… bravo mr.morgan!

  • Dontletemgetyoudown

    They aren’t boring-but they have been done before. I like that Mr. Morgan at least tried.
    I’m sure your volcano shots…,20973/

  • Irving

    Pics or it didn’t happen

  • chubbs

    I hope he doesn’t get melted himself and keeps taking pictures!

  • A_Lwin

    No pain, no gain. Nice photos, I’d most likely never dare take such risks.

  • Joe

    So he took these while on a guided workshop….. not exactly the great adventurer portrayed in the article and video!

  • Guillermo Rodriguez

    I got so frustratingly close to actually seeing pics of what is described in the headline that my brain almost melted.

  • Carlini Fotograf

    Beautiful Images…

  • Quang-Tuan Luong

    Besides the title, the article is full of exaggerations. Miles Morgan is not a “Hawaiian landscape photographer”, but a photographer from Portland who says that he took a photo tour with a Hawaiian lava photographers. He is not “standing just feet away from the crater of Kilaeua volcano” but from some molten lava flowing a dozen miles away from that crater.