Drone captures dramatic footage of Bardarbunga volcano

"Apparently it had been so hot that the camera had melted," said Eric Cheng.
By Brooks Hays  |  Oct. 3, 2014 at 11:37 AM
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REYKJAVIK, Iceland, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- A team of videographers recently sent a drone armed with a GoPro camera to visit the currently erupting Holuhraun fissure atop Iceland's Bardarbunga volcano. The results are stunning and exceedingly rare, featuring closeup footage of bubbling, exploding magma. Watching, you can almost feel the lethal heat as the drone hovers above the vent of red, molten rock.

The dramatic montage wouldn't be possible without the tag-team efforts of drone operator and film director Eric Cheng, director of aerial imaging for drone maker DJI, and photographer Ragnar Th. Sigurdsson. Cheng handled the technical aspects, while Sigurdsson, a native of Iceland and a veteran of dramatic landscape photography, handled logistics and aesthetics -- securing permits to get close enough to the volcano and ensuring the cinematography looked just right.

To capture the footage, Cheng and Sigurdsson drove as close as they could to the active volcano. But as Cheng told Wired, they were eventually stopped and told they couldn't drive any closer.

According to Cheng, a policeman told the duo: "We checked the rules, and vehicles can't drive closer. However, you could theoretically walk closer. I have to inform you that we officially do not recommend this, because it's dangerous."

To get his drone in range, Cheng decided to hike another mile, outfitted with a gas mask and heavy boots. And while the finished product is rather remarkable, it didn't come without a price.

"Apparently it had been so hot that the camera had melted," Cheng explained in an accompanying behind-the-scenes segment. "Luckily the micro SD card survived -- I was able to pull all of the footage off of it."

"The fact that you can take a one thousand dollar flying camera and put it in the middle of an erupting volcano to capture wide angle views of this giant bowl of molten lava which is exploding and throwing lava 150 meters or so into the air is pretty amazing," added Cheng.

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