We've been following SmugMug Films' ongoing behind-the-lens series which provide a look at people who follow their passions in photography. The latest installment features Hawaii-based duo CJ Kale and Nick Selway, who have spent the last ten years photographing volcanic lava flows in their home state.
We asked the pair a few question about how they got started and how they stay out of harm's way in their line of work. Here's what they said.
How did each of you get started as photographers?
CJ: I started photographing when I was a kid with a camera my mom gave me to get started. It was an Olympus that used a 1/2 wind, great for learning exposure on film. I fell in love with photography and did it as a hobby for years, later I pursued it as a career. Photographing the lava and off of boats where I later met Nick Selway and we opened or first gallery together about 10 years ago.
Nick: I always had a love for the outdoors. Later in college I took some photography classes and learned that I had a natural eye. I needed to learn the camera and the technical aspects of photography, and school did that for me.
You work in some precarious, often dangerous settings. How do you choose what gear you take with you?
We will choose gear that is need to capture the particular shot or shots that we are going for. Unfortunately due to weight we can't always carry all the safety gear we would like to have. Water is important but sometimes first aid is miles away. Camera gear takes precedence
|Photo by CJ Kale and Nick Selway - Lava Light Galleries|
What gear do you shoot with most frequently?
Due to the cost of film we shoot mostly digital but when conditions are right we love to shoot off a few frames of 4x5 film for the resolution.
What kinds of precautions do you take when shooting near active volcanos?
First we bring water as it is easy to get dehydrated out there. Next, a mask for the fumes. Good shoes are important, and then the most important thing is knowledge of the volcano and its dangers, which can only be learned over time from someone who has learned it before you.
|Photo by CJ Kale and Nick Selway - Lava Light Galleries|
Have you ever set up a shot and decided 'no this is too dangerous'?
In our line of work we come across many images that we would like to capture but the conditions just do not allow for. Knowing these conditions can be the difference between life or death out there.
What tips would you give a beginner interested in photographing volcanoes?
The best tip is to go with a knowledgeable guide that will keep you safe. After that, our best advice is to bring a good tripod to allow you to be creative with your exposures. Always keep a keen eye on changes in the landscape that occur constantly and adapt to them.
How do you stay inspired as photographers and artists?
With mother nature there is never a lack of inspiration - there is just not enough time in this life to capture all we have been inspired by.
How do you define success?
Capturing an image that gives someone the feeling of the area that we were at and conveys the beauty and spirit of the landscape to its viewer.
Check out the latest video above and subscribe to the SmugMug Films YouTube channel and get first access to each new episode. SmugMug plans to release a new clip once a month.
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