Chilean photographer Francisco Negroni (1st Classified, The Beauty of Nature, SIPA 2018) described how he captured his stunning and award-winning shot of a violent night eruption of Calbuco volcano in the Lagos region of Chile in 2008 as “a simple setup.”

“The technique was simple,” he said in an interview with Endgadget. “Long exposure, tripod and a 80-200mm lens. Approximately 10 minutes to achieve that incredible image that, without a doubt, is my best photograph of an eruption and I think the best taken in the world.” He shot the image with a Nikon D600 camera with a Nikon 2.8 lens.

In a recent email, Negroni further explained that while the gear setup was simple, actually getting the shot was far more complicated.

After more than 40 years without activity, on April 22 of 2015, a new eruption began on the Calbuco volcano, located in the Tenth Region of the Lakes south of the capital city of Santiago, Negroni explained.

“While I was driving down the road to take pictures of another active volcano in Chile, I was informed that the Calbuco volcano had erupted, quickly changed course and after about 2 hours of travel arrived in the town of Frutillar where in front of this place is located the volcano, only separated by Lake Llanquihue.”

It was there, he said, that he began to take the first photographs.

At nightfall, the volcanic activity subsided, leaving many to wonder if the eruption was over.

“While many were already retiring to their homes to rest, after midnight believing that everything had happened, a big explosion began to shake the land and the environment filled with a large fumarole while thousands of electric beams that illuminated everything around them creating a unique show and wonderful but very afraid,” Negroni recalled.

At this point, more than 4,000 people were evacuated while the lava rose in the sky with each explosion.

“After 2 a.m. a thick fog completely hid the volcano. In order to take better pictures I advanced on the road towards high places, reaching a remote sector on the way to the Sarao mountain range, west of the Volcano, from where I could visualize the infernal spectacle and it is there where I achieved this photography. When I saw the picture I had captured, it was a hypnotizing image… incredible. I can not think of having been able to capture something better and with so much fury. It is the faithful reflection of what I always thought I could do …the most sublime spectacle of Nature.”

The long exposure allowed Negroni to capture the full drama of both the eruption and the dramatic, lightning-streaked weather phenomenon known as a “dirty storm” when ash, rock and other materials smash together, causing static electricity in the plume of a volcanic eruption.

Calbuco Volcano Eruption. from Francisco Negroni on Vimeo.

Along with the simple camera setup, Negroni reports that he travels light in the Chilean backcountry to get his jaw-dropping shots of erupting volcanos, with little personal gear and just three lenses.

Learn more about Francisco Negroni and his work via his website here: and via Colossal here:

Location:       Los Ríos Region (Chile)

Settings:         231 sec. – f/5.6 – ISO 100

About The Author

Francisco Negroni

Francisco Negroni is an independent Chilean photographer. He has collaborated with a variety of media, such as the Chilean newspapers El Mercurio, La Tercera, Lun, Diario El Sur, Diario Austral and Enfoque Magazine among others. He now works as an independent photographer for several national and international press agencies. He has published his work in AFP, Reuters, EFE, AP, GlobalPost, National Geographic, Agenciauno, and Terra.

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