Photos From the Kilauea Volcano in Hawaii

(Photo by Mike Mezeul II D850 Af-S Nikkor 14-24mm F/2.8G ED, 5 seconds, F/6.3, ISO 800, Manual exposure, Matrix metering)

The Hawaiian islands are the peaks of mountains formed by Volcanos. Volcanos that are still active. The Kilauea Volcano is the most active of the five volcanos that make up the island of Hawaii or the Big Island. In March of 2018, the Kilauea Volcano became active again. At first, all its action was underground. Pressure built up as the magma was looking for a new release point. In May there were earthquakes and finally eruptions.

As of the end of June 2018 close to seven hundred homes have been lost on the island due to a combination of fires, lava flow, and earthquakes.

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(Photo by Mike Mezeul II D850 AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm F/5.6 ED VR, 1/2500 second, F/5.6, ISO 2500, Manual exposure, Matrix metering)

Photographer Mike Mezeul II traveled to the big island of Hawaii from late May to Mid June of 2018 on multiple trips totaling 14 days on the island.

Members of the media were only allowed into the area near the Volcano when they were accompanied by the National Guard. Mike tells Nikon:

"I was pretty scared," Mike says. "I'd been there [photographing Kilauea] in 2016, but this was very different. We needed to have masks and helmets, stuff's falling out of the sky, cracks are opening, things are blowing up. All my feelings of experience and confidence from my first time in 2016 went out the window as soon as I arrived this time. We were told the first day that 'no human being should be going where you're going, and even though you're with the military, that does not guarantee we will come in to rescue you if you need it.'

"It was pretty serious stuff, and the people on patrol were not to be fooled with."

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(Photo by Mike Mezeul II D850, AF-S NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8G ED, 1/320 second, f/9, ISO 1600, manual exposure, Matrix metering.)

Look at how terrifying that photo is. He's literally driving away for his life. There are more dangers than just lava, too. Something most people don't talk about with Volcanos is the dangerous gas they release. When the geysers are shooting hot lava into the air, sometimes as high as 280 feet, they're releasing a massive amount of toxic sulfur dioxide. It's invisible too, so you don't know when you're going to run into a pocket of it. This is especially tricky if you're in a helicopter. The lower you are, the more you're at risk.

To read Mike's full story and see more of his epic photos, head on over to Nikon.