Readers’ wildlife photos.

November 24, 2021 • 8:00 am

You know what to do: send ’em in! Thank you.

Today we feature photos of Mount Etna in Sicily taken by Richard Bond. His captions are indented, and you can enlarge the photos by clicking on them.

My photos near the top of Mount Etna might be of interest, though not all of nature is colorful or beautiful or both.

Anyway, from a service complex at 1,900 metres one can take a cable car to 2,500 metres. Previous iterations went higher, but were repeatedly damaged by lava flows, so now a fleet of rather specialised buses goes to nearly 3,000 metres.

The first photo shows one of these: its large wheels, long suspension travel, high ground clearance, and 4WD testify to the difficulty of the terrain. There are no fixed tracks, as new lava keeps changing the upper route.

This shows a fairly recent flow in the foreground with the top of the mountain above it. That bit of white halfway up to the left is steam issuing from a vent. The peaks are a little hazy owing, I think, to dust emitted along with the steam.

This is a close-up of the lava. The whitish inclusions are limestone, carried up from around sea level.

A general view of a crater at about 3,000 metres. It seems to be a complex of one main crater about 300 metres across containing some subsidiary ones. I walked anticlockwise right round this crater, and the next photo looks back to its lowest lip.

The next three photos are of various vents in the sides of the crater, and the fourth one is a mini crater inside the main one.

Mini crater:

This was taken near the highest point of the crater rim. The serpentine track of the bus gives some idea of the steepness and difficulty of the route.

This shows the then highest peak of Etna, 300-400 metres higher, taken as I was walking down from the crater rim. I did not have enough time to walk to the peak. There is a rather neat small crater in the middle ground. Pity about the dusty haze.

Here is one of the numerous boulders scattered around and in the crater, showing embedded limestone. This one was a bit bigger than a rugby ball.

About 30 kilometres from the peak is the delightful town of Taormina. Its main feature is a Greek theatre, which seems to have been deliberately set to have Etna as a backdrop. My photo of it below is most disappointing: I had to use a wide-angle lens setting to include all of the theatre. That not only shrunk Etna but also seemed to exacerbate the obscuring effect of the dust. I include it mainly because I wonder if any of the accomplished photographers among WEIT readers could suggest how I could have done better.

This was taken the following day at Syracuse and shows part of the quarry in which the Athenian troops who surrendered in 413 BCE were worked and starved to death. The rock is limestone, presumably part of the bed that lies under Etna and which is the source of the limestone inclusions.

14 thoughts on “Readers’ wildlife photos.

  1. I would argue, Richard, that your photos do show a natural beauty, a desolate beauty perhaps, and not terribly colorful, or at least of a limited palette when not erupting, but irresistibly beautiful to me. These are great, thanks for sharing. Magnífico! Bellissimo!

    Now if anyone wishes to see some amazing videos of volcanoes erupting, might I direct your attention to the yootoob channel of Martin Rietze.

  2. I think your only option to improve the amphitheater shot would have been to get further away from the theater and used a telephoto setting to zoom in to frame the shot. This would have made Etna appear much closer and taller in the shot. Of course, this sort of thing is not always possible. 🙂

      1. I was with a party, so time was constrained. I think that I was unlucky with the amount of dust. I have been to Taormina on other occasions when the view of Etna was much clearer.

    1. I backed away as far as I could. Any farther and I would have been on a high ridge with a risk of toppling into the sea!

  3. I like those really dramatic pictures of a still very active volcano.

    If you happen to be driving around Iceland, there is an easy walk around the rim of a (definitely long dormant) dramatic, but much smaller, volcano. From the parking, it’s a very short walk up to the rim (15 minutes), then maybe an hour around, no difficult stuff, but sandals or high heels would be a mistake of course.

    It’s almost right on the ring road #1, which circles Iceland, much near the coast but not so there, easily within an hour of Akureyri, Iceland’s ‘second’ city. But that’s a full day from Reykjavik going there clockwise on #1. Go over to the northeast side of Lake Myvatn (I think pronounced close to ‘me-vaten’; itself a major interesting place) to the town called Reykjahlidh. Any resident can tell you where it is, driving a few minutes south along the lake.

  4. Very unique and interesting!
    I have 0 experience with that challenging picture. But here are some hand-wavey ideas.
    1. Do different exposures, one to bring out the mountain better, and the other as you did here. Stitch together with layer masks.
    2. Use a polarized light filter. Many photographers swear that you should have this kind of filter on hand for any photography of skies, especially with clouds or haze. Or water.
    3. You can improve this picture, maybe, by using Photoshop and apply a de-haze filter. This can be selectively applied with a partial layer mask. Tutorials can be found in YouTube.

  5. Many thanks for the kind comments. I found Etna fascinating, but I was a bit worried if my photos would suit WEIT.

  6. Legend has it that Empedocles jumped into the mouth of Mount Etna. The mountain belched a sandal of his and that is how people found out how he died. But it’s not in the Bible so no one believes it.

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