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Saturday, 13 July 2013


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Not a lot of point in funding stupidity.

Stupid photographer of the year? He's got my vote.

Well, it may be real flames but not likely ignited by the lava. People will stage anything to go viral.

If it is real, the only thing to say is it's a real idiot taking the shot.

Please folks, the shot isn't worth death or the lives/safety of the first responders.

I'm sure it was real lava (really hot).
I'm sure it was real flames (hot).
And: I'm sure he set his feet and the tripod on fire himself.

Otherwise it wouldn't be a clever publicity stunt, but rather unbelievable stupidity.

I share your skepticism. He seems to be using the photo for Facebook 'like' farming in addition to panhandling online (for $5,000!) to buy a new camera.

I would be truly shocked if it was real!

He said they were real flames. He didn't say they were really on his tripod and sneakers.

Well it does look real but if it's hot enough to set his shoe on fire I think he'd be on fire. I mean how'd he put that out? And what about the deadly fumes emitted from the lava? Hmm.

I just did some checking on the web. Assuming that the tripod is carbon fiber, it would have to be at least 572° F (300° C) for the leg material to vaporize and ignite. Human skin will suffer 3rd degree burns at 135 to 180° F.

HDR will do that to you sometimes.

Hey, buddy! Here's a tip: they got a lens for that....
Unless you just really like the smell of burning rubber and carbon fiber.

Dear folks,

I think you're trying to read way too much into this photo. I've photographed under precisely those conditions, and my first reaction on seeing this was, "Boy, he really captured the feeling of the situation!” (In fact, a girlfriend of mine e-mailed me this morning with a link to this photo saying it made her think of me.) It's supposed to convey a mood and a feeling and, speaking from first-hand knowledge, I'd say it does it very well.

Yes, it's obviously staged; he didn't say otherwise and simple common sense (for those familiar with lava conditions) says the same thing. There are lots of stage tricks for producing flames like that, that aren't especially hazardous. Don't assume the guy's stupid unless you KNOW he's stupid. More likely, he just knows some things you don't.

As for the suggestion it's a composite, the play of light on the folds in the lava alone (a subject I'm awfully familiar with) make that unlikely. If he's really that good in Photoshop, he's one of the best on the planet and you're never, ever going to be able to tell, because he can do this stuff perfectly.

Just enjoy the photo, fergodsakes!

pax \ Ctein
[ Please excuse any word-salad. MacSpeech in training! ]
-- Ctein's Online Gallery http://ctein.com 
-- Digital Restorations http://photo-repair.com 

I've photographed Hawaiian lava flows a few times. My belief is that from a photographic point of view, there absolutely no point of getting that close, especially with the lens he is using which appears to be a trans-standard zoom. If he were using a super-wide, this might provide a different perspective, but even with such a lens, you can still stand on cold ground and fill the foreground with hot lava. This is just a stunt. No lava photographer would put themselves in such a position. Besides, the heat you feel on your face and hands would be unbearable way before a tripod catches fire, which to me suggests the flames are not from the lava.

It does not look like a fix focus lens camera. Next time he should try to change just to a more appropriate focal length...but hey, everybody makes mistakes.

Dear QT,

That photograph of Halemaumau with the Milky Way in the background is stunning... utterly stunning. Bravo!

pax / Ctein

A few comments...

For Kevin Purcell, here is the photo of the supposed sneakers:


For Jim Bullard, in regards to your assumption that the tripod is carbon fiber, I would be surprised if it was. I looks to me like it is probably aluminum (and anodized, not painted). And, I'm guessing that the rubber feet and plastic locks would catch fire before the carbon tube would vaporize or ignite. (And I'm assuming it is the epoxy/coating in a carbon fiber tube that ignites. I think carbon itself has a much higher ignition point.) So, if shoes would catch fire in that situation, tripod parts might as well. I certainly wouldn't take my RSS tripod into those conditions. Three feet deep in a river in Laos? Yes. A lava field, no. :)

For Ctein, am I getting a "tsk tsk" tone in your message? I don't think I'm reading anything into the photo, and the only "mood and feeling" it conveyed to me personally is "I'm faking it." If you read some of the fanfare around it, he may not be explicitly saying the lava caught his shoes/tripod, but he may be guilty by omission. He is certainly acting as if that is exactly what happened. The thing that bothers me is that I feel like it is disingenuous; I get an uneasy feeling by watching his behavior (solely on Facebook, not a very big sample, I admit), not by what he writes (or is written about him). Therefore I don't enjoy the photo. I'm not assuming anything about his relative intelligence. Unlike Kevin and yourself, I have zero experience with anything to do with lava. In a former life I did have to pay close attention to metal temperatures as they were joined, welded, melted, forged, etc. That might count for something as I have burned the soles of my boots, leather protective gear, my skin, etc.

For QT Luong, I think you state it best. However, there is another photographer claiming that he gets close enough that his shoes and tripod "melts":


And here:


That's a bit different from items bursting into flame.

I certainly think Miles Morgan does a better job of lava photography than Kawika Singson. I'm not one for sunset pictures, which is what is mostly what you find in Singson's photo gallery on FB and site:


But that's just my opinion, and opinions are like… well, you know.


WOW! What a shot! Thanks for sharing.

I love volcanoes, lava and photographing them. Would like to see more of your live lava images.

Here's an article on the photographer: http://firsttoknow.com/man-vs-volcano-kawika-singsons-passion-catches-flame/ In it, you get (at least) to see some of his lava photos. The articles states "No, his shoes and tripod did not combust due to the lava. But this photo wasn’t taken to mislead people". I am not so sure of the latter statement. Wondering how many of the folks who "liked" his FB page realized what this was about.

It looks cool, but i don't buy it--here's my thinking: 1. The autoignition point for cotton or even polyester is lower than most plastics or rubbers (presumably the tripod feet/shoes), so shouldn't his trousers be alight? 2. Assuming his shoes have an EVA midsole as most running shoes do, this puts the temperature at his feet somewhere in the neighborhood of 600 F. 3. Assuming the tripod is carbon fiber (if aluminum he would no doubt be gravely injured) and assuming that the epoxy binder is alight and not the actual carbon fiber, it would still be in the neighborhood of 500 F out there. Again, above the autoignition point for cotton. 4. Assuming a large heat source, whether it be the ground beneath or somewhere off camera, the tiny differences in proximity on the scale of a man-sized object are negligible. 5. Did i mention that hair ignites at a lower temperature than cotton? 6. There's no indication of the dark, sooty smoke often seen from burning rubber and plastics. It just looks like he poured some lighter fluid on his stuff. Maybe that tripod is aluminum after all.

Assuming a temperature range of 500 F-600 F, the idea that someone could prepare, frame, and capture a shot whilst various materials around him are autoigniting (though not ones that sensibly might) and walk away unscathed pushes the bounds of believability.

Throw in the appeal for a crowdfunded (free) camera, and you get a big, fat red flag.

An update, at the end of the following article, confirms that yes, those are "real" flames, but not caused by the lava:


It's interesting that our spontaneous reaction is to ask "But is it real?"

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