By Dan Rowlands and Chris Adams
A graphic designer camped out in freezing cold conditions to capture a spectacular shot of an erupting volcano – only for a LIGHTNING BOLT to strike the lava spurt.
Hernando Rivera struck gold with the dazzling star-spangled snaps as he sat opposite the famous Volcán de Colima in central Mexico.
The photographer took up the perfect vantage point 12km from the centuries-old volcano, which is currently active and surrounded by an 8km exclusion zone.
His stunning series of pictures, taken last Thursday, show white-hot lava spouting from the crater 12,500ft above sea level, with the lightning bolt emerging from clouds of black smoke.
Hernando, 34, said: “When the volcano erupts, it sounds like a big bomb. It can be dangerous being so close, but mainly I am excited rather than scared.
“In these pictures, Volcán de Colima is erupting with white lava bombs, while at the same time it is being hit by some lightning.
“I was alone at night when I took them. I like to go alone. Sometimes I get as close as 7km or 5km, but on this occasion I was 12km away.
“When I take the pictures, my reaction is one of happiness and smiles, because they look spectacular.
“The lightning is caused by friction within particles. They are too hot and crash, creating static, and this kind of phenomenon leads to lightning.
“Of course it is hard to capture such an image, because you need to wait many hours and stay watching and ready all the time.
“With low temperatures between 0 and 10 degrees, in the dark, it can be difficult on the hills.”
Hernando, who lives with his parent Sophey and their two French bulldogs, is originally from Mexico City, but now lives in Colima.
Volcán de Colima, which straddles the states of Colima and Jalisco, forms part of the Eje Volcánico Transversal mountain range, and is one of the most active volcanoes in Mexico.
It first erupted in 1576 and is flanked by another volcano, Nevado de Colima, and the eroded El Cantaro, now extinct.
Hernando said: “I’m a graphic designer and photographer for government in Colima, but I do a lot of freelance photography as well.
“This is a particularly big eruption. It got intense. It happened at around 10pm. I like how starry the sky is. What more can I ask for?
“I have to be attentive when I’m there. I take a few photos and go back to waiting. There are some photographers who take thousands of pictures looking for ‘the one’. But I prefer to hunt them down.”