Located off the coast of southern Italy, Sicily’s Mount Etna has a beauty that is guaranteed year round. Photographer Fernando Famiani, born and raised in Italy, knows that better than anyone else. He fell in love with the imposing-looking mountain when he was just a little boy, thanks to the stories his grandparents told him, and his feelings never faded. As a youth, he would often climb up to the highest point in his area, to just sit and admire “this great mountain’s smoke and murmurs.”
My grandparents told me stories about cyclops who lived in caves at the foot of the mountain, using the inside of the volcano as a smithy to build weapons for the gods.
Over the years, his love led to taking pictures of the mountain – and lots of them. Not just classic shots of an erupting peak, which may be the most spectacular ones, but many other angles too, during all sorts of weather conditions: fog, clouds, dawn, night… He has tried other mountains, but nothing compared to what he and his fellow Sicilians call “our mother.”
Talking to Resource Travel about the dangers of photographing an erupting volcano, Fernando emphasizes that it’s important to always respect the mountain. Some of his friends have suffered skin burns, while others have fallen or gotten lost during nightly excursions.
Thanks to constant updates by INGV, it’s possible to plan a photographic excursion relatively safely. But a certain amount of danger is always present.
Years of experience have also taught Fernando that the volcano’s scenarios are extremely various.
Etna is not programmable. It might decide, all of a sudden, to offer an exciting show which begins and climaxes in the span of 15 minutes.
Afterwards, Famiani would sit and stare for five more days, while nothing else happens.
Fernando’s camera bag contains a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 stabilized, a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4.0 stabilized and a Tamron AF 10-24mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. One of his Etna-pictures won an award in the “Documentary” category of the Magnum Photography Awards 2016. More pictures (with a higher resolution) can be viewed and purchased on Fernando’s 500px-page. He’s also on Facebook and featured on LensCulture.