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December 8, 2010 Permalink

Kawah Ijen by night

Photographer Olivier Grunewald has recently made several trips into the sulfur mine in the crater of the Kawah Ijen volcano in East Java, Indonesia, bringing with him equipment to capture surreal images lit by moonlight, torches, and the blue flames of burning molten sulfur. Covered last year in the Big Picture (in daylight), the miners of the 2,600 meter tall (8,660ft) Kawah Ijen volcano trek up to the crater, then down to the shore of a 200-meter-deep crater lake of sulfuric acid, where they retrieve heavy chunks of pure sulfur to carry back to a weighing station. Mr. Grunewald has been kind enough to share with us the following other-worldly photos of these men as they do their hazardous work under the light of the moon. (30 photos total)

A sulfur miner stands inside the crater of the Kawah Ijen volcano at night, holding a torch, looking towards a flow of liquid sulfur which has caught fire and burns with an eerie blue flame. (© Olivier Grunewald)
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219 comments so far...

Indonesia ...... most beautifull

Posted by Yohanes Nugroho December 8, 10 12:57 PM

#17 very nice :-)

Posted by Alex December 8, 10 12:59 PM

it's a different way to see Kawah Ijen. It's absolutely beautiful pic. Best regard from Indonesia

Posted by adi December 8, 10 01:03 PM


Posted by AT December 8, 10 01:05 PM

Surprisingly it's been a year now since I saw the last year coverage!
And these pictures as awesome as the previous one. Thanks to Big Picture.

Posted by ical December 8, 10 01:05 PM

#15 is absolutely stunning

Posted by Bagel December 8, 10 01:12 PM

Amazing stuff!
What an amazing world we live in!

Posted by Christine December 8, 10 01:13 PM


Posted by Manu December 8, 10 01:16 PM

It looks like a map for God of War. Ha!

Posted by Orenjs December 8, 10 01:24 PM

Remember "Matrix Reloaded"?: Sion 2.0

Posted by Andrés December 8, 10 01:26 PM

The documentary Working Man's Death has a great section on this same mine. see it on Youtube.

Posted by Templeton December 8, 10 01:29 PM

i wonder how long do the these miners get to stay healthy. amazing images. mind-boggling.

Posted by jana December 8, 10 01:32 PM

The original "brimstone"! Sulfur (or, if you are European, Sulphur) is one of the few solid elements easily found in its pure form on Earth. Love the blue of the fires going to sulfite and suflate. Very surreal.

Posted by Phoenixbeak December 8, 10 01:34 PM

Only $13.00 a day, for all of that? Wow! That's harsh!

Posted by Carol December 8, 10 01:37 PM

tanah airku
i miss u java

Posted by mfpjconn December 8, 10 01:39 PM

Wow it looks beautiful... but I saw a documentary about the health issues of those people once. Not a job you wan´t to do unless you have to.

Posted by Noxx December 8, 10 01:46 PM

Fascinating! So vivid. They almost look like HDR photos!

Posted by Tomara December 8, 10 01:53 PM

I guess a lot of people missed the point that those poor guys are being paid $13/day to sacrifice their healthy for sulphur.

Posted by jedwards December 8, 10 01:59 PM

I don't quite understand why they have to work at night ? is it because they need to light fires in their process, hence darkness facilitates the task ?

Posted by Romain December 8, 10 02:00 PM

Awesome! I wonder if Canon or Nikon holds up best....

Posted by Alex December 8, 10 02:04 PM

Great Picture..

Posted by Indlest December 8, 10 02:12 PM

That does not look safe.

Posted by SoulChorea December 8, 10 02:13 PM

When you think that your work is the worst, think a while to this one and you'll feel better! :)

Posted by olly December 8, 10 02:22 PM

I'm sure $13 american, adjusted to their local currency, is worth quite a bit more than it would be here. Not saying the conditions are not horrible, but I'm sure those men made the decision to work in this job, rather than elsewhere. I would imagine they are able to provide fairly well for their families, or they would not be out there.

Posted by Chris Peterson December 8, 10 02:28 PM

Imaging having no choice but to do this job. For 13 dollars a day.

Thank you for telling the miners' story Mr Grunewald.

Posted by Gwen December 8, 10 02:35 PM

Amazing pictures but who are these companies that are purchasing the sulfur? And are these companies aware of the working conditions of these people?

Posted by Sergio December 8, 10 02:38 PM

Why is some of the molten sulfer red & yellow, & some is pictured blue?

Posted by Oldtrekkie December 8, 10 02:41 PM

Amazing pictures... working in a sulphuric mine w/o gas masks? Not cool. Let's get those guys some masks.

Posted by guaf December 8, 10 02:55 PM

amazing pictures as always .. and to much off a work for $13/day ....

Posted by yogi December 8, 10 03:04 PM

No person on the planet should work in these conditions for $13 USD/day. Yet they do. And other people get paid even less. And other people cannot even find such a job.

And there are those who become billionaires, profiting on the toil of these poor people.

But we are coming... We are rising and nothing can stop us now...

Their days are numbered...

Posted by revenge December 8, 10 03:09 PM

Wow I love picture 17..!!!

Posted by Chickentoaster December 8, 10 03:22 PM

At 30 -

I agree. We should impose a tax of 100% on all income in the USA, Canada, Japan and Europe over the world average family income (say $1000-2000 US per year) and distribute the rest to poor people around the world. Everyone making more than this is stealing from the poor in the third world countries. Down with the thieves!

Posted by Social Justice December 8, 10 04:01 PM

Lots of pretty colors and effects. If it weren't for the hard work (and the odor, if I remember right, sulfur smells pretty bad), that would be an amazing place to work.

Posted by Jhon December 8, 10 04:14 PM

The beauty in the pics are so deceiving. Damn, $13 a day in such a hellish environment is definitely sick, so sick. And I am assuming the company that owns this is a multinational? THe workers would be lucky if they have health insurance coverage and other benefits for that matter.

Posted by jun December 8, 10 04:36 PM

Incredible showcase. Kawa Ijen is very easy to make beautiful pictures, but to make one like this takes a lot more. Nice to see this place in a different way I'm used to !

Posted by elcastelcom December 8, 10 04:42 PM

to bad ppl have to work under so harsh and hostile conditions for the things western consumers don't even realize!
I'm one of these ppl that keep and like to forget.
The good thing is BP brings one back to reality once in a while.

Posted by tidel December 8, 10 04:46 PM

At 30:
Social Justice:
You guys are parasites.
You guys never was a hard job in your lives.
You guys wouldn't know a chunk of sulfur if it sat on you.

Posted by Archimedes December 8, 10 04:49 PM

Watching these men makes me want to go there and start implementing some improvement in their working conditions. I understand they don't have electrical power at this location but nevertheless that makes me upset.

Posted by theotherjimmyolson December 8, 10 05:09 PM

Amazing photos.

You can see why primitive people thought these places were inhabited by spirits/demons/gods. Nothing like a hill of blue fire to make you see god, lol.

Posted by humanbeing December 8, 10 05:14 PM

"The feeling is like being on another planet"... Thank BG... Amazing Earth...

Posted by michael December 8, 10 05:24 PM

At 33

Do you really believe that there is a multinational corporation producing sulfur by sending people into a volcano to carry it out in 150 pounds loads? This has to be the most inefficient way to produce sulfur on the planet. I can assure you that the multinational produce all the sulfur they want as a byproduct of oil and gas production.

The people do this work because it pays better than any other job they can get, and if they are being "exploited" it is by their fellow Indonesians.

Posted by Anonymous December 8, 10 05:40 PM

It's great pictures...

I like scene in picture @14 :)

Thank you.

Posted by Purohit December 8, 10 05:53 PM

At 33

Do you really believe that there is a multinational corporation producing sulfur by sending people into a volcano to carry it out in 150 pounds loads? This has to be the most inefficient way to produce sulfur on the planet. I can assure you that the multinational produce all the sulfur they want as a byproduct of oil and gas production.

The people do this work because it pays better than any other job they can get, and if they are being "exploited" it is by their fellow Indonesians.

Posted by Anonymous December 8, 10 05:58 PM

It's magic.

Posted by Eryck December 8, 10 06:05 PM

When one traces any of our seemingly neat and tidy technologies (like car tires or sugar production, etc.) they are inevitably led back to the messy and insecure business of obtaining raw materials from the earth.

It's so easy to be disconnected from that reality as we live our urban and suburban lives in developed countries where we get our things off of store shelves and consume them with confidence that tomorrow the same shelves will surely be restocked.

Makes me appreciate these hardy and hearty people who make our comfortable lives possible. And the earth's finite reserves we so much take for granted.

Posted by Alan Zulch December 8, 10 06:38 PM

Beautiful and sad to see the inhuman conditions of work, very sad

Posted by Anonymous December 8, 10 06:48 PM

Another view of a famous place in Indonesia.
We LOVE Indonesia

Posted by Paul Boppo December 8, 10 07:24 PM

Here we are yet again...........GREED!...........privatisation! Oh how the millions love it!.................I am not religeous but, God help us all......................and if You are not there overseeing it...............We have NO HOPE! What is is it they say? Love thy lol lol lol

Posted by Maureen B December 8, 10 07:29 PM

The miners are most certainly not wearing enough protective gears! The ultra flithy rich Indonesians exploit their fellow extremely poor Indonesians without any sense of guilt. SHAME ON THEM!

Posted by lizzie December 8, 10 07:52 PM

Obviously,people die for wealth,as birds die for food.Nobody wants to die unless there is a forced reason.Same situations exist in many developing and undeveloped countries.They just earn for their lives.

Posted by jerryfen December 8, 10 08:33 PM

fascinating picture!!
*I miss Java, the land where I was born...


Posted by pram December 8, 10 08:36 PM

Great picture, even i am Indonesian i never going there :)
because the simplicity it makes wonderful, also it gives the local people to struggling for their family . Could you imagine if the location handle by big companies ??? not everyone could enter and enjoy the beauty of natural phenomena, what happen with local people especially with low education???
so many other natural place so attractive to be visited ... such as Mount Bromo @ East Java that currently on eruption stage after Mount Merapi eruption.

Posted by Merah Putih December 8, 10 09:11 PM

Hell, pure hell.

Thank God people are willing to ruin their lives to supply our blue-tip matches.

Posted by Dante December 8, 10 09:48 PM

No me imaginé ver tantas fotos, excelentes!!!! Saludos!

Posted by Gustavo December 8, 10 10:03 PM

The tragedy in 13May - 15May 1998, is still fresh in every moment i heard the word of Indonesia

Posted by why December 8, 10 10:22 PM

very beautiful..............

Posted by wongkulon December 8, 10 11:18 PM

At 19, I agree "why do they work at night?" but I suppose with just photos to tell the story we have to enjoy the images as they are all beautiful.

Posted by Kevin December 8, 10 11:43 PM

These are cool pictures. I'm Indonesian, I never went there, and I'm still so amazed by the beauty of this country.And yeah $13 may only buy you two typical meals in developed countries, but it's quite a lot here.Not everybody needs car, ipad or the coolest gadgets.Lots of others would work for less in a much worse condition. I'm not saying these miners have the happiest (work) lives,but if you look at it from different perspective, you might understand

Posted by Indonesian December 8, 10 11:53 PM

So beautiful but cruel indeed...

Posted by seikomatic December 9, 10 12:55 AM

This is truly one one of the saddest things I have seen on big picture.

Posted by nathanael December 9, 10 01:07 AM


I love these pictures!

Posted by 太岁 December 9, 10 01:42 AM

very nice

Posted by Hartanta December 9, 10 02:45 AM

Damn, and to think, I just take it for granted that we have sulfur for our fertilizers and fungicides. (Ever smell those store-bought strawberries? Sulfur!)

And it's so prevalent in Canadian oil fields that they have huge piles of the stuff sitting at the Vancouver port, with plenty of fresh air and delicious tap water free for the drinking.

Posted by anonymous coward December 9, 10 05:15 AM

Olivier Grünewald is a French photographer whose photos are often dramatic. Here again, one can appreciate the high quality of the pictures. However, I personally regret the overexposure of the flames and other points of intense light that too rapidly draw the eye on some of the photos. I think this can be explained by the fact Olivier recently opted for full frame digital cameras instead of traditional photo equipment.
If you are interested in volcanoes, you can visit my bilingual weblog that gives daily information about volcanic activity all over the world:

Posted by Claude Grandpey December 9, 10 05:25 AM

#11 looks like h*ll on earth. the person in front even has spikes on his hat that look like horns! yikes; what a picture!

Posted by denheels December 9, 10 07:33 AM

Fantastis picture.........

Posted by iklan denpasar December 9, 10 07:52 AM

Ist the best picture n' great moment !
Salute for you Mr. Olivier Grunewald.
You have catch my Contry Mountain
with your expert.!

Posted by unank December 9, 10 08:23 AM

I think I'll keep my job as a software engineer. And say a prayer of thanks every day.

Posted by Mark December 9, 10 08:37 AM

congratulation to the photographer who made exellent pictures !

Posted by kurt beiner December 9, 10 08:51 AM


Posted by Nedd Ludd December 9, 10 09:02 AM

j'aime le ton convenu de tous les commentaires, mais "côté" cool sans un regard critique de la condition des mineurs, cela me reste sans voix. Bon visionnage à tous les (bons pensants) bo bo de la planète. je suis vraiment en colère; wojtek de FRANCE

Posted by WOJTEK December 9, 10 09:20 AM

amazing pics!
I was there a few days ago and I could not stay there for more than 5 minutes! it's almost impossible to breath! incredible the heavy work these guys are doing! and only for 600 rupies a kilo!

Posted by Quique December 9, 10 09:26 AM

Like most industrial settings, I'm going to say that these guys work around the clock. The images were probably taken during a night shift to get more impressive pictures.

Posted by Darth Diddy December 9, 10 09:43 AM

If I was an Indonesiani I would most certainly be drinking and making coffee beans instead of.... PEEEEE YEEEEW!.... sulfites. I mean come on baby! Coffee smell good! Sulfites, and obviously then sulfer, smells awful you guys!

Anyway, the pix is AWESOME~ even though some likely is drugs...

This would be me "Hi! My name is Jones. I'm just makin some coffee and drinkin what I make! Want somes?"

Posted by Jones IN4COFFEE! December 9, 10 10:11 AM

Kudos to photographer Oliver Grunewald

Posted by Jul December 9, 10 01:52 PM

Incdredible photos! Respect!

Posted by Jogi R. December 9, 10 02:48 PM

Beautiful pics. I am ashamed for the cost to humanity. Cut loose with some hazard suits and fresh air for the people who have no choice but to do this kind of work. Even here in America it's discusting to see workers using only bandana's to filter sulpher fumes at raisin processing plants. Where is the humanity? Greed uber alles!

Posted by Robin Bradley December 9, 10 03:04 PM

It is beautiful to see the blue flames of elemental sulfur. The pictures are amazing!! Most sulfur containing compounds usually smell bad, like rotten eggs. It is often called stink chemistry!!

The burning of sulfur produces sulfur dioxide (SO2) not sulfate and sulfite since you need a counter ion to balance the charges (for example sodium in sodium sulfate and sodium sulfite Na2SO4 and Na2SO3 respectively).

Posted by Anna December 9, 10 03:07 PM

That's Indonesia...Please come to my beautiful country... :)
Kawah Ijen in a very high valley (2200 mtrs above sea level) so even on a tropical area, the temperature was so cool..
I ever came to there at noon (temp. not until 10 deg.C) and I never imagine if the view at night,so beautiful,,, beautiful my country... I wanna come to there at night and eternize into my camera...

Posted by Tonny - Indonesian on East Java December 9, 10 03:25 PM

Glad to see the miners are getting more for their labor this year. Last year's post cited daily earnings of Rp50,000 (which at the time was worth $5.00 u.s.). This year's post cites $13, which at current exchange rates is worth Rp110,000, more than 100% increase. Hopefully inflation hasn't kept pace and their real income has also risen.

Posted by Choudoufu December 9, 10 03:28 PM

Incredible to be able see these vivid photographs.

Breathtaking to imagine those miners walking through their daily task knowing the enormity of the risk and the relative insignificance of the reward.

Posted by fhaedra December 9, 10 03:34 PM

What amazing photos !! Fills me with awe and humility at the same time. God bless those men and their families. Marge

Posted by Marge Stark December 9, 10 03:40 PM

Pretty cool. I suppose it was worth the loss of one camera and two lenses.. maybe..

Posted by Smark December 9, 10 03:44 PM

Sem palavras.Fotos magnificas.Grande trabalho fotografico e grande trabalho humano,infelizmente e miseravelmente mal pago, tendo em conta as condições de trabalho dos mineiros que a curto prazo terão graves problemas de saúde para o resto das suas curtas vidas.

Posted by josé faria December 9, 10 04:02 PM

I would prefer that the Indonesians that chop their rainforest down to grow palm oil plantations would work in the sulfur mines instead. $13/day in the jungles of Java is pretty good until the WTO redistributes poverty.

Posted by The Chemist December 9, 10 04:45 PM

This is gorgeous, really! I love these snapshots

Posted by SAM957 December 9, 10 05:36 PM

#37: No revenge!!!!

Please don't cedo, cedere, cederi.

Posted by Bismarck Holternos December 9, 10 06:16 PM

No word's can express these piture and the men and women who work in them.

again thank-you and be save,God love and bless you all!!!!

Posted by william robichaud December 9, 10 06:17 PM

No word's can express these piture and the men and women who work in them.

again thank-you and be save,God love and bless you all!!!!

Posted by william robichaud December 9, 10 06:21 PM

Guys should form a union, go on strike if they think they're not getting paid enough.

Awesome photos however.

Posted by Spacemonkey December 9, 10 07:06 PM

we were there 10 years ago and it was really strange experience...i felf sorry for all that workers who have to work was even hard to go down and back up...with no carrying anything.i understand that this is a job and it´s good to have a job...but it scared me...i felt bad to be there and do nothing..beautifil scenery and hard reality .happy to see those pictures again to remind me a lot of human´s stories and all my trip

Posted by lucie December 9, 10 07:31 PM

Man that looks like hard work! Nice shots bot so are the ones taken of solar flares!

Posted by raymond clifford December 9, 10 08:00 PM

Such beautiful use of light, shadow and color to make these wonderful photos that I keep returning to.

Posted by An amateur photographer December 9, 10 09:24 PM

#17. Kyo Kusanagi vs. Iori Yagami? =)

Posted by Rodrigo Souza, a.k.a. Sargento December 9, 10 11:01 PM

Lost 1 camera, and 2 lenses, coz of the fume. A great sacrifice for GREAT PICTURES

Posted by Muhamad Waldi December 9, 10 11:28 PM

It saddens me that the only person wearing any form of protection is the photographer. Amazing pictures none the less!

Posted by oqsig99 December 10, 10 12:56 AM

Awesome pictures, but a rather terrible job to have...

Posted by Chris December 10, 10 01:02 AM

Great and nice shot...
Thanks for sharing and inspiring ...
Love Indonesia and love Kawah Ijen ... will back there for the forth times ...
Thanks GOD .....

Posted by Beng Harianto December 10, 10 02:08 AM

It's so beutifuL............Type your comment here...

Posted by ose December 10, 10 03:18 AM

absolutly stunning pictures, great work.

Posted by Michele D. December 10, 10 05:01 AM

amazing photos..!! takes really effort to capture those moments.
Really pity those workers who gain a megre 13$s for making 3-4 trips in a day carrying loads of sulphur blocks.
Life is a lesson, we learnt it when we are through.....the lines holds true here.

Bravo. Bravo.

Posted by RangaNidhi.V. J December 10, 10 05:51 AM


Posted by azmi December 10, 10 07:02 AM


Posted by chris December 10, 10 07:16 AM

Debe haber ahí un hedor a huevo podrido insoportable.
Yes It's beautiful to see, but for sure it stinks as rotten egg!

Posted by Mitch Bugatti December 10, 10 07:33 AM

I pour iron for a living. I make a good wage just like these guys. The conditions are harsh but the benefits are rewarding. I am willing to bet some of these guys love their job and barely notice the smell anymore. I drank 150-300 ounces of water each night last summer because it was so hot and I would sweat so much, but I would take that over sitting at a desk and growing a fat ass any day.

Posted by Adam December 10, 10 07:52 AM

This is terribly sad. SO2 is an highly poisonous gas. I can't imagine how they could live long working in such a place. Beautiful, yet deadly.

There must be a reason. Why doesn't the article explain this?

I can only make one guess, based on Caption 15. It says "Miners will extinguish the flames before they leave to prevent any loss of sulfur."
But that's pretty obviously not true. HOW would they extinguish such widespread fires? Throwing buckets of the acidic water? What buckets?
Also, later pics show them leaving, fires still burning.

I think they can't put out the fires. But in daylight it may be hard to see the pale blue flames of burning sulfur. Perhaps it's only safe to work at night, because in daylight they could accidentally walk into the flames? Or go too close, and die of SO2 gas inhalation?

Posted by TerraHertz December 10, 10 08:00 AM

Whow... Never know this existed. Awesome photos! 8)

Posted by Angelo Michel December 10, 10 10:06 AM

absolutely amazing!!

Posted by vamapaull December 10, 10 10:29 AM

Think of these images the next time you want to complain about your line of work.

Posted by Anonymous December 10, 10 11:24 AM

yet another example of human exploitation....great fotography...
i had no idea that we bleach sugar with that insane or what.

Posted by oseas ramirez December 10, 10 01:00 PM

I worked in a scientific team there and...

They don't usually work at night, it's just for the pictures...!
And there are usually no flames, it's just for the pictures...!
And there are much more workers usually, not only three of them !

Stop crying at them but begin to think about why they are so down the earth.
"Companies" are driven by the market, and the market is driven... by YOU!
Begin to think about all the humans suffering, all the environment spoiled to produce you cheapy cheap stuff you find everywhere in supermarkets.

BEGIN to be responsible of what you buy, don't only think about the price, you also have minds.

Ask yourself twice about what you really need... Why did the photograph throw away all his clothes at the end?! I can assure you that none of the miners throw their clothes away... even if they stink. They REPAIR them.

I hope you'll think twice now... who makes your food? who makes your coffee? your electricity?... your christmas present?

move out of your desk chair, associations are waiting for you...

Posted by Sorgho December 10, 10 06:16 PM

One other commenter has already observed this, but it deserves repeating; the sulphur we consume in the developed world does NOT come from this mine or others like it. It is obtained by the amine process during the refinement of petroleum, or pumped out of deep deposits by the Frasch process. Neither process subjects workers to hellish conditions like those depicted here. Removing sulphur from petroleum is the environmentally friendly way to get it, and accounts for the vast majority used in the U.S. and Europe.

This mine is producing sulphur for local use in Indonesia. Rich Westerners are NOT "exploiting" local labor to obtain it. Other Indonesians are.

Posted by crawfurdmuir December 10, 10 08:01 PM

Beautiful photo's. Nat Geo beautiful. Interesting how Sulfur is mined and processed. However, this obvious exploitation of humans, the altering the natural earth, and the polluting of the earth's atmosphere must be stopped! Just look at the fumes and smoke, this will all eventually reach Los Angles. What then? Where is Al Gore when we need him? This exploitive mining should be stopped, the hole filled in, the fires extinguished, and the workers? --- put them on food stamps.

(Yes, there is a little cynicism here, but why is it that we overlook the earths own "natural" self-destructiveness - but, of course, being a "natural" event makes it OK?)

Posted by David December 10, 10 08:21 PM

yuck never eating sugar again !!!
sulphur in sugar ???

Posted by paul ewing December 10, 10 09:29 PM

What a beautifull picture

Posted by Anonymous December 11, 10 12:32 AM

ya supub... nice photos its too much denzrous to see but nice formation of sulphur....

Posted by jayesh patil December 11, 10 12:38 AM

interesting photos .i like it

Posted by amrit December 11, 10 02:42 AM

wow awsome i love it

Posted by bunny December 11, 10 03:30 AM


Posted by 抹茶 December 11, 10 07:11 AM

What God made

Posted by Rae December 11, 10 10:23 AM

Mining--above or below ground, what an inhumane endeavor.

Posted by Chris Sasaki December 11, 10 11:38 AM

Las fotos son impresionantes, pero las condiciones de trabajo, un verdadero desastre.

Posted by Pompom December 11, 10 01:38 PM

Muy buenas fotos, increibles!!!!

Posted by Alexis December 11, 10 01:51 PM

As a kid, I had a chemistry set that included a jar of sulfur.

Sulfur stinks and burns with a blue flame as you see in the pictures, but the gases from burning sulfur are sulfur dioxide (SO2), not the very poisonous hydrogen sulfide(H2S).

That mine's an awful place to work, but mining chunks of sulfur may well be the best paying job in that area.

Posted by Floyd December 11, 10 03:20 PM

That has to be one of the most amazing things that i have EVER seen on Earth. Never knew what color Sulfur gave off under those conditions. Also didn't know how that stuff got mined. Thanks for these pictures...amazing.

Posted by F-Dizzle December 11, 10 08:03 PM

Wow! Those pictures are amazing! They are so colorful on this hi-def laptop. Onward and upward to Facebook and hoping someone there will enjoy them as much as i have.

Posted by raymond clifford December 11, 10 10:02 PM

Time for change. Footballers wages for Miners!!!

Posted by Ron December 12, 10 02:53 AM

I noticed a few people saying how they work so hard for only $13/day... Its not like it is here. Its all relative. It isnt like they pay $2 for a loaf of bread, or $200,000 for a house. Its pretty much the same as making $15/hr here. Not all the money in the world is Canadian/American...

Posted by Avacado December 12, 10 03:48 AM

None of that sulfur is used in the West. As the captions of some of the last photographs in the series indicate, it's all for local use. This is an industry created entirely in Indonesia, by Indonesians and for Indonesians.

Millions of tons of sulfur are produced in the West as a byproduct of cleaning sulfur out of oil and gas. There are also vast underground deposits of elemental sulfur in Lousiana that are melted with superheated water and piped to the surface. It's cheap and high quality, and made with comparatively little labor - it's almost all machines. Just for the sake of argument, imagine if this certified Weird Working Conditions Free sulfur (tm) were sold in Indonesia without restrictions and priced the back-packed sulfur out of the market. Would you be happy then?

You people who assume that this is the industrialized Western world exploiting the Third World are doing so without any factual basis. And consider, it's quite possible that the miners do not agree with your view that they are exploited or that they are living in hell. That's an assumption; you simply don't know. It's quite possible that they take pride in what they do and consider it interesting; that would be consistent with human nature. You should always keep that sort of thing in mind if you travel in such places -- don't insult the locals by being a patronizing oaf who 'feels their pain.'

The idea that a crime must be occurring and that we must somehow, somehwere, be culpable for it is a view instilled into you by years of stealthy leftist indoctrination. This mindset leads you to silly instinctive reactions that amount to a bizarre, updated version of The White Man's Burden -- the idea that since these people are brown and poor, we must make a commitment to be their patrons, since of course they can't find their way without us. Baloney.

Posted by Wm T Sherman December 12, 10 10:39 AM

Is there anybody who can tell me what's that blue substance on picture 25? I believe the color of liquid sulfur is orange. And the sulfur becomes blue only when it's on fire!

Posted by Jason December 12, 10 10:27 PM

Hmmm, several pages of comments with a few lines, rarely over a few paragraphs, most of them expressing humane, thoughtful comments.
Then we get a full page from Gen. Sherman, telling us all that everything we know and feel and hope is wrong and stupid.
Of course he's not an apologist for the blood-sucking capitalists. He's merely a clear thinker who refuses to be confused by anything as icky as human feeling.
Of course WE are influenced by leftist indoctrination and HE is not influenced at all by greed, self-centeredness or the total lack of humanity preached by the right.
What a pitiful waste of a brain.

Posted by Jean-Baptiste December 13, 10 02:42 AM

Cuántas sensaciones encontradas....
muchas contradicciones...
¿una tortura, bella?

Posted by Luciana Lirio December 13, 10 08:40 AM

The SAD part is that the people do this to make money... YES. but the sadder part is that people HATE the USA so much that they automatically assume WE are doing the exploiting and should be penalized for it.

But it is not our problem. We don't want the sulfer from East Java, Indonesia... This is a LOCAL issue. Instead I see comments like:

"Of course he's not an apologist for the blood-sucking capitalists. He's merely a clear thinker who refuses to be confused by anything as icky as human feeling." It is a FACT. WHY get emotions in the way of FACTS.

"Stop crying at them but begin to think about why they are so down the earth.
"Companies" are driven by the market, and the market is driven... by YOU!
Begin to think about all the humans suffering, all the environment spoiled to produce you cheapy cheap stuff you find everywhere in supermarkets."

Again, trying to shoulder the blame on someone else. If it is really THAT bad for the people why are they not closing down the mine and the company that pays for it and importing the sulfur instead? It is THEIR local economy at fault, no body else.

"Just look at the fumes and smoke, this will all eventually reach Los Angles. What then? Where is Al Gore when we need him? This exploitive mining should be stopped, the hole filled in, the fires extinguished, and the workers? --- put them on food stamps. " Do you even know where Indonesia is?

Want to know who is really behind all this? A quick Google search comes up with this video:

Guess what, Al Jazeera. This is just typical propaganda against the US. Show this in some 3rd world country, Blame the "company" and assume it goes back to the USA? Everyone then points fingers. Get a clue folks.

Posted by Anonymous December 13, 10 09:53 AM

Amazing how much beauty is fed by the human sacrifice used in an effort to control it. These pictures are beautiful indeed and I am grateful to see so many people recognizing the plight of the miners .... more in health care and safety than anything. I don't know what the cost of living is in East Java or what $13 really means there. But I do know that this work seems very hazardous ...funny how sulfer was the base of our early medicines and in Iceland all of the water smells of sulfer and the people's skin and hair is flawless and glowing!

Posted by Carolyn Baker December 13, 10 11:17 AM


Posted by Anonymous December 13, 10 11:36 AM

wonderful hot pic, good job

Posted by rudi December 13, 10 09:55 PM


Posted by shafiul azam December 14, 10 12:11 AM

what a beautiful pics!good job i like it :)

Posted by tiarashria December 14, 10 01:03 AM

These people mostly live in the vilages around the crater, and usually the cost of living there are very minimum. With $13 per day, they can feed their family full for a week (not fancy meals of course), unless if they spend it for cigarettes (which is a bigger problem compared to the small daily wages). There, you can buy a plate full of fresh rice, some soy bean cake, salad, and a fried egg at less than $1. For them (I assume mostly have very minimum education or don't have education at all), $13 is not small. It's a luxury. That's why, sadly, the hazardous working environment is something acceptable. Heck, with $13 per day they can even survive living in the capital as long as they maintain frugality.

Posted by Sigit December 14, 10 02:17 AM

very nice pictures

Posted by bicha December 14, 10 07:09 AM

With US$13 you can, on these countries, buy just little meals of rice and fish... Meat is far more expensive since these islands have little space for cattle raising. Probably these families live on basis of rice, cassava, fish, fruits and small portions of what we consider basic food (like cooking-oil, beef, beans, salt, bread, milk, etc).

I mean, they can live... But in very very low condition of existence. With 13 dollars they can barely buy food, left some money to buy cooking gas (or firewood), reform their houses, educate kids, leave the region on search for another options... This means that it's a perpetual circle of poverty that, hardly, can be solved by thenselves.

Posted by Emanueivis December 14, 10 09:03 AM

the pics are cool i like the blue....

Posted by damarion December 14, 10 11:54 AM

Simply Said......Awesome!!

Posted by Jade December 14, 10 01:32 PM

fantastic and imaging picture. I was went there but didnt saw like this pictures.

Posted by ginting suka December 14, 10 07:54 PM

Awesome view I've never felt before!..I was born in a village, 10 kilometers from KAWAH IJEN Bondowoso East Java. I just heard its beauties from my neighbors. Now I must get closer, best thanks to Mr. Olivier Grunewald! your great photos invite me to come home soon....

Posted by kangsofy December 15, 10 08:24 AM

On CSI:Las Vegas a few weeks ago, a body was found in a sulfur spring by kids swimming in it for the skin/health/fun of it. So maybe it's not all bad... j/k.

Glad I have the job I have. Glad I don't have that job. But I bet those people are glad to have a job.

Posted by Jim December 15, 10 03:52 PM

I think the rabid anti-American and anti-capitalist comments are kind of funny in how they expose the hypocrisy and ignorance of the posters.

Absolutely beautiful pictures, and yeah, those are horrid working conditions, but it iswhat it is.

The comment saying they should unionize was interesting. If they did unionize, they'd probably do what unions have done to the USA, and the owners would pack it in and go elsewhere, leaving those who used to had well paying jobs broke and starving.

Posted by Jeff December 15, 10 04:15 PM

great pictures...

Posted by oblongetc December 15, 10 10:58 PM

yeah... thank god they atleast have t gloves n footwear for working in hellish conditions... :(
pics r wonderful to view... but t plight of t workers is overwhelming.. :(

Posted by Venkat December 16, 10 05:52 AM

After 40 years in UK coal-mining I have never seen anything so beautiful or so dangerous. Survival, evolution and development all in one.
My congratulations to the photographer and my utmost respect for the miners.

Posted by Ian Wilson December 16, 10 08:55 AM

Really Wonderful.A feast for the eyes.

Posted by Pratap Misra December 17, 10 03:26 AM

Very nice .........

Posted by Handy Loekito December 17, 10 05:49 AM

Beautiful photos. Interesting comments posted here, also. Makes me think how different we all are. These men work hard - as many people do in many cultures all over the world. It's good that we feel compassion for them as the conditions are very difficult - like those faced by a fireman, a scientist in the field, an archeologist on a site, a fisherman on a commercial trawler...I would like to live a simpler life, to consume less and be happy with what I have, to enjoy an honest day's work and accept it for what it is: a way to sustain life, not the only thing IN life. I would like to spend an evening at the home of one of these men, to see him with his family, laughing and holding his children, and kissing his wife goodnight. I believe he would tell me that "life is good."

Posted by Lydia in Michigan December 17, 10 06:32 AM

This photos are verry strang, I prefere the other album.

Posted by Romane December 17, 10 08:16 AM

This Photos i'ts strang

Posted by nadine December 17, 10 08:18 AM

It's very beautiful.

Posted by Erwan December 17, 10 09:10 AM

Increibles fotos. Felicitaciones al fotógrafo.

Posted by César Altamirano December 17, 10 11:16 AM

De très belles images qui m'ont fait revivre mon voyage. Merci Olivier

Posted by Ghislaine Cothias December 18, 10 11:43 AM

This is worthy of a special National Geographic episode. Well done!

Posted by Salim Kader December 18, 10 12:08 PM

What an amazing place. I was there a few years ago and took a small rubber raft out onto the sulphuric acid lake. I had to paddle back because the acid was burning my legs.

Photo can be found here:

Posted by George Kourounis December 18, 10 02:20 PM

if you want to see these in motion, this is the film for you:
Workingman's Death, by austrian film maker michael glawogger

there are five episodes in this film, about coal miners in ukraine, butchers in nigeria, shipwreckers in pakistan, industrial zones in germany/china, and these sulfur miners (carrying sulfur, talking about bon jovi)

Posted by tom December 19, 10 05:33 AM

if this is hell?

difficult fate of the miners ..

amazing pictures.

Posted by achaj December 19, 10 07:25 AM

# 19

God looks down on the miners .. amazing picture !!

Posted by achaj December 19, 10 07:30 AM

love those blue flames of the sulfure !!

Posted by ace December 20, 10 02:56 PM

Quelle plaisir

Posted by Jean Pierre Haist December 20, 10 04:47 PM


Indonesia punya...

Posted by pucut December 22, 10 07:42 AM

Love the pictures, the colors are stunning... but there is also the other part of the coin. Makes me think again... Thanks for sharing.

Posted by henni van dijk December 23, 10 02:21 AM

Jember, Jawa Timur, Indonesia...beautiful

Posted by Yasin Habibi December 23, 10 09:23 AM

wow........indahnya alam Indonesia.....

Posted by hj.poerwaningsih December 23, 10 09:52 AM


no comments .............

Posted by utkarsh December 25, 10 07:30 AM

It is located on Banyuwangi, a region in East Java province, Indonesia.
It is my hometown.

Banyuwangi has many great resources and is one of the largest regions in Java. If it is considered as a cubical thing, the north and west sides are great forests and plantations, while the east and south sides are the wonderful beaches. And it has a great Mt Ijen. But recent local government is not good. Many bad guys there. The transportation heading to Banyuwangi is rare. The airport program is full of corrupt people.

If the government really serious and concern about transportation and investment (e.g Lombok areas) instead of enriching themselves, maybe that workers have a better life. At least as a porter who carry the luggage of visitor, which is much safe than that sulfur mine thing.

Posted by lareosing December 25, 10 08:04 PM

Amazing pictures! ......

Posted by Edy Irianto December 25, 10 10:34 PM

Amazing pictures! ......

Posted by Edy Irianto December 25, 10 10:39 PM

A horrible life.

Posted by Paul December 26, 10 07:22 PM

No doubt, those photographs are amazingly beautiful.. but not the story of the people who worked there.. the sulfur will burn their lungs.. and it's carcinogenic also, even their teeth are broken..

Posted by Arief December 27, 10 04:14 AM

amazing pictures ..... wowwwwwww

Posted by yulians December 27, 10 08:03 AM

Wow...Luar Biasa!!!!!!.....

Posted by Farid Fandi December 27, 10 09:21 PM

apik banget mas...

Posted by yazied syafaat December 28, 10 05:57 AM

This is only 20 km from my house ... we can enjoy soaking in warm water

Posted by nyo December 28, 10 08:13 AM


Posted by surindergarg December 28, 10 12:41 PM

despite all the problems of humanity ....

I personally, very impressed with the work of Oliver Grunewald.
results are sharp and detailed images even very good in his photography techniques.

hope someday I can capture the natural beauty of this world with good photography skills.

see the results of this picture makes me stunned and speechless. the photography with a clever has capture every process in the belly beauty of this earth and the activities of the workers.

This is one part of the infinite greatness of our creator, thank the Lord for life & beauty of our earth.

Posted by LoVe PEace December 28, 10 09:40 PM

increadible... it's very difficult to get photos at night & dawn.
Salute for the photographer

Posted by Setyo Bagyo December 29, 10 10:53 PM

I like.....

Posted by dione.. December 29, 10 11:37 PM

Awesome pictures. I was wondering the miners' live span? Sulfur is poison

Posted by Anonymous December 30, 10 01:20 AM

these r dreamy

Posted by khatti December 30, 10 03:30 AM

out o' the world!

Posted by Dr Syed Faisal Hasan January 1, 11 09:14 AM

I was reading that the average life span of these miners is typically only about 30 years and on average they make about $5 US per day, which is still more that what they would make working on the coffee plantations. Makes me appreciate a bad day at my job.

Posted by Heather Waite January 3, 11 10:12 AM

Great photos,,

Posted by sudiarsana January 5, 11 05:33 PM

wow its amazing

Posted by bagas January 5, 11 09:24 PM

untuk orang Indonesia yang berkomentar diatas:

apa yang anda puji?
apa yang anda anggap keren?
semua ganbar diatas adalah kisah sedih dan mengerikan dari negeri kita. kita melihat bagaimana orang orang mempertaruhkan jiwanya untuk sedikit uang saja. bagaimana pemerintah kita tidak mempedulikan rakyat kecilnya.

karya fotografi diatas memang indah dan mengagumkan.
tapi saya tidak bisa menahan hati saya untuk menangis.

Posted by nurmalina January 6, 11 12:27 AM

was there a few days back.

Went down to the crater at night, and amazed by the view I saw. I felt myself in dream when I really saw the blue flame dancing in the dark sky with the heavy thick smoke.

But what make me feel really sad are the workers.

They are paid 600RP for 1kg. They need to carry 50-100kg of sulfur, climbing up and down for 2-3 hours. And don't forget the heavy smoke. I stayed in the crater for 1-2 hours, and my throat is badly hurt till now.

They can earn upto 60000RP if they carry 100kg in one run--> which is ard $7! And to earn this their life span could be only 30-40 years. Most of the workers are only 20+, but they look like 40-50 years old.

Life is really so crul sometimes.

Posted by YH January 6, 11 05:38 AM

@ nurmalina... karya fotografi diatas adalah sebuah realitas sosial yang terjadi di masyarakat. Justru dengan adanya foto-foto tersebut semua menjadi tahu aktifitas yang terjadi di kawah Ijen. Saya jamin, banyak orang Indonesia yang belum tahu soal derita saudara kita di kawah Ijen.

Foto tersebut adalah sebuah kerja keras dari fotografer dalam berkarya tanpa mengurangi realitas dan fakta yang terjadi di lapangan. Hal in yang patut mendapatkan pujian. Saya belum melihat karya fotografi surealis macam ini yang dibuat fotografer Indonesia khususnya yang berlokasi d kawah ijen. foto2 ini sangat mestinya menginspirasi fotografer2 di Indonesia termasuk saya...

Posted by yuda serengeti January 6, 11 07:40 AM

Impressive and beautiful and also hard to believe.

Posted by Hans Harrebomee January 6, 11 04:38 PM

該找個機會能親眼去看如此美景!其實"IJEN" 離我們家也不會太遠,只有一個多小時的飛行時間!

Posted by HENDRO Dharmawan January 8, 11 06:15 AM

It's unbelievable.really too good pictures.
thanks a lot for sharing with me.

Posted by priyanka January 10, 11 11:09 AM

beautiful fotos thanks 4r sharing

Posted by yeshok dangol January 11, 11 12:31 AM

nice foto's i luv it

Posted by yeshok dangol January 11, 11 12:42 AM

ET APRES ! ! !

Après avoir vu ces photos et appris
que les malheureux mineurs avaient
comme salaire: 13 dollars, comment
moi et les milliers de personnes qui
auront vu ce reportage, agiront pour
que ces pratiques scandaleuses cessent.
Où et quant les défilés pour le respect des
droits de l'HOMME ?

Posted by heymann January 11, 11 05:28 PM

yapilo lasteri kothmut?? Krasnoiarsk eletcdi oichel!!!

Posted by haver January 11, 11 07:01 PM


Posted by AYU January 12, 11 10:06 PM

Very very interesting

Posted by Giannis Katsikis - geologist January 13, 11 03:23 AM

Wow!!!..... Keren, beautiful Polll!!

Posted by yugi January 13, 11 07:28 AM

I work in the Mining Industry as well. I can relate to the harsh conditions as i work far North(Canada,NWT) where it is -85 with wind chill and we mine diamonds here. I can also understand the life of a miner is a awsome life and wouldn't trade it for anything else. The best people in my eyes in the world are miners and we are a tight knit group and always look out for one another no matter what. Think of it this way, with out miners we wouldn't have alot of the things we have today that we take for granted. God bless the miners and always do your best to be safe and watch for your partners in the industry as we all have famiies to support and give them the best life we know how to give.

Posted by Dennis Skolny January 20, 11 07:29 PM

trop bien ces effets de couleurs!

Posted by sproudaf January 24, 11 02:27 PM

We think we are puluted by car fumes, but what conditions to work in,
I suppose someone has to do these things.
Very brave men knowing they risk there lives.


Posted by Anonymous January 30, 11 04:49 AM

As a volcanologist I´d like to thank Mr Olivier Grunewald to open to the world the possibility to watch through his pictures something unreachable for the rest.

Posted by Elizabeth Ivonne Rovere February 5, 11 10:21 AM

I go with the comment no. 206. I think Mr.Olivier Grunewald did a great
job and made it possible for the rest of us to enjoy the beautiful pictures.

Posted by Bea Stitz February 20, 11 02:03 AM

foto-foto yang sangat bagus sekaligus menyedihkan....
penduduk miskin berjuang sepenuh hati untuk memenuhi kebutuhan dasar yang tidak pernah mereka nikmati.
negeri kaya yang hancur karena ulah para mafia, menyisakan tikus mati dilumbung padi

Posted by Anonymous February 20, 11 11:24 AM

For those of you who think its pathetic working conditions and the earnings are too less for such work, try to imagine the alternative - starvation! think about it

Posted by George March 10, 11 05:20 AM

Interesting that some folks assume that the mine is a completely man made feature that should be filled in. It is a volcano, a completely natural feature. Filling it in would cause many more environmental problems that it would solve, even if it could be accomplished.

Posted by D W V March 10, 11 10:07 AM


Posted by Dhani Amannatur March 15, 11 12:22 AM

I love this pics, awesome photographs!

Posted by Edy Irianto March 15, 11 11:41 AM

An almost unbelievable reality. F

Posted by F.C, Walker March 24, 11 02:52 PM

True story.
Should be able to open our hearts and our minds all that:
First: it displays the work of a very, very beautiful photo. Really beautiful. Impossible to do if not by a reliable photographer.
Second: it illustrates that God has provided a wide range of needs for human life.
Third: it describes the true story of ups and downs of life of the miners.

Posted by Bambang Soepriadi March 30, 11 10:21 AM

Amazing pictures,
Heel hard en zwaar werk voor loon van $ 13,00 per dag voor deze arbeiders.

Posted by K/Budiarti April 1, 11 11:38 AM

Come visit Indonesia !!

Posted by Choipan April 8, 11 02:07 PM

WOW that was awesome

Posted by jenny beninger April 9, 11 07:33 PM

Ben al 2 keren geweest en zal dit jaar (september) voor de 3de keer gaan.
Prachtig, hoe mooi natuur kan zijn. Echter bedroevend en triest hoe hard deze mannen voor weinig geld moeten werken om te overleven.

Posted by B.H.Liem April 12, 11 05:57 AM

nice story..

Posted by syafiudin May 4, 11 12:46 AM
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