"Portal to Asgard(?)" by Sean R. Heavey (attribution corrected from earlier post).

(Updated comments)

From Yarko Tymciurak:
This one shot from the group a National Geographic Photography Contest winner (if you download the image, notice the copyright notice which appears on it: Sean Heavey):
http://www.nationalgeographic.com/wallpaper/ngm/photo-contest/2010/entries/wallpaper/week-4/ngpc-wp-wk-4-5/

From Don Denesiuk:
Yes. Props for the above photo go to +Sean R. Heavey an under appreciated (IMHO) photographer here on Google Plus. And as mentioned above it was a 2010 National Geographic magazine photo contest winner. http://ngm.nationalgeographic.com/ngm/photo-contest/2010/entries/gallery/nature-winners/#/6867

From Sean R. Heavey:
For the record +Don Denesiuk. It's a stitched pano of four images... Then toned mapped. No HDR and no photoshop. Color adjustments in Aperture...
+Merritt Cooke. For the record it's very real... I wish I was that good at photoshop. It's a stitched pano of four images. Not an HDR... Toned mapped and then color balanced in Aperture.
+Thomas Jones. How do you know it is a composite of a bunch of photos taken on the same day? We're you there?

Thanks for everyone's contribution and patience as we sorted through (1) where credit was really due (Bravo, Maestro Heavey!!!) and (2) what really was behind the image from a technical standpoint.

The response to this post speaks for itself. One of the most extraordinary images many of us have ever seen rendered photographically.

Sean, is there some way that we can lend our networks to help you get broader credit/recognition for this 'gift' you have shared with us all?

With appreciation (singly and collectively),

Terry

(Original comment)
In a comment to Mott Kornicki's post of this photo, Seth Rosen addressed the eternal "Does She or Doesn't She (PhotoShop)?" question. His comment is technically enlightening: "Someone asked if it was a "real" picture. If it's not then it's one hell of a particle physics computer render. We are talking isotropic lighting effects, smoke simulation, particle defusion. I'm thinking it's real." I think Seth would agree with me that, with a photo such as this, the question is almost beside the point. Whether 'captured' or imagined, nature's power is awe-inspiring. This picture does the power justice.
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