Saturday, January 31, 2009


In the summer of 1970, while working in Ontario as a geology student for the summer, I purchased my first 35 mm camera, a Miranda Sensorex. This morning's photos were among the first photos I made with that camera.
The explosion was on the first roll of slides I took. We were looking for minerals and had to get rid of the soil in order to check the bedrock. I focused on the spot where I thought the explosion would occur and took the photo just as the dynamite was detonated. I was lucky to catch the debris in mid-air, especially since I didn't have a clue what I was doing.

The second image was taken in Red Lake. While waiting for our flight into the bush of Northern Ontario, I photographed a few of the float planes that were flying in and out of the area. I composed the photo with the two docks and waited for the plane to come into the scene. It was just leaving the water as I took the photo. In the "old days" we had to manually advance the film, so that was the only image I captured of this scene.

I have made hundreds of thousands of images since those early days of my photographic journey I used to tell my photography students that photos are "memories captured"; that when I look at a photo it opens a flood of memories that transport me back to the time I made the image. For example, what you can't see in the first image is the loud noise and shaking ground caused by the blast. In the second, you can't really feel the heat of the day or the black flies that were buzzing all around. You see only what I captured when I decided to press the shutter release at what famous photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson called the "decisive moment" - a topic for a future Photo of the Day.

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