Friday, July 10, 2009

Rock Photography Part I: Where I Started

Me at Piton de la Fournaise, Reunion Island in 1998.
Camera: Minolta X-700
Film: ENC-II

I began my photographic journey because I needed to be able to document geological field studies, as a student, and later as a professional geologist.

Towards the end of my first semester in college, our geology professor (Dr. Pope) told us that we needed to become decent photographers so that we could document our work. So we should get a 35mm camera and start working on it, since we would need to be proficient by our junior year for field camp. By the time this message was transmitted to my Mom, I told her that we were required to have a 35mm camera by the start of school in January.

By chance, Minolta was coming out with their first automated and programmable camera, the XD-11. So, all of the manual SRT-series were drastically reduced in price that Christmas. And the manual SRT-SCII became my first camera. I’d still have that camera today if it had not been stolen from me in Dallas in 1986. A friend of mine was in a small plane crash with a similar model. It flew out of his hands and was embedded in the wing of the plane. The lens was broken, but the camera still worked!

Now, rocks are not easy to photograph. Sure, they don’t move, but when you are there in the field, you have to take the shot, regardless of the lighting conditions or weather. The style needs to be clear and documentary in nature; artsy works, but only if the geology is not obscured. The important thing is to show the geological feature of interest, so most of my geo-pics are great for me, and possible use in a textbook, but not of general interest.

All remaining images are from my first real geological expedition to Mt St Augustine, a volcano in Cook Inlet, Alaska. These are typical of geological field documentary style.

Camera: Minolta SRT-SCII
Lens: Rokkor f2.8 50mm normal lens
Film: ENC-II

These slides were taken in 1983, and are as clear today as ever. So much for the complaint that ENC-II film doesn't last!

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