Robert Landsburg's Brave Final Shots


In our world, there are few people who are most devoted to their profession, who would put their work above life. Despite the fact that people regularly attend management seminars and refresher training, they are often still negligent in their work, but there are exceptions. Such an exception was American photographer Robert Landsburg, who photographed the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980.

The eruption of Mount St. Helens which began on March 27, 1980 was the event of a lifetime. That was when Robert Landsburg, a 48-year-old American photographer from Portland, Oregon, decided to document it with his camera.

Photo by National Geographic, January 1981

During April and early May, he made a dozens of trips to the vicinity of the Mount St. Helens, hiking and climbing to various vantage points. The morning of May 18 found him near the volcano’s peak, seeking “just one more” eruption sequence to round out his coverage.

Eruption of Mount St. Helens

When the mountain exploded, he already had his camera on a tripod, aimed and cocked. As the all-engulfing cloud of ash climbed the sky toward him, four miles from the summit, he desperately cranked frames by frames across his lens, then rewound the film into its cassette inside the camera, wrenched the camera from its tripod, and stowed it in his backpack. His wallet was in the backpack too — perhaps to assure future identification.

Seventeen days later, his body was found in the ash, together with the film that cost him his life. It contained not only telling images of the killing edge of the blast but also the scratches, bubbles, warping, and light leaks caused by heat and ash, the very thumbprint of the holocaust.

The film could be developed and has provided geologists with valuable documentation of the historic eruption.

In these photos you can see how the ash cloud approaching to the photographer

The consequences of the eruption of Mount St. Helens:

Photos and text for this article were sourced from Wikipedia, Хочу знать and the National Geographic Archive.

written by chourique on 2013-04-29 #people #lifestyle #history #volcano #lomography #analogue-lifestyle #robert-landsburg #mount-st-helens #volcanic-eruption #final-photographs
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  1. bsdunek
    bsdunek ·

    I didn't know about Robert Landsburg. He couldn't have known that the mountain would explode like it did. May he RIP.
    I still have a small plastic envelope of ash from the explosion a friend gave me. This makes it a lot more interesting.

  2. stratski
    stratski ·

    It's an intersting story, but risking your life for a photo of a volcano... I don't know. There's plenty of brave photojournalists who have died to tell the world of forgotten conflicts and other injustice. But to die for some pictures of an ash cloud? What a waste of a precious life.

  3. halphillips
    halphillips ·

    I remember the day well. I had known Robert Landsburg for many years from the U-Develop photolab in Portland. I had planned to go with him that day however for some reason I couldn't go. I am frequently haunted by the memory.

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