“Most elementary geological truths are best discovered and explored where geology is—in the field—while looking at the evidence…. We take a step toward this ideal by using photographs of localities that might be visited and, so far as practicable, treating these scenes as prime sources of information.” –John Shelton

Last summer I saw an incredible retrospective of aerial photographer (and La Jolla native) John Shelton’s work at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Besides this exhibit, it is very hard to find any other information on him. He took photographs for textbooks (he wrote the indispensible tome ‘Geology Illustrated’), but his work is uncommonly evocative for school textbooks, I think.  His work reminds me of Canadian photographer Eamon Mac Mahon, who has also shot for reporting/documentation purposes.

“Unlike most aerial photographers, Shelton flew mostly alone and never had the luxury of using a viewfinder. He maneuvered his low-winged airplane to align his large-format camera through a small, open window to optimize the angle, lighting, and composition of each geologic feature. Originally, his exposures were made with a handheld light meter, but eventually he determined his camera settings from experience.”

Shelton’s work:

“Since 2004, Toronto-based photographer Eamon Mac Mahon has spent up to three months of each year working in the wilderness of northwestern Canada and Alaska.  These slow journeys via bush plane have allowed him to intimately photograph remote landlocked communities, and the vast areas of uninhabited land surrounding them.” [Via Bau Xi]

Mac Mahon’s work:


2 responses to “STUDENT OF THE EARTH

  1. Love your blog, Natasha!!
    Great post.

  2. thanks! the feelings are so mutual.

    i was totally blown away when i found out that john shelton was from my hometown… and la jolla no less. he is a lost treasure!

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