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HomeContentsCommentaries > Colin Westerbeck: Photo Synthesis

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Tim HawkinsonOctopus
Cindy ShermanUntitled Film Still #82
Robert Glenn KetchumLakeshore in Morning Fog
Abelardo MorellCamera Obscura Image of the Grand Tetons in Resort Room, Jackson Hole, Wyoming
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Juggler, Sergey Gripkov, Los Angeles, February 21, 2000
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U.S. Air Force 1352nd Photographic Group, Lookout Mountain StationSugar, 1.2 Kilotons, Nevada
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Stan HondaFrom the Heart Mountain Barracks Project
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Larry SultanBoxers, Mission Hills
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Richard LongDonner Pass Circle: Along a 20 Day Walk from Ebbetts Pass to the North Fork Feather River Sierra Nevada California 2005
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Joel SternfeldQueen of the Prom, the Range Nightclub, Slab City, California
   
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U.S. Air Force 1352nd Photographic Group, Lookout Mountain Station 
Sugar, 1.2 Kilotons, Nevada 
1951, 19 November 9 a.m. 
  
Courtesy Michael Light 
  
 
LL/16167 
  
Photo Synthesis
Colin Westerbeck
 
Sugar was the code name for one of the first atomic bomb blasts conducted at the Nevada Proving Ground about 65 miles from Las Vegas. The 1.2-kiloton yield produced by nuclear fission on this occasion was relatively low-level, at least in comparison with the hydrogen bombs employing nuclear fusion that would be exploded later at Enewetak and other Pacific Islands. Setting off this bomb only a few feet above ground level did have some dramatic results, however. One was to lift 50,000 cubic feet of vaporized, irradiated soil 11,000 feet into the atmosphere.
 
I know all this because San-Francisco-based photographer Michael Light tracked down every government photograph of the nuclear-test program he could find in the public domain and published a selection of them in a 2003 book titled "100 SUNS." The 1352nd Photographic Group that made most of the images was stationed in Hollywood, in order to keep up with developments in picture-taking technology.
 
Light's own recent photographs show how powerfully the documentation he uncovered has affected him. His series Some Dry Space is of the Western desert shot from a low-flying plane. It's what you might call a bomb's-eye view of the sort of terrain where the nuclear detonations took place.
 
[Originally published in West Magazine : August 27, 2006 p.9] 
 
 
  
 
  
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