Mt. St. Helens, Washington
At 8:32 Sunday morning, May 18, 1980, Mount St. Helens erupted and blew down or scorched 230 square miles of forest.
I was there just days earlier, photographing for a story on The Gifford Pinchot National Forest which is is one of the oldest National Forests in the United States. The forest was aside by Teddy Roosevelt as a National Forest. The fact that the mountain was erupting was a bonus. The little Cessna you see here is the plane I flew in for 2 days. I was a very young photographer working with photographer Farrell Grehan. I was in the back seat, which was very tight, but the pilot had taken staying bars off the window so once we were up and the pilot said okay, I could open the window and shoot directly out and not through Plexiglas. The wind pressure kept the window up.
First day up was over cast, didn't see much. Second day was the day. Blue sky and crystal clear. The goal was to fly around and over the crater. They only allowed 1-2 planes at a time to fly around. The pilot was great very experienced taking photographers around. It was good I have a steady stomach, we did plenty of flying on our side so we could look and shoot straight down. Was a total rush with the window open and looking on a volcanic crater. Yet I hate ladders. There is something special that kicks in when you have a camera in your hand. So check out my pics. So all the shots of the crater we were flying about 1 mile straight over the crater, no long lens needed, we were really close. The smell of sulfur is what I remember most, we had to leave at a point as pieces of the mountain was flying at us. So it was time to go the pilots said. That's when I took the shots looking back. And that what was used in the piece.
This was all slide film, K64. I have not played with color correction or cleaning up anything. They are straight shots. They are a little blue mainly because of shooting so high up. The scans were done several years ago, for now I will just keep them as is.
I was sent back in 1981 to cover how it all looked then, a few months later. As you can see it was pure destruction. It was very emotional to see it all blown away. Trees looked like tooth picks. And everything was just gray.
Then I went back for the 25th Anniversary in 2005, it blew me away. Will add those as well, soon.
All images copyright 2015. Rachel Cobb, not for use in any media with out permission. See Contact page.
See 25 Years later