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The Picture | The Story

Bruce Barnbaum: Cicurlar Chimney, Antelope Canyon, 1980


Circular Chimney, Antelope Canyon, 1980, 28 x 22 Inches, Silver Gelatin Photograph

Circular Chimney, Antelope Canyon, 1980

28 x 22 Inches, Silver Gelatin Photograph

Walking into Antelope Canyon was like walking into an electro-magnetic force field, bringing me back to my years studying mathematics and physics to a Masters’ degree at UCLA, intent on becoming a theoretical nuclear physicist. 

I had never seen photographs of a place like this. I had often heard “everything has been photographed." This hadn't been. It was mine to open. This initial photograph became my favorite even before I exposed the negative. It remains my favorite today…and always will be, due to both its overwhelming emotional impact and the recognition that I was opening a new realm of photography. Many additional "slit canyon" photographs followed.

It is abstract, telling the viewer nothing of the canyon. It alludes to forces: the black hole at the Milky Way's center, with stars swirling around it; the atom's nucleus, with electrons swirling about it. After years of "realistic" landscape photography, this opened a doorway into abstraction. Today I live in both realms, and more.

  • Bruce Barnbaum, 2018