Mount St. Helens: New Life, 30 Years Later : The Picture Show On the anniversary of the volcano's eruption, photographers Len Jenshel and Diane Cook show new life that has grown from destruction.
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Mount St. Helens: New Life, 30 Years Later

Diane Cook and Len Jenshel have made an appearance on the Picture Show before. They are two of today's most pre-eminent landscape photographers, working in black and white and color respectively -- both using medium-format film. And this month their work has made another appearance in National Geographic magazine. Today marks the 30th anniversary of the eruption of Mount St. Helens; their photographs show the new life that sprang from destruction.

Cook and Jenshel actually met in 1979, a year before the volcano exploded, and have been working together ever since. For the most part, they have focused their lenses on the environmental landscape and the ways in which man interacts with it. This story, though, is less about human influence and more about what happens to a place when it's left alone.

The destroyed site around Mount St. Helens was declared a monument and virtually closed to the public for the past three decades. And some interesting ecological developments came of it: Life not only returned but also exploded, new forms of flora and fauna flourished, and rainbow trout somehow returned to waters -- and grew in size.

It's been a private playground for scientific research, although today there is debate about opening the region as a national park. Regardless of what's in store for the region's future, its post-eruption story is full of ecological anomaly. Cook and Jenshel's photos preserve this brief moment in the history of an ancient and ever-changing landscape.