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4/5/2018 — Education, Science and Technology
Homer’s graphic photos on display

An exhibition of images by one of New Zealand’s leading landscape photographers opens at Expressions Gallery in Upper Hutt this weekend.

Photographer Lloyd Homer worked for GNS Science and its predecessor organisations for 32 years from 1965 and built a collection of more than 100,000 images of New Zealand, mostly aerial shots.

The exhibition shows the variety of his work, including landscapes, geological hazards and scientists at work. His photos were also used by mining, petroleum and science publications around the world.

Throughout his career, Homer was often one of the first on the scene to meticulously record geological events such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods and landslides. As a result, he became known as ‘disaster man.’

His specialist area was aerial photography. Many geological features such as faults and landslides can be seen more clearly from the air, and aerial photographs can have a wide range of scientific uses.

Most of Homer’s aerial photography was done securely strapped in to a high-winged Cessna 207 with the back door removed. It was so cold that he dressed for Mount Everest-like conditions, and often he could do little more than point the camera and press the shutter.

The best conditions for aerial photography were often immediately after a southerly storm had blown through, making the atmosphere crisp and clear. By slowly circling, the plane could climb to over 20,000 feet with the pilot and photographer wearing oxygen masks.

Homer’s work falls into four broad categories – high altitude aerial photography, lower altitude oblique aerial photography, ground-level landscapes, and scientists in the field.

Long-time colleague, geologist and exhibition instigator, Simon Nathan, said he spent about three months combing through Homer’s huge collection to select 30 representative photos for display at the exhibition.

“The images cover a wide geographical spread as well as a broad range of landforms and earth science themes. There are some lesser known parts of New Zealand as well as some of Lloyd’s trademark work such as the 1995-96 Mt Ruapehu eruptions,” Dr Nathan said.

“Lloyd’s landscape images are one of a kind. Over three decades he amassed an extraordinary collection of photos and many of them have historical significance.”

All of Homer’s photography was done on film with his much-loved Hasselblad and Leica cameras. By today’s standards they were extremely bulky and heavy. Lugging heavy gear on foot in remote parts of New Zealand was all part of the adventure for Homer.

His precious negatives have been carefully catalogued and stored. In recent years, GNS Science has made high resolution digital scans from the negatives.

Today most low-level aerial photography is done by drones, and higher-altitude imagery can be taken from satellites. In spite of these advances, Lloyd Homer’s photography has a distinctive quality than cannot be duplicated. There is still a strong demand for his images for applications ranging from

The exhibition runs at Exhibitions Gallery from Saturday to July 1.

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One of Lloyd Hamer’s spectacular photos of major geological events included this eruption of Mount Ruapehu in 1966. In one shoot, the aircraft he was flying in had, as a result of an eruption, a bad landing and he suffered an injury, but was back on deck soon after.