This photograph by Steve Babbitt, professor of photography at Black Hills State University, was recently featured in Discover magazine.

A photograph by Steve Babbitt, professor of photography at Black Hills State University, was recently featured in Discover magazine.

The photograph, published in a two-page spread on pages eight and nine of the April 2011 issue of Discover, was taken in the Davis Cavern of the Sanford Lab. In the last two years, Babbitt has been working closely with Bill Harlan, communications director at Sanford Lab, to create high-quality photography and video documenting the re-opening of the lab.

Babbitt’s photograph was chosen for the Data Section of the magazine which features photographs that tell a compelling scientific story. Discover Magazine, Science, Technology, and the Future, is a national magazine published in New York that has a circulation of 700,000 readers.

The photograph in Discover magazine is one of many that Babbitt has taken in the former gold mine. Babbitt’s photographs are also used in newsletters, formal presentations, proposals and reports and are also made available for scientists, engineers and the media.
Babbitt says the absence of light, condensation, and temperature changes in the lab creates challenges in successfully photographing the underground laboratory. He has used a number of strategies to overcome these challenges and continues to photograph the entire lab.

“The lab is an unusual spectacular environment, a place like no other,” Harlan says. “These photographs are a wonderful representation of how we are meeting the technological challenges and revealing that underground environment to the rest of the world.” Harlan expressed his admiration for the high quality images that Babbitt has provided and noted they are working on several collaborative projects including future exhibitions of the images and also mentioned the possibility of compiling the images into a book.

The cutline in Discover magazine describes the setting as follows: “Scientists and engineers inspect a cavern nearly a mile beneath the surface at the Sanford Underground Laboratory at Homestake in Lead, South Dakota.”

The photograph cutline notes that Homestake once hosted the largest gold deposit in the Western Hemisphere and was the deepest mine in the United States. The Davis Cavern, which is shown in Babbitt’s photograph, housed a Nobel Prize-winning neutrino experiment and was recently expanded to prepare for the installation of the Large Underground Xenon Detector which will search for dark matter particles.

Babbitt began teaching mass communication and photography courses at BHSU in 1994. He holds a master’s of fine arts degree in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute. He works with digital, silver and non-silver photographic processes in black and white and color. His photographs can be found in the collections of The Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, France; The Getty Museum Library, Malibu, Calif.; the Sioux Falls Civic Fine Arts Center, Sioux Falls; The Dahl Fine Art Center, Rapid City; and the San Francisco Art Institute.