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Blue Heaven

Jim Rankin, Staff Reporter

It was the first day that some of Toronto’s outdoor pools would re-open following the municipal strike that stole summer, and Star photog Richard Lautens was working the photo assignment desk that day. 

He assigned the job – one that he’d been thinking of himself – to me and suggested taking along our aquarium. It’s one of a number of gadgets and tools we have stored in the lens lockup in our studio at One Yonge. 

Other fun stuff in there includes tilt-shift lenses, bulletproof vests and helmets. The aquarium is a standard fish tank, with cardboard fitted on three sides to reduce reflections and glare.

I made hundreds of pictures at the pool that day, nearly all of them “blind” – as in, I could not look through the viewfinder. 

Not knowing what I’d get, I took many, hoping some would work out. The picture you see is the 22nd frame, shot through the partially-submerged aquarium. 

To make the image, I placed my camera in the aquarium with my right thumb on the shutter, and pushed down on the camera using both hands. The lens was pre-focused.



The famous Toronto Star photo aquarium, one of many throughout the years. This is the basic set-up used by Jim Rankin for the Big Picture. Had Jim had a little more lead time he might of used some basic matte black paint to paint the inside of the carboard lining the box. Gaffer tape would have worked as well. A couple sand bags or a weight on the bottom of the tank would also help stabilize and submerge the tank. Just don't totally submerge the tank! -- Steve Russell

And here’s one from the dog days of summer that didn’t make the paper, but a fun one nonetheless:




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