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The Geyser’s Admired and Dependable—Much Like the Archivist

With a photo of Old Faithful, we mark the retirement of our In the Loupe feature, and of longtime photo archivist Bill Bonner.

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This story appears in the December 2016 issue of National Geographic magazine.

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The star of this 1919 photo—the ideal image to cap our coverage of the National Park Service’s centennial year—is Old Faithful. The geyser in Yellowstone National Park mesmerizes us today as it did these women nearly a century ago. While the pair appear to be viewing one of America’s best known landmarks at a precariously close range, they did remember to shield themselves from the sun—or perhaps a scalding mineral spray—with their elegant parasols.

From the Editors

Bill Bonner has brought a gift for unearthing just the right photo to In the Loupe and to countless other projects. During more than 33 years as the archivist of National Geographic’s vintage collection, Bonner—wearing his trademark white cotton gloves—lovingly tended a collection containing some eight million photographs.

This year he began his well-earned retirement. So after this issue we’re retiring In the Loupe as well.

Bonner always kept a loupe on hand to hunt for details hidden from the naked eye, says senior photo editor Jessie Wender: “There are few people who look at the past with such care.”

In a 2014 documentary video about his distinguished career, Bonner describes photographs as “shadows of history that you can actually see … of people like us, just doing our thing, just living our life.” As he moves on to do exactly that, we wish him well.



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