Coal Mining Photographed with a 100-Megapixel Camera

After reading about how mining-related injuries and deaths are systematically covered up by many authorities, Swedish photographer Sebastian Sardi began a project in 2008 called Black Diamond that focuses on miners and mines.

The photographer, who splits his time between Denmark and Sweden, has spent the past several years photographing the burning coalfields of Jharkhand in East India, first with a film camera and subsequently with a 100-megapixel Phase One XF 100MP camera.

“I don’t think anyone has ever taken a 100 MP camera out from the studio and down to dirty mines such as these,” Sardi tells PetaPixel. “The mines are apocalyptic, the people are hardworking, and the landscape is completely destroyed.”

Here is Sardi’s project statement:

It is an apocalyptic landscape. There are huge man-made craters everywhere that make up the visible landscape, the ground is burning, and a vast area is oozing with toxic gases, fire, and smoke. Amongst all of this, there are people digging in the soil with their bare hands. Coal is mined everywhere in Jharkhand, India, and large parts of it are sorted by hand.

The locals call it; ”Black Diamond”.
Energy produced by the burning of coal is the single biggest contributor to the man-generated carbon dioxide emissions. Coal is a major part in the issue of global warming. Many people have been forced away from these areas when companies and authorities recognized the richness that hides in the ground. Underground fires force people to relocate.

The mining companies claim they are unable to put out the fires, while the locals blame the companies for letting the fires burn so the coal can be reached and excavated from underneath their villages.

There is a fragile balance between nature and mankind. A sense of discomfort is felt in the slow but seemingly unavoidable struggle towards the collapse of nature. The human inability to break patterns is painstakingly visible in these photographs, as we knowingly keep on extracting the ground beneath our own feet.

Black Diamond is a close (self-)portrait of the people who work with extracting coal from the ground, as well as an exploration of our dualistic human nature and how oneself relates to the outside world while being a part of it.

Sardi is planning to publish his project as a hardcover photo book with the German publisher Kehrer, and the photographer is currently raising funds through Kickstarter to do so.

Image credits: Photographs by Sebastian Sardi and used with permission