Saint John, New Brunswick 1999
Burtynsky is an Ansel Adams for 21st-century environmentalism. Like Adams, he produces stunning, large-format photographs that are beautiful and can induce a sense of vertigo from their epic scale. While Adams was closely associated with 20th-century environmental groups like the Wilderness Society and Sierra Club, and was a strong advocate for preserving an idea of "pristine" nature, Burtynsky makes the human use of nature - in places like mines, Chinese factories, and landfills - his primary subject. Burtynsky is also aligned with the vanguard of 21st-century environmentalism, WorldChanging.com (check out this video he made for them).
Unfortunately, I'm afraid the internet can't do fair justice to these photographs. Luckily for those of us who live in Maine, an exhibition of Burtynsky's photographs will run at Bowdoin College in Brunswick from October 23rd to Christmas, in conjunction with a number of lectures and screenings of Jennifer Baichwal’s documentary of Burtynsky. Here's the schedule of events.