Atomic War In Details by Justin Barton


This is a big story that has not been told very often. The interesting thing is that is has been told through cables, switches, wires, in fact the technical details. There are no people in the photographs, but the traces are there. The sheer amount of photographs is on the one hand boring, but on the other necessary to show the immensity. In other words, if there would be only one photo, there would be nothing…
– Ineke Smits & Thomas Dworzak

'Of course we thought about our counterparts in the West... but they did their jobs and we did ours.'
- Wladimir (ex-USSR Strategic Rocket force combat crew member)

The series is an in-depth exploration of the counterparts of Soviet/CIS and US ICBM nuclear weapons and launch facilities, past and present, through photographic details.

These comparisons also expose the sides ethnologically and the minutiae are symbolic of greater political meaning. The humanized perspective and palpability reveal our complacency in addressing an ongoing - if psychological - war, and are an examination of the understated reality of the veneer that protects us from an apocalypse.

The small stories of the bumps, scratches and patinas of the actual objects used, and in some cases still in use, invite the viewer to imagine the twin lives of the people who work in these environments.

Titan II missiles were active from 1962 with the last flight 2003. AS-4 was active until 2007. The SS-19 and SS-18 missiles remain active.

This year the Doomsday Clock of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is two minutes closer to midnight than the year of the Cuban missile crisis.

Year: 2011
Photographed in: Ukraine and US
Camera used: Wista 8x10 inch & Kodak 160NC

8 Responses to “Atomic War In Details”


  1. lost sequence says:

    Impressive work. There is something about large format and film that will never ever be achieved with any digital camera.

  2. M.S says:

    Simply beautiful!

  3. Sadaf says:

    Absolutely love these! The details and fittings are intriguing forms and shapes. It almost feels like I can touch the textures and the colours are so subtle yet loud – enabling everything to be tangible to the viewer. On an epic topic as this, that’s a bit scary! ‘Rocket fuel pipes’ is my favourite

  4. Diana says:

    I love these pictures. They are unique. Not only do they have an eerie beauty as images-there is a painterly quality that reinforces the sense of absent humanity, and they tell a story that has almost sunk from popular view. They hark back to a now unimaginable time when information was tightly controlled and news funnelled down from governments. They are important socio-historical references as well as unique photos.

  5. Aaron Howdle says:

    Extraordinary work. Powerful and deepky moving.

  6. Aaron Howdle says:

    Deeply moving! *

  7. Yasmeen says:

    Gosh! this is just so beautiful! And all the effort put in to take these incredible pictures. Definitely a favourite of mine. So interesting to see this subject photographed so beautifully. A winner in my books!

  8. Max Krook says:

    I have followed Justin’s development within photography for over ten years. He has got a fantastic way of identifying objects that ooze of beauty or storytelling.

    I think this series of photographs really sums it up. The reality behind it all, wonderfully narrated frame by frame.

    Justin has always been keen on new challenges which has made him the diverse photographer he is today, capturing real life ‘environments’ across the planet.

    Thanks Justin, once more.

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