At sunup he moved to the backyard to photograph the volcanic explosion. “New Dawn,” one of Mr. Turner’s phantasmagorical pictures, portrays lava in shades of yellow, orange and red, spraying in a fluid arc as if an unseen hand were directing it leftward over the volcano. By underexposing his shots, he made the colors become more saturated.
“It was like being in the center of a science fiction movie,” he said on his website.
Donald Peter Turner was born in Albany on May 30, 1934. His father, Donald, was the leader of a 23-piece touring band that was based for a while in Montreal. His mother, the former Ruth Murray, was a homemaker. Fascinated by photography from a young age, he was developing color pictures by age 14.
“I love black and white photography, but somehow I got seduced by color,” he told Photo District News in 2000. “I remember going to the art supply store as a kid and looking at watercolor paint boxes and thinking, ‘These are beautiful.’ ”
After graduating from the Rochester Institute of Technology, where Mr. Uelsmann was among his classmates, Mr. Turner was drafted into the Army. He served primarily at a combat photographic center in Astoria, Queens, where he ran the photo lab and experimented with a new type of color printing. He was occasionally sent by the Army on assignments, like photographing rockets in Florida; he also found subjects to photograph in Manhattan on weekends.
After his discharge, he joined the Freelance Photographers Guild and went on a monthslong assignment for the Airstream trailer company, following a caravan of 43 vehicles traveling from South Africa to Egypt. The sojourn whetted his appetite for more work in Africa and gave him a vivid portfolio that helped him secure assignments from Esquire, Look, Sports Illustrated and Holiday magazines, as well as from advertisers and Hollywood films — he was on set for “Cleopatra” (1963) and “The Night of the…