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HARLES MASON sprang from his tiny darkroom when he heard the news that three giant whales were trapped beneath an 18 mile-wide sheet of Alaskan ridge ice. He knew the story would break big, but never expected it would also be his big break.

MASON SCRAPED together the last of his savings and booked a flight to where the whales were. On his way out the door, the phone rang. It was Black Star looking for whale photos.
  "I TOLD THEM that I needed help on the expenses," recalls Mason,"If I got help, I'd be glad to supply the photos." What came through the receiver blew his mind: "Charles, your ticket is covered."

WITH THAT, MASON was off to document the rescue, still dubious that it was all too good to be true. His fears ended when an issue of TIME hit the stands with his photo on the cover. "A real head trip for a guy from a small paper who was worried about the ticket price just days earlier."
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