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Paramedic uses power of photography to conquer the darkness

'This image is a reminder to me that no matter what you are going through, the challenges or the troubles, that the darkness will end,' says local paramedic

The Steel Spirit is a gallery of art submissions and stories from members of the military, first responders and hospital practitioners (serving or retired). Due to the pandemic, the Steel Spirit has transitioned to a digital space so that artists can continue to share their works and stories with the community. Each month, we will feature a profile on one of the artists. Today, we turn the spotlight on Mark Hildebrandt.

Mark Hildebrandt is an advanced care paramedic who has worked all across southern Ontario and British Columbia.

With almost 20 years of service, he has encountered many of the most difficult calls that first responders face. To cope with the stress that is accumulated as a paramedic, Hildebrandt has turned to photography.

He has focused on wildlife and natural landscapes to centre himself, to reconnect with nature, reduce stress, and to get out and exercise. Hildebrandt is a health and safety advocate in his paramedic service and has travelled to Ottawa to sit in the House of Commons and the Senate chambers to support federal legislation to create a national strategy for PTSD treatment for all first responders and the military. 

Hildebrandt's 'The Diamond Ring' exemplifies The Steel Spirit. 

At the end of a full solar eclipse, there is a brief period where the sun’s light is becoming visible, and the corona is also visible. Scientists have called this phenomenon the Diamond Ring effect.

When Hildebrandt drove to Tennessee in 2017 to see the full eclipse, he wanted to photograph it, but he really wanted to experience it more than anything else.

The lead-up to the full eclipse is truly magical and awe inspiring, Hildebrandt explained, adding "the wind stops blowing. The birds and the bugs stop making noises.

"When totality finally occurs, it is almost instantaneous. You go from full sun, to darker than dusk in a few seconds. For this eclipse, the darkness only lasted for two minutes. Then just as quickly as it began, it ends," he explained.

"This image is a reminder to me that no matter what you are going through, the challenges or the troubles, that the darkness will end," said Hildebrandt.

The Steel Spirit is always looking for new and emerging artists with and without experience, from every background and every age. For more information or if you would like to be involved, please visit: