kottke.org posts about photography
Sad news from the NY Times: legendary street fashion photographer Bill Cunningham has died today at the age of 87.
In his nearly 40 years working for The Times, Mr. Cunningham operated both as a dedicated chronicler of fashion and as an unlikely cultural anthropologist, one who used the changing dress habits of the people he photographed to chart the broader shift away from formality and toward something more diffuse and individualistic.
At the Pierre hotel on the East Side of Manhattan, he pointed his camera at tweed-wearing blue-blood New Yorkers with names like Rockefeller and Vanderbilt. Downtown, by the piers, he clicked away at crop-top wearing Voguers. Up in Harlem, he jumped off his bicycle -- he rode more than 30 over the years, replacing one after another as they were wrecked or stolen -- for B-boys in low-slung jeans.
I saw Cunningham out on the streets of NYC twice and both times chills ran up my back watching a master at work. Unless Cunningham had something in the can before he died, it looks as though the last of his On the Street features is about black and white fashion. Tonight might be a good time to watch the documentary Bill Cunningham New York -- it's available on Amazon (free with Prime).
Thomas Leuthard takes us around Salzburg and demonstrates a number of tricks you can employ to take photos on the street. Tricks sounds too gimmicky...think of these as potential approaches to being creative with a camera. Watching this made me want to start taking photos again. Before I had kids, I carried a camera pretty much everywhere.1 I still do (in the form of an iPhone 6s) but I'm not hunting for photos in the same way.
Photographer Bill Yates spent months documenting the happenings at the Sweetheart Roller Skating Rink in Florida in the early 1970s. After a successful Kickstarter campaign, Yates is publishing a book of the photos.
In 1942, the US government hired Dorothea Lange (of Migrant Mother fame) to take photos of the removal and imprisonment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Although Lange quit after a few months because government censors wouldn't let her shoot images of barbed wire and the bayonets on guards' guns, she took hundreds of photos documenting this shameful moment in American history.
Famous for her forlorn images of Dust Bowl America, this pioneering female photographer was hired by the War Relocation Authority in 1942 to document the removal and imprisonment of Japanese Americans. Although her skill at candid portraiture was unparalleled, "Lange was an odd choice, given her leftist politics and strong sympathy for victims of racial discrimination," writes scholar Megan Asaka. The position was a challenging one for Lange as well. "Appalled by the forced exile, she confided to a Quaker protestor that she was guilt stricken to be working for a federal government that could treat its citizens so unjustly."
The WRA initially gave Lange little instruction about where and what to shoot, but controlled and censored her while she was at work. When documenting life inside the assembly centers and concentration camps, she was prohibited from taking shots of barbed wire and bayonets. Unable to tolerate this censorship and her own conflicted feelings about the work, Lange quit after just a few months of employment with the WRA.
Less ashamed at what they'd done and more worried about PR backlash, the government embargoed Lange's photos until 1972.
If this all makes you think of some recent comments about Muslims from a certain Republican presidential candidate, history may not repeat itself, but it sure does rhyme.
Update: Ansel Adams also took dozens of photos of the Japanese American interment camp at Manzanar.
So did photographer Toyo Miyatake, who was among the prisoners at Manzanar.
The exclusion order forced Miyatake, his wife and four children, to the concentration camp at Manzanar. He was able to store his photographic equipment but managed to smuggle a camera lens and film plate holder into the camp against government orders. Miyatake told his son Archie that he felt it was his duty to document camp life. An Issei carpenter in camp constructed a box to house the lens, and Miyatake was able to get film into camp by way of a hardware salesman and former client. The photographer eventually asked camp director Ralph Merritt if he could set up a photo studio, and Merritt, who learned about Miyatake from Edward Weston, consented with the provision that Miyatake only load and set the camera, and a Caucasian assistant snap the shutter. Eventually, that restriction was lifted, and Miyatake was designated official camp photographer, and granted the freedom to take photos of everyday life at Manzanar.
Miyatake and Adams met at the camp and began a collaboration. Lange and Adams were friends -- he printed Migrant Mother for her -- and she was instrumental in convincing Adams to document Manzanar. But she was also critical of his detached approach:
In 1961, Lange said about Adams's taking landscape pictures at the Manzanar Relocation Center: "It was shameful. That's Ansel. He doesn't have much sense about these things."
(thx, @gen and samuel)
Photo retoucher Jordan Lloyd took old photos of famous buildings and monuments being built and colorized them. The Eiffel Tower is the best one, but the others are worth a look as well. I also like these two colorized views of the Golden Gate Bridge construction (not done by Lloyd):
Lloyd and Wolfgang Wild are collaborating on a book of colorized historical photographs called The Paper Time Machine. You can support the project on Unbound.
The Misplaced Series removes notable New York buildings from their surroundings and "misplaces" them in desolate landscapes around the world. Concrete behemoths and steel-and-glass towers rise from sand dunes and rocky cliffs, inviting viewers to see them as if for the first time. Out of context, architectural forms become more pronounced and easily understood.
See all 10 buildings in their new surroundings at Misplaced New York.
Stitching together thousands of images, photographer Levon Biss produces huge and detailed photographs of tiny insects; prints of 10 mm bugs are 3 meters across. An exhibition of Biss' photos will be on display at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History. All three images above are of the orchid cuckoo bee at different levels of zoom. This video shows how the photos are made:
National Geographic has a selection of wonderful aerial photos from German photographer Bernhard Edmaier. His photos can also be found in two of his most recent books, Water and EarthArt.
Angélica Dass' Humanæ project matches photos of volunteer participants with the Pantone colors of their skin tones.
Update: Turns out this really cool blog you guys should be reading covered this project almost 4 years ago. (thx, @djacobs)
Alexey Zakharov gathered old photos of New York, Washington D.C. and other American cities from Shorpy and animated them into something wonderful. There's a cheesy steampunk time machine at the beginning...push through that to the good stuff. (via @pshoplifter)
The San Francisco earthquake of 1906 and the resulting fires destroyed 500 blocks, 25,000 buildings, killed more than 3000 people, and left more than half the city homeless. Alan Taylor curated a selection of photos of the earthquake and aftermath. The most striking ones are those taken from an airship that show how complete and extensive the destruction was. I mean:
Camilo Jose Vergara's Tracking Time project is a collection of photos of locations around the US (LA, Harlem, Detroit, South Bronx) photographed repeatedly over the years, from the 70s to the present day. For instance, here's how 65 East 125th St in Harlem looked in 1978:
And in 2015:
As Stewart Brand noted, Vergara's project is a perfect illustration of How Buildings Learn.
Update: I can't stop looking at these. Check out Fern St. in Camden, New at Newark Sts. in Newark, Paired Houses in Camden, and 6003 Compton Ave. in LA.
When six of Phil Collins' albums were recently remastered, he went back and recreated the covers as well. That's fun! (via @pieratt)
Update: Patrick Balls was the photographer for the reshoots.
The WSJ dispatched Matthew Riva to re-shoot classic NYC street scenes first captured by Berenice Abbott in the 1930s.
Nicholas Felton is out with a new book on information visualization and photography called Photoviz.
The stories told with graphics and infographics are now being visualized through photography. Fotoviz shows how these powerful images are depicting correlations, making the invisible visible, and revealing more detail than classic photojournalism.
Ahhhhh, this looks amazing. And is right up my alley as well...I quickly looked through some of the images featured in the book and I've posted many of them here before (see time merge media for instance). Can't wait for this one to arrive.
This is an experiment about expectations. Six photographers are given an assignment to shoot photos of one man. Each photographer is told a different story about the man: he's a millionaire, a lifesaver, an ex-con, a fisherman, a psychic, a recovering alcoholic. As you might expect, the photos taken by the different photographers of the same person are pretty different.
In 1982, photographer Barbara Davatz took photographs of 12 pairs of people. In 1988, she photographed them again. Same thing in 1997. And in 2014. A new book, As Time Goes By, collects all those photos in one place.
Their ranks have swelled over the years, with the addition of 14 children and even some grandchildren in the meantime, so the project now covers three generations. Other themes have long since been added to the original one of self-presentation. Without revealing any specific personal information, the series narrate a wide array of changes -- physical, biographical and sartorial -- over time. They tell of separations, of aging and loss, of the growth of families and the inheritance of family traits. But also of current urban society in each period.
See also many other "Passage of Time" photo projects and the Up Series. (via swiss miss)
After nearly a year in space, astronaut Scott Kelly and cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko will return from the ISS to Earth. During his stay in space, Kelly took hundreds of photographs and posted them to his Twitter account. You can view all the photos here or a selection of the best ones chosen by In Focus' Alan Taylor.
Valerio Vincenzo's project, Borderline, the Frontiers of Peace, consists of photos of the erased borders between countries in Europe's Schengen Area.
The Schengen Area is the area comprising 26 European countries that have abolished passport and any other type of border control at their common borders, also referred to as internal borders. It mostly functions as a single country for international travel purposes, with a common visa policy.
While visiting friends in France a few years ago, we passed the checkpoint between France and Switzerland several times a day and didn't even bother taking our passports with us. It felt weird but good. (via @neilhalloran)
In the style of the Paris scene in Inception and Berg's Here & There maps, Aydın Büyüktaş's Flatland project features photographs of city scenes seemingly folded over onto themselves. According to Design Taxi, Büyüktaş took photos of each scene with a drone and then stitched them together. (via @feltron)
A photo of NYC's Flatiron Building, taken in 1904 by Edward Steichen.
Fun fact: the Flatiron Building was not so named because of its resemblance to a clothes iron. It was actually named after the building's owner, Archibald W. Flatiron.
Ok, not really. But *puts on mansplaining suspenders* the part about the building not being named after its resemblance to an iron is true. It was the piece of land that was so-named, long before the building was even built. A man named Amos Eno owned the property and it became known as "Eno's flatiron". The canny Eno, knowing his property was conveniently located right next to Madison Square, erected a screen on top of the small building at the very tip of the triangle and made it available for motion picture advertising in the 1870s. From Alice Alexiou's The Flatiron:
He set up a canvas screen on top of the Erie ticket office roof, and charged the enterprising owners of stereopticons or "magic lanterns" -- these were the first slide projectors, invented about twenty years earlier and now extremely popular -- to project advertisements upon the screen. Madison Square, just opposite, provided the perfect place for the spectators. To keep them interested, the operator alternated pictures with the ads, all in rapid succession. "Niagara Falls dissolves into a box of celebrated boot blacking, and the celebrated blacking is superseded by a jungle scene, which fades into an extraordinarily cheap suite of furniture," wrote a reporter in Scribner's Magazine in August 1880. Sometimes in the Young Men's Christian Association paid to add their messages -- "The blood of Christ cleanses all from sin," "Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shall be saved" -- to the mix. On balmy evenings, the slide displays lasted until as late as ten o'clock. Even in cold and nasty weather, the free shows drew crowds. The New York Times began using Eno's screen for their news bulletins. The experiment drew huge crowds. "All the important events of the day were rapidly displayed in large letters... so that the public was at once informed of the news. From 7 o'clock until midnight the bulletins appeared in quick succession... The latest move in Erie, the Tweed trial, the hotel inspections, the doings of Congress... the messages being transmitted by telegraph from the Times office, as soon as received," the Times reported on January 14, 1873. The New York Tribune now also began buying time on Eno's screen. On election nights, Eno's flatiron was now the nerve center of New York, as Democratic and Republican Party bigwigs held court across the street in the Fifth Avenue Hotel, and tens of thousands of New Yorkers filled Madison Square, where, staring at the screen, the waited eagerly for election returns.
Not to get all Victorian Internet on you, but that sounds a little like Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat.
Eno was not the first to use such a system to disseminate information. Before baseball games were broadcast on the radio, enterprising business and newspaper owners used information from frequent telegraph messages to display scores from the games in increasingly engaging ways. In Georgia, they even cosplayed games from telegraph intel:
"A novel feature of the report was the actual running of the bases by uniformed boys, who obeyed the telegraph instrument in their moves around the diamond. Great interest prevailed and all enjoyed the report," read the Atlanta Constitution on April 17, 1886. (And as if that wasn't enough to entice you, the paper also noted that "A great many ladies were present.")
Which brings us back to that photo of the Flatiron. Just as the telegraph-assisted baseball game wasn't "the real thing" or in some sense "authentic", neither is Steichen's print. For starters, it's not the only one. Steichen made three prints from that same shot, one in 1904, another in 1905, and the last in 1909, the one shown above. You'll notice that each of the prints is a slightly different color...he applied a different pigment suspended in gum bichromate over a platinum print for each one. The 1909 print was time-delayed, a duplicate, and painted on...was it even a proper photograph? Perhaps some in that era didn't think so, but I believe time has proved that "great interest prevailed and all enjoyed" Steichen's photographs. *snaps suspenders*
This is a photo of a scratch circle taken by David Marvin:
However, the lack of snow and ice on the beaches has allowed unique features called scratch circles, or Scharrkreise, to form on the sand. Etched by windblown, dried dune grasses, the circles take shape when the wind causes a bent stalk of grass to pivot around on its axis, scratching out an arc or full circle in the sand.
This is delightful, a perfect geometric form made by nature in a seemingly random way. (via @BadAstronomer)
The Cassini spacecraft took a photo of two moons of Saturn, Tethys and Enceladus, beautifully aligned with each other. The cosmic ballet goes on. (via slate)
Really putting the "public" in "public library", the New York Public Library has placed 180,000 public domain items online.
Did you know that more than 180,000 of the items in our Digital Collections are in the public domain? That means everyone has the freedom to enjoy and reuse these materials in almost limitless ways. The Library now makes it possible to download such items in the highest resolution available directly from the Digital Collections website. No permission required. No restrictions on use.
"No permission required. No restrictions on use." And they're doing it specifically so that people will reuse and remix the images.
"We see digitization as a starting point, not end point," said Ben Vershbow, the director of NYPL Labs, the in-house technology division that spearheaded the effort. "We don't just want to put stuff online and say, 'Here it is,' but rev the engines and encourage reuse."
In an introductory blog post, the library shares some of what's in the new archive:
Berenice Abbott's iconic documentation of 1930s New York for the Federal Art Project
Farm Security Administration photographs by Walker Evans, Dorothea Lange, Gordon Parks, and others
Manuscripts of American literary masters like Walt Whitman, Henry David Thoreau, and Nathaniel Hawthorne
Papers and correspondence of founding American political figures like Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison
Fantastic stuff. Well done, NYPL.
Pete Souza's job for the past seven years has been to take photographs of the goings-on at the White House, including its inhabitants, staff, and guests. Behind the Lens: 2015 Year in Photographs is a selection of more than 100 photographs that Souza and his staff took last year. A few favorites:
That's the Obamas beginning a walk across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama on the 50th anniversary of the brutal police attack of peaceful march to Montgomery accompanied by some of the original marchers. I love the looks on the faces of the various marchers: the dignified determination of John Lewis, the appropriate solemnity of the President and First Lady, and the carefree expressions of Sasha and Malia.1
Obama's like Subzero from Mortal Kombat but with rainbows.
I'm not sure there will ever be another President in my lifetime I love as much as this one.
Because I hate fun, cute and funny animal photos are something I don't usually get excited about. But I will make an exception just this once for the inaugural Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards. (via colossal)
When you see photos of Jupiter, they're almost always the of same view: the north pole at the top, the gaseous bands perfectly horizontal, and the Red Spot somewhere in the mix. But @robdubbin reminds us that there are other ways of looking at Jupiter. Here's a view of the planet's southern hemisphere:
And the northern hemisphere:
If you take photos of the whole of Jupiter's surface and stretch it out flat, you get something like this:
That last one in particular is worth checking out at full resolution. (via @tcarmody)
Alan Taylor at In Focus has shared his list of the Top 25 News Photos of 2015.
As I have in past years, I'll share more lists of the year's best photos as they come in.
Update: The AP shares their Top 100 News Images of 2015. Very few of these photographs show anything good, so fair warning.
Update: In Focus has published all and three parts of a three-part series of 2015: The Year in Photos.
Update: One more from In Focus: Hopeful Images from 2015. A reminder that the good in the world vastly outweighs the bad...even if it doesn't often make the news.
Update: Nature has a collection of the best science images of 2015. The WSJ presents their Year in Photos 2015.
NASA's New Horizons probe has sent back the first of the sharpest images of Pluto it took during its July flyby of the planet.1
These latest images form a strip 50 miles (80 kilometers) wide on a world 3 billion miles away. The pictures trend from Pluto's jagged horizon about 500 miles (800 kilometers) northwest of the informally named Sputnik Planum, across the al-Idrisi mountains, over the shoreline of Sputnik, and across its icy plains.
View the new image at high resolution here or watch a video scroll of the imagery:
Kelli Anderson is at it again. Her pop-up book, This Book is a Planetarium, is due out this spring, but in the meantime, she's made a book that turns into an actual camera. And you can buy it or make your own. Here's how the camera works:
My copy arrived in the mail the other day and I can't wait to try it out.
Photographer Thomas Child took these images of Peking (now known as Beijing) in the 1870s and 1880s. This is of a Buddhist lama and his student:
And this one shows travelers on the Silk Road...according to Child, the camels "carry coal and lime into the City from the Western Hills, and merchandise between Peking and Mongolia":
And this one is the Great Wall:
Harvard graduate student Christopher Carothers recently travelled to North Korea and, because he was an American white man who spoke Korean, he was able to talk with some everyday North Koreans. The conversations he had make for fascinating reading.
Our tour group visited a local high school in a city north of Pyongyang. The students were disappointed when none of us could name three female North Korean heroes from their revolutionary history.
I didn't mind their patriotism, and their curiosity was refreshing. But when asked how I liked Pyongyang, what could I say? Usually I just said polite things and was rewarded with beaming faces. But was I being fair to these young adults? Doesn't intercultural exchange require some basic honesty? I told Jong Ho that I liked Korean people and appreciated how clean and grand their capital was.
"However," I went on gingerly, "I have to admit that Pyongyang is a poor city and out of touch with the modern age. Even a poor provincial capital in China wouldn't be envious."
He took this in for a minute and looked thoughtful.
"It's okay," he said with a smile, "I'm very glad to meet you."
Carothers chatted with his tour guide about politics:
"Who will be the next leader of America?" she asked. I explained about our two parties and gave her my best guess.
"But even if the party switches from Democratic to what are they called, Republicans, relations with Korea are always so tense. Why? Why does a big country like America continue to provoke a small country like Korea? No one wants war. We always say we are ready for war, but no one wants war. I don't understand politics."
"What American provocations do you mean?" I asked, curious. "Didn't the Great Marshal Kim Jong Un threaten to turn Seoul into a sea of flames?"
"Well, he's responding to American military exercises. Always with the military exercises with the South."
"I think, uh, many countries do military exercises," I tried to explain. "Some are defensive. Honestly, many Asian countries including South Korea are concerned about China's growth and the North getting nuclear weapons and so have asked to work with the U.S."
"The U.S. has many nuclear weapons. Isn't it ... hypocritical?"
"Maybe. But should a country that can't provide electricity properly in its capital really have nuclear weapons?"
"I see," she said quietly.
The whole thing is well worth a read. Some of the photos accompanying the article were taken by Christian Petersen-Clausen, who also recently visited North Korea as a tourist. (The photos at the top of this post were taken by Petersen-Clausen as well.) Keegan Hamilton interviewed him about his photos at Vice.
He said one surprise from the trip was that many North Koreans seemed "pretty damn aware" of life in the outside world. He saw people in Pyongyang using smartphones, which are connected to the country's propaganda-filled "intranet" and blocked from calling foreign countries, but says he was told it was relatively easy for people to procure Chinese or South Korean SIM cards. Foreign media, smuggled into the country on USB sticks, was also reportedly common.
"They watch Chinese and South Korean soap operas, they see the cars, the fashion, everything," he said. "It's basically rubbed in their faces how poor they are, while at the same time they can't talk about that."
I don't know what is going on, but in the past few days, several sites have linked to rarely seen or recently uncovered photos of vintage New York. In no particular order:
Paige Powell's photos of 80s culture in NYC, stored in boxes under her bed until very recently. She dated Basquiat and hung with Haring, Warhol, and Madonna. Below, Warhol and Grace Jones chat. Click through...there's another photo of Sting, Bob Dylan, and Warhol having dinner together.
David Attie's photographs of Brooklyn Heights from 1958, stored in wooden boxes in closets until recently. Attie was accompanied on his journey through the neighborhood by Truman Capote, a resident of the area. The photos are featured in a new edition of Capote's Brooklyn: A Personal Memoir.
Charles Traub's street style photos from the late 70s. He took the photos during his lunch breaks of everyday people he thought were interesting in some way. Traub's photos are collected in a new book, Lunchtime.
Janet Delaney's photos of NYC in the mid-80s. These photos have also been stored in a box until recently. Delaney also took dozens of photographs of SoMa in SF from 1978-1986.
Did you know that there's an alleged photograph of the iceberg that sunk the Titanic? I did not. This is the sonovabitch right here:
The picture was taken the morning of April 15th, 1912, by M. Linoenewald, Chief Steward of the German liner Prinz Adalbert a few miles south of where the Titanic had gone down taking 1,517 souls with her just hours earlier. The news of the disaster hadn't reached the liner yet, but the Chief Steward noticed red paint on the iceberg and took the photo out of interest.
In a statement by Linoenewald and three other crew members, they said "on one side red paint was plainly visible, which has the appearance of having been made by the scraping of a vessel on the iceberg".
But a photo of another iceberg with a red gash was taken by the captain of a ship searching for bodies in the vicinity a few weeks later. So maybe this is the bastard:
Anyway, ship-sinker or not, a copy of the first photo recently sold at auction for £21000.
Rich McCor's photography features paper cutouts added to real-life scenes. The Lego Arc de Triomphe made me almost squeal with glee when I saw it this morning. Reminds me of Christoph Niemann's stuff.
From photographer Freddy Fabris, The Renaissance Series, photographs of auto mechanics posed in the style of Renaissance paintings. (via colossal)
From pet photographer Amanda Jones comes a coffee table book featuring pairs of photographs of dogs, one taken as a puppy and again as an older dog.
See also The Brown Sisters by Nicholas Nixon and many other time passage photography projects. (via bright side)
Astronaut Scott Kelly, who is spending a continuous year in space,1 tweeted out a photo by fellow ISS resident Oleg Kononenko of NYC on Saturday night.
Of the many possibilities, I'd like to point out just three interesting things.
1. Times Square! And not just that, but the whole of central Midtown is now lit up like a Christmas tree from 34th Street to Central Park.
2. The bright spot of light in the upper right corner of the image above is Citi Field. The photo must have been taken during Game 1 of the NLCS between the Mets and the Cubs. The Mets won that game 4-2. #LGM!
3. You'll notice that the streetlights in much of the city are orange. But in the bottom right corner, in Brooklyn, you can see the future. NYC is currently replacing all of the orange-glowing sodium vapor streetlights with blue-glowing LED lights that are longer lasting and more energy efficient. But they are also brighter and some are already complaining about the harsh blue light.
The new LEDs may be environmentally sensitive, but they are also optically harsh.
"The old lights made everybody look bad," said Christopher Stoddard, an architect, who lives at the corner of Fuller Place. "But these are so cold and blue, it's like 'Night of the Living Dead' out there."
"We're all for saving energy," his wife, Aida Stoddard, also an architect, said, "but the city can do so much better."
A few blocks away, Rose Gallitelli taped up black garbage bags on her bedroom windows so that she could sleep. "They're the heavy-duty kind," she said.
The lighting refit is scheduled to be completed in two years. The city will look different when it's done, in real life, on Instagram, and in film. (via @ginatrapani)
Update: Photographer Pari Dukovic has a shot of one of the old sodium vapor street lamps in the New Yorker this week.
The Light L16 camera looks interesting, both literally and figuratively. The L16 comes with 16 different built-in lenses, many of which fire at the same time, creating a super high-quality image at a 52-megapixel resolution.1 Having all those lenses firing at once lets you snap photos and decide on things like focal length and depth of field later.
Using a new approach to folded optics design, the Light L16 Camera packs DSLR quality into a slim and streamlined camera body. It's like having a camera body, zoom, and 3 fast prime lenses right in your pocket. With 16 individual cameras, 10 of them firing simultaneously, the L16 captures the detail of your shot at multiple fixed focal lengths. Then the images are computationally fused to create an incredible high-quality final image with up to 52 megapixel resolution.
Would love to try this out if anyone from Light is reading.
Yale has made 170,000 Library of Congress photos of the US from 1935 to 1945 available online, searchable and sortable in many different ways.
In order to build support for and justify government programs, the Historical Section set out to document America, often at her most vulnerable, and the successful administration of relief service. The Farm Security Administration-Office of War Information (FSA-OWI) produced some of the most iconic images of the Great Depression and World War II and included photographers such as Dorothea Lange, Walker Evans, and Arthur Rothstein who shaped the visual culture of the era both in its moment and in American memory. Unit photographers were sent across the country. The negatives were sent to Washington, DC. The growing collection came to be known as "The File." With the United State's entry into WWII, the unit moved into the Office of War Information and the collection became known as the FSA-OWI File.
This photo of five Secret Service agents bracing themselves against helicopter prop wash is my favorite photo of the week.
It's like they're each individually posing for their own super-boss album cover. Larger here.
From photographer Richard Silver, vertical panoramic photos of churches that emphasize their often incredible ceilings. (via ignant)
Photographer Arkadiusz Podniesiński recently took a trip to Japan to the area affected by the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. He toured towns closed due to high radiation levels, talked to former residents, and observed clean-up efforts in some of the less affected areas.
When entering the zone, the first thing that one notices is the huge scale of decontamination work. Twenty thousand workers are painstakingly cleaning every piece of soil. They are removing the top, most contaminated layer of soil and putting it into sacks, to be taken to one of several thousand dump sites. The sacks are everywhere. They are becoming a permanent part of the Fukushima landscape.
The contamination work does not stop at removal of contaminated soil. Towns and villages are being cleaned as well, methodically, street by street and house by house. The walls and roofs of all the buildings are sprayed and scrubbed. The scale of the undertaking and the speed of work have to be admired. One can see that the workers are keen for the cleaning of the houses to be completed and the residents to return as soon as possible.
Photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand is known for his aerial photography of the Earth's landscapes, but in his film Human, he blends his trademark overview style with simply shot interviews with people from all over the world.
Humans made its debut earlier this month and is available in its entirety on YouTube in three 90-minute parts; start here with part one. (via in focus, which is featuring several photos from the film)
With California in the midst of a particularly intense multi-year drought and 2015 looking to be the warmest year on record by a wide margin,1 Edward Burtynsky's "Water" series of photographs is especially relevant.
Many of photos in the series are on display in Berkeley through February and are also available in book form.
Update: Burtynsky also collaborated on a documentary about water called Watermark. Here's a trailer:
The film is available to watch on Amazon Instant and iTunes. (via @steveportigal)
The issue of The Collective Quarterly on Vermont's Mad River Valley is wonderful and gorgeous.
When we visited the Mad River Valley -- which includes the towns of Warren, Waitsfield, Moretown, Fayston, and Duxbury -- we found grown men who loiter outside the local general store like furtive minors, sheepishly asking inbound customers if they'd be willing to help them circumvent the three-bottle limit on the impossible-to-find Sip of Sunshine double IPA from Lawson's Finest Liquids. We shared drinks with backwoods boys, each with a quirky approach to extreme sports: kayaking raging rivers, big-air huck fests in sleds, and cliff-jumping at near-suicidal heights. We met a man who builds houses in the trees for the disabled youth of the Mad River Valley. We found a woman who forges artful kitchen knives out of old horse-hoof rasps from her father's blacksmith operation. We ran into a socialist German refugee whose politically charged puppet shows in the fields of the Northeast Kingdom draw thousands.
And of course there were the architects. By some estimates, there are more architects per capita in Warren, Vermont, than anywhere else in the United States. Throughout the '60s and '70s, these freewheeling designers hacked together zany, experimental constructions on Prickly Mountain, heralding the arrival of the design/build movement.
I've spent quite a bit of time there, and I can tell you that the magazine definitely captured it. From just this summer, here's Ollie doing a 360 off a cliff at the swim hole and views of another more peaceful swim hole as well as from a hike I took:
Camera Restricta is a speculative camera design by Philipp Schmitt that won't allow you to take photos if too many have already been taken by others at that location.
On the other hand, I sometimes have the chance, and then the responsibility of course, to take the last photo of a place before the shutter retracts permanently. Or maybe even the first photo of a place, where no photos have been taken yet. This is then guaranteed to be a truly unique capture.
It would be cool to pair this with a service that automatically deposits not-taken photos of heavily photographed places you visit into your account, i.e. when Camera Restricta won't let you take a picture of the Eiffel Tower, a photo of it found online and taken from your exact location would be placed in your Dropbox photos folder. (via @bdeskin)
Bjorn Jonsson used the photos taken by NASA's New Horizons spacecraft to make an animation of the probe's flyby of Pluto.
The time covered is 09:35 to 13:35 (closest approach occurred near 11:50). Pluto's atmosphere is included and should be fairly realistic from about 10 seconds into the animation and to the end. Earlier it is largely just guesswork that can be improved in the future once all data has been downlinked from the spacecraft. Light from Pluto's satellite Charon illuminates Pluto's night side but is exaggerated here, in reality it would be only barely visible or not visible at all.
Fantastic...and Pluto's moons flying about in the background is the cherry on the top. (via @BadAstronomer)
The Jefferson Grid is an Instagram account which posts satellite photos picturing one square mile of land.
The account takes its name from the grid Thomas Jefferson used to divide up the growing United States.
The Land Ordinance of 1785, drafted by Thomas Jefferson, extended government authority over the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes regions. As a response to what he believed to be a confusing survey system already in use, Jefferson suggested a new grid system based on the rectangle. The grid divided land into plots one mile square, each consisting of 640 acres. The grid also placed a visible design upon a relatively untouched landscape. The ordinance was the first of its kind in America but would continue to affect urban, suburban and farmland planning to present day.
Photographer Carlos Gonzalez, aka Theonepointeight, captured these photos of an abandoned LA shopping mall.
PDN has an interview with Gonzalez about the series.
I shot everything in one day. I would say that I spent about five or six hours in there just exploring and shooting. I wasn't escorted inside but once I snuck into the parking structure, there were a few teens on skateboards that pointed me in the right direction. Without their guidance, there's no way I would've found a way in. The place is simply too massive. In fact, as the daylight was fading I almost got trapped inside since I couldn't find my way out.
Mark Reay is a former model, actor, and fashion photographer who was homeless in NYC for six years. Homme Less is a documentary on Reay; here's a trailer:
So began a period of my life sleeping rough. It was pretty tiring, and I didn't have much luck with the photos, but I stuck it out. I've never let the lack of money stop me having a good time, and I still had (dwindling) savings from my modelling. It was a happy time. At night I would always treat myself to a rotisserie chicken, but I always wanted a chilled rosé with it. So, in the afternoon, I would sneak into a minimarket, get the cheapest one from the shelf and hide it under the frozen peas. Then, at night, I would put on a fresh shirt and go to one of the fancy bars with my wine in my bag. Again, maybe because I had a certain look, no one ever checked my bag. I'd just go in, nick a glass off the counter and drink my wine surrounded my millionaires.
You can get away with anything if you're confident. Oh, and male, white, and good looking.
Walter Chang saved up, quit his job, travelled around the world for three years, and made this video.
I went to South America and trekked through Patagonia. In Zimbabwe, hippos, lions, and elephants roamed through our camping ground. When I got to South Korea, my relatives treated me as one of their own, despite having last seen them 18 years prior.
It was in China, the third country of my trip, when I realized that what I was doing wasn't totally crazy. I had already met a multitude of other backpackers taking extended trips ranging from several months to four years. Young people from abroad were prioritizing travel over hurrying into careers.
This video makes me happy. And sad...I am clearly not grabbing enough tiger by the tail in life currently. Chang is doing a Kickstarter campaign for a book of photos from the trip.
Clothing retailer Forever 21 hired product and prototyping company Breakfast to build them a giant screen made out of spools of thread to "print" people's Instagram photos. The screen, which Breakfast bills as "one of the most complex machines ever built for a brand", weighs 2000 pounds, measures 11 ft high, 9 ft wide, and 3 ft deep, and has a resolution of 80x80 spool pixels. Here's how they made it:
If you want to give it a try, just tag an Instagram photo with #F21ThreadScreen and it'll print it out for you (watch the live stream). Prior art alert: the first time I remember seeing something like this was Daniel Rozin's Wooden Mirror (1999) at ITP (video here).
From Petapixel, a list of photographic firsts, including the first photograph (1826), the first digital photograph (1957), the first photo of the Sun (1845), and the first photograph of a US President (1843).
John Quincy Adams, the sixth President of the United States, was the first president to have his photograph taken. The daguerreotype was shot in 1843, a good number of years after Adams left office in 1829. The first to have his picture taken in office was James Polk, the 11th President, who was photographed in 1849.
Adams was born in 1767, which got me thinking about a long-standing interest of mine: who was the earliest born person ever photographed? The Maine Historical Society believes Revolutionary War vet Conrad Heyer was the earliest born. Born in 1749, he crossed the Delaware with Washington before sitting for this portrait in 1852.
But according to the Susquehanna County Historical Society, John Adams (no apparent relation to the above Adams) was born in 1745 and was photographed at some point before he died in 1849. Other contenders with unverified ages include Revolutionary War vet Baltus Stone (born somewhere between 1744 and 1754 according to various sources) and a former slave named Caesar, photographed in 1851 at the alleged age of 114, which would mean he was born around 1737.
Still, that's photographs of at least two people who were born in the 1740s, at least five years before the start of the French and Indian War. As children, it's possible they could have interacted with people who lived through England's Glorious Revolution in 1688 or even the English Civil War (1642-1651). The Great Span lives on.
For the past two years, Patrik Svedberg has been photographing a single Swedish tree and posting the results to Instagram.
The tree is the protagonist, but rather a passive one, letting the plot unfold around it. Each photo contains a story of its own. It's all in the details and very often with a humorous twist. Just "beautiful" would bore me to death.
Actual zookeepers taking photos of themselves doing Chris Pratt's Jurassic World velociraptor taming move is a thing. Here's the original:
And the imitators:
Found them here and here. If you find others, send them along!
Update: Laurel sent this one in from the California Academy of Sciences:
Update: Several more zookeepers being awesome via @ohmygoat1, @susiethefivetoedsloth, @parrotman_jon, and @kati_speer.
Update: Ok, a few more via @MrDABailey, The Minnesota Zoo, The Georgia Aquarium, and Reddit.
Update: One last photo brings this meme to a fitting close. This is Chris Pratt himself, taming some children during a recent visit to a local children's hospital.
Update: Ok, ok, one more and then that's it, America needs to move on. Here's the Dinosaur Curator of the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History taming some actual dinosaurs, long-dead though they may be:
From 2010 to 2013, photographer Jimmy Nelson travelled the world documenting some of the world's last remaining indigenous cultures. The result is Before They Pass Away (also available in book form).
Peoples photographed include Huli, Maasai, Maori, Drokpa, Himba, and more than a dozen others. (via ignant)
Storm-chasing photographer Kelly DeLay recently took a photo of a massive storm supercell featuring two simultaneous tornadoes.
About 30 minutes after snapping that once-in-lifetime photo, DeLay captured a shot of the same supercell with one tornado, a double rainbow, and several streaking hailstones:
That's like the everything bagel of storm photography. (via 500px iso)
From Ralph Mirebs, photos of the abandoned Baikonur Cosmodrome, which houses the remains of the Buran programme, the Soviet version of the Space Shuttle program. (thx, tim)
Tasha Sturm, a lab technician at Cabrillo College, had her 8-year-old son put his handprint on a prepared petri dish and then incubated it for several days. This was the result:
If you'll excuse me, I have to go wash my hands about 4,000 times. Bacteria is cooooool though:
OldNYC offers a map view of old photos of New York City, drawn from the collection at the New York Public Library. This is fantastic, like a historical Google Street View. For instance, there used to be a huge theater on the corner of 7th Avenue and Christopher St, circa 1929:
If I didn't have a thing to do this afternoon, I would spend all day exploring this. So so good. (via @mccanner)
For his project Trophy Scarves, artist Nate Hill photographed himself "[wearing] white women for status and power".
Hill says "it's a satire on black men who like to see white women as status symbols". NSFW (some nudity)...or you can view censored pics on Instagram.
From the design shop of Lernert & Sander, a poster of almost a hundred different foods cut into perfect little cubes. No CGI involved, it's actually food. No idea how they got some of those foods to hang together...particularly the onion, cabbage, and leek. (via colossal)
From Kevin Kelly, a collection of photos he took of Katmandu, Nepal in 1976.
Nepal was recently affected by a 7.8 earthquake, which resulted in the deaths of more than 6000 people and much property damage.
Katmandu was an intensely ornate city that is easily damaged. The carvings, details, public spaces were glorious. My heart goes out to its citizens who suffer with their city. As you can see from these images I took in 1976, the medieval town has been delicate for decades. Loosely stacked bricks are everywhere. One can also see what splendid art has been lost. Not all has been destroyed, and I am sure the Nepalis will rebuild as they have in the past. Still, the earthquake shook more than just buildings.
If you look carefully you may notice something unusual about these photos. They show no cars, pedicabs, or even bicycles. At the time I took these images, Katmandu was an entirely pedestrian city. Everyone walked everywhere. Part of why I loved it. That has not been true for decades, so this is something else that was lost long ago. Also missing back then was signage. There are few signs for stores, or the typical wordage you would see in any urban landscape today. Katmandu today is much more modern, much more livable, or at least it was.
I was never a particular fan of David Letterman's show1 but always have appreciated what he did and how he did it. Dave Itzkoff of the NY Times did an interview with Letterman about his impending retirement.
It seems like there's an increasing emphasis, at least with your network competitors, to create comedy bits that will go viral on the Internet. Did you make a conscious choice to stay out of that arms race?
No, it just came and went without me. It sneaked up on me and went right by. People on the staff said, "You know what would be great is if you would join Twitter." And I recognized the value of it. It's just, I didn't know what to say. You go back to your parents' house, and they still have the rotary phone. It's a little like that.
The photo slide show accompanying the piece is worth a look as well, particularly the photo of the stack of paper coffee cups in Letterman's dressing room (one cup for each show, they cover half his mirror) and the final one of Letterman bounding out onto stage. I hope that when I'm 68, I'm still charging ahead like Dave.
I am a total sucker for great wave photography. Like these photos from Ray Collins.
Prints are available of Collins' photos and many of them have been collected into a coffee table book called Found at Sea. (via @naveen)
Ok, this is one of the strangest photos I've ever seen. In the background, there's a building on fire and in the foreground, there's a football game going on like there's not a building on fire right there. From their photographic recap of 1965, In Focus has the story:
Spectators divide their attention as the Mount Hermon High School football team in Massachusetts hosts Deerfield Academy during a structure fire in the Mount Hermon science building on November 24, 1965. The science building was destroyed, and Mount Hermon lost the football game, ending a two-year-long winning streak.
Update: The photo above reminded some readers of this photo, taken by Joel Sternfeld in 1978.
You'll notice the fireman buying a pumpkin while the house behind him burns, although there's a bit more to the story than that.
In 1996, a building burned outside the stadium during the LSU/Auburn game:
(via @slowernet & @davisseal)
Update: Sarah Lyall of the NY Times goes long on the Mount Hermon photo, which was very much real and celebrated when it was initially published.
Even at the time, when the photograph was reprinted around the world, people thought it was too weird to be real. "My colleagues maintain it is a real picture, but I believe it is of the April fool type," wrote Phil F. Brogan, an editor at The Bulletin newspaper in Bend, Ore. ("I can assure you that the picture was not faked," replied Arthur H. Kiendl Jr., the headmaster of Mount Hermon, the Massachusetts prep school where the game took place.)
In fact, the photograph, of Mount Hermon's game against Deerfield Academy on Nov. 20, 1965, was an instant classic. Though the photographer, Robert Van Fleet, never received much in the way of money for it, it was named the Associated Press sports photograph of the year. It was featured on the back page of Life magazine. It was reproduced in dozens of newspapers and magazines across the United States, including The New York Times, often accompanied by supposedly amusing captions about Rome burning, the teams' "red-hot rivalry" and the like.
For his book Preservation, Blake Little drenched his subjects in honey and took their photos, mid-drizzle. A bit NSFW.
For their new ad campaign, Apple gathered some photos that people had taken with their iPhones and are featuring them on their website and on billboards. Here are a few I found particularly engaging.
I've said it before and it's just getting more obvious: the iPhone is the best camera in the world.
Update: Apple has added a section for films shot on iPhone 6.
This is the rope seal securing the doors of Tutankhamun's tomb, unbroken for more than 3200 years until shortly after Harry Burton took this photo in 1923. A description from National Geographic:
Still intact in 1923 after 32 centuries, rope secures the doors to the second of four nested shrines in Tutankhamun's burial chamber. The necropolis seal -- depicting captives on their knees and Anubis, the jackal god of the dead -- remains unbroken, a sign that Tut's mummy lies undisturbed inside.
How did the rope last for so long? Rare Historical Photos explains:
Rope is one of the fundamental human technologies. Archaeologists have found two-ply ropes going back 28,000 years. Egyptians were the first documented civilization to use specialized tools to make rope. One key why the rope lasted so long wasn't the rope itself, it was the aridity of the air in the desert. It dries out and preserves things. Another key is oxygen deprivation. Tombs are sealed to the outside. Bacteria can break things down as long as they have oxygen, but then they effectively suffocate. It's not uncommon to find rope, wooden carvings, cloth, organic dyes, etc. in Egyptian pyramids and tombs that wouldn't have survived elsewhere in the world.
Photographer Gloria Wilson takes photos of birds in flight. A few favorites:
Wilson sells prints of this series in her Etsy shop. (thx, meg)
From the newly launched site for the National Audubon Society, some gorgeous photos of owls from Brad Wilson.
It's not easy to get owls to mug for the camera. Even in captivity the birds remain aloof, unruffled by the flash and unmoved by attempts to bribe them. Photographer Brad Wilson learned that lesson firsthand after trying to win over owls from the World Bird Sanctuary in St. Louis and The Wildlife Center near Espanola, New Mexico. He spent hours with each bird, trying to capture its direct gaze. "It's hard to get animals to look at you like humans do," he says. "That shot became my holy grail."
I've featured Wilson's animal photography on the site before. Tons more on his site.
Removal of items from US National Parks is illegal (or at least highly frowned upon). In the case of the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona, the removal of petrified wood has come to be seen by some as unlucky. Bad Luck, Hot Rocks is a book and web site containing "conscience letters" from those who are returning stolen rocks to the park.
In the more than one hundred years since its establishment in 1906, however, some visitors have still been unable to resist the urge to remove wood from the park. Some of these same visitors eventually return their ill gotten souvenirs by mail, accompanied by 'conscience letters.' The content of each letter varies, but writers often include stories of misfortune, attributed directly to their stolen petrified wood. Car troubles. Cats with cancer. Deaths of family members. For many, their hope is that by returning these rocks, good fortune will return to their lives. Other common themes include expressions of remorse, requests for forgiveness, and warnings to future visitors.
From the Daily Overview, a photo of the whirlpool exchange that connects three major roads together in Dubai (map).
Worth viewing larger...that's a 12-lane highway running through the center of this monster. (thx, bill)
Sometimes religion and a bit of wordplay come together to make something clever. So it is with Neil DaCosta's project, The Book of Mormon Missionary Positions, a collection of photos depicting two fully clothed Mormon Missionaries in various sexual positions, as in the Kama Sutra.
NSFW, I guess...I felt a bit sheepish scrolling through that page at the office even though everyone is fully clothed. (via a photo editor)
Photographer Vincent Laforet hung himself out of a helicopter hovering at 7500 feet with his high-ISO cameras to capture these gorgeous shots of NYC at night. The blue-purple glow is Times Square.
These are pictures I've wanted to make since I was in my teens, but the cameras simply have not been capable of capturing aerial images from a helicopter at night until very recently.
Helicopters vibrate pretty significantly and you have to be able to shoot at a relatively high shutter speed (even with tools like a gyroscope) and that makes it incredibly difficult to shoot post sunset.Special thanks to long time friend and aerial coordinator Mike Isler & Liberty Helicopters.
Armed with cameras such as the Canon 1DX and the Mamiya Leaf Credo 50 MP back -- both capable of shooting relatively clean files at 3200 & 6400 ISO and a series of f2.8 to f1.2 lenses including a few tilt-shift lenses.
I was finally able to capture some of the images that I've dreamed of capturing for decades.
Check out the whole series on Laforet's web site.
The Atlantic is beefing up their photography coverage with the launch of The Atlantic Photo. This replaces In Focus and will be edited by Alan Taylor.
I'd like to introduce our readers to The Atlantic's new Photo section, an expanded home for photography at TheAtlantic.com. This new section features not only an updated look, but more variety in formats, wider images for bigger screens, and a design that works well across a range of mobile devices.
As the editor of the Photo section, I'll continue to publish long-form photo essays nearly every day, as I have for years, in a series we'll still call In Focus, but I'll also start publishing shorter posts-often just a single noteworthy image-under a new category we're calling Burst. I'm really excited to be able to share even more high-quality photography with even more readers.
NiemanLab did a Q&A with Taylor about the new site.
I spend almost all of my day looking through photos, trying to find stories to tell the next day or the next week. Pretty often, I will come across a single image or two or three images, and there's nothing more to go with it. And since I've made it my thing to always be posting longform narratives -- constructed either from a single photographer or multiple photographers -- I thought it would be confusing to mix it up, so I just shied away from doing it.
I've been doing the photo editing now for seven years, and now it's nice to have the ability to do it just whenever something comes up. If I want to do a historic photo of the day, something from the archives, or something from the Library of Congress, or a really amazing photo was just released by NASA -- I just don't really have an easy outlet for that, and it'd be nice to have. And now I'm going to have it, hopefully.
I've long been a fan of Taylor (since the Big Picture days) and am excited to see what he gets up to with The Atlantic Photo.
You've probably seen many of these images pop up on FB and Twitter this year. And they are amazing! But actually totally fake!
No, this isn't a solar eclipse as seen from the International Space Station.
Space photo researcher @FakeAstropix keeps debunking this one, but it keeps popping up in every corner of the internet. Which is why it's earned our top spot today. It's actually a rendering from DeviantArt user A4size-ska. Beautiful, but totally fake.
Does "even if it's fake it's real" apply here? (via @john_overholt)
Photos by AP Photo/UNRWA, Justin Sullivan/Getty Images, Robert Cohen/MCT/St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Andrew Hara/Getty Images, Yasuyoshi Chiba/Agence France-Presse, and ESA/Rosetta/MPS for OSIRIS Team, respectively.
Many many more photos of the year at In Focus, Reuters, Buzzfeed, Agence France-Presse, the NY Times, Time, and The Big Picture.
When I went to the Poptech conference 10 years ago, one of the talks featured one of the world's largest books, a book of photographs of Bhutan. The book used to fetch $10,000 a copy, but Amazon now sells it for just under $300. Something is fishy though...many of the vendors selling the book are shipping it for only $3.99, which seems unlikely for a book that weighs 133 pounds. (via cory)
Update: Long story short, there were two versions of this book made: the big one and a smaller one that's only a foot and a half tall. That Amazon link used to go to the big book but it's the little one now. Make sense? Anyway, here's a link to the big one if you want to buy it for $5,824.34 with free shipping. (thx everyone)
An exhibition by Danny Lyon of color photos he took in the NYC subway is being staged by the MTA. The photos have never been publicly shown before.
The trains shown in these two photos still run occasionally: just catch the M between 2nd Ave and Queens Plaza between 10am and 5pm on the two remaining Sundays in Dec.
Aerial Wallpapers is a collection of iPhone-sized wallpapers of satellite imagery and topographic maps from @juririm. I just downloaded several of these. The image above is a satellite image of the Namib Desert in southern Africa.
Update: See also Earth View, "a collection of the most beautiful and striking landscapes found in Google Earth". Oh, and the Daily Overview. (via colossal)
From artist Mishka Henner, a selection of satellite photos of Texas feedlots, where beef cattle are sent to be "finished", aka to quickly gain weight for slaughter on a diet of corn. I'm pretty sure the redness of that pit/lake is not blood but algae (or whatever), but it sure creates that impression, doesn't it?
Photographer Ernie Button photographs the dried remains of single malt scotch whiskies, which end up looking like desolate landscapes on distant worlds.
Curious as to how these patterns were formed by some kinds of whiskey but not others, Button reached out to an engineering professor at Princeton.
Dr. Stone's group found that the key difference in whisky is that unlike coffee, it consists of two liquids -- water and ethyl alcohol. The alcohol evaporates more quickly, and as the fraction of water increases, the surface tension of the droplet changes, an effect first noticed in the 19th century by an Italian scientist, Carlo Marangoni. That, in turn, generates complex flows that contribute to the patterns Mr. Button photographed.
"Here, they actually looked at what happens when you change the fluids that are drying," said Dr. Yunker, who is soon heading to the Georgia Institute of Technology as a physics professor, "and they found some very neat effects." (That would be neat in the usual sense of "cool and intriguing" and not as in "I'll have my whisky neat.")
For his recently released book Wild Life, Brad Wilson shot photos of all kinds of animals on a black background, resulting in unusually expressive portraits.
Reminds me of Jill Greenberg's monkey portraits...expressive in the same way.
In Focus has a photo retrospective of the Berlin Wall, 25 years after it fell. This is one of the most iconic photos, depicting East German border guard Conrad Schumann leaping over the Wall during the early days of construction, when it was only barbed wire.
Schumann made a clean getaway, settled in Bavaria, and lived to see the fall of the Wall in 1989. But Schumann struggled with the separation from his family, birthplace, and old life and, suffering from depression, died of suicide in 1998. Walls may fall, but that's not the same as never having built them in the first place.
Beginning in 1985, photographer and filmmaker Doug Menuez wrangled access to some of the people at the center of the Silicon Valley technology boom, including Steve Jobs as he broke away from Apple to create NeXT. Menuez has published more than 100 of those behind-the-scenes photos in a new book, Fearless Genius.
In the spring of 1985, a technological revolution was under way in Silicon Valley, and documentary photographer Doug Menuez was there in search of a story -- something big. At the same time, Steve Jobs was being forced out of his beloved Apple and starting over with a new company, NeXT Computer. His goal was to build a supercomputer with the power to transform education. Menuez had found his story: he proposed to photograph Jobs and his extraordinary team as they built this new computer, from conception to product launch.
In an amazing act of trust, Jobs granted Menuez unlimited access to the company, and, for the next three years, Menuez was able to get on film the spirit and substance of innovation through the day-to-day actions of the world's top technology guru.
The web site for the project details some of the other things Menuez has in store, including a feature-length documentary and a TV series. Ambitious. For a sneak peek, check out the NeXT-era photos Menuez posted at Storehouse. This image of Jobs, labelled "Steve Jobs Pretending to Be Human", is a particular favorite:
From the Guardian's photo editor, an annotated list of the 25 best photographs of Muhammad Ali. My favorite is by Neil Leifer:
Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield became a celebrity while aboard the International Space Station. Now he's publishing a book of photographs he took during his time in orbit: You Are Here: Around the World in 92 Minutes.
During 2,597 orbits of our planet, I took about 45,000 photographs. At first, my approach was scattershot: just take as many pictures as possible. As time went on, though, I began to think of myself as a hunter, silently stalking certain shots. Some eluded me: Brasilia, the capital of Brazil, and Uluru, or Ayers Rock, in Australia. I captured others only after methodical planning: "Today, the skies are supposed to be clear in Jeddah and we'll be passing nearby in the late afternoon, so the angle of the sun will be good. I need to get a long lens and be waiting at the window, looking in the right direction, at 4:02 because I'll have less than a minute to get the shot." Traveling at 17,500 miles per hour, the margin for error is very slim. Miss your opportunity and it may not arise again for another six weeks, depending on the ISS's orbital path and conditions on the ground.
In an interview with Quartz, Hadfield says the proceeds from the book are being donated to the Red Cross.
Actress Tippi Hedren and her family (including her then-teenage daughter Melanie Griffith) lived with a pet lion named Neil for a while back in the 1970s. Here's Neil and Melanie catching a few winks together:
Czech photographer Dita Pepe takes portraits of herself integrated into the lives of other people.
In Focus has a look at some of the early entries in National Geographic's annual photography contest. Good stuff as usual.
Photo by Mehmet Karaca. Love the way the mantis's tail mimics the branch it's standing on.
Rose Callahan photographs gentlemen with "exceptional personal style" for her blog, The Dandy Portraits.
She's collected some of her best shots into a book, I Am Dandy: The Return of the Elegant Gentleman. See also the great dude battles of the 1880s. (via slate)
Conflict photographer Ashley Gilbertson recently embedded himself in the video game The Last of Us Remastered and sent back a selection of war photos.
Reminds me a bit of Jim Munroe's My Trip to Liberty City, a film made from the perspective of a tourist visiting the city featured in Grand Theft Auto III:
Update: New Gamer took photos of a road trip in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. (via @johnke)
We've been using Eyefi cards to upload photos from the kids' cameras to Flickr. Matt Haughey has a review of their newest card, the Eyefi Mobi, which automagically syncs to your phone, resulting in a 20-second DSLR-to-Instagram workflow.
In essence, the card turns any dumb camera into an outboard lens for your phone. Last week on a trip to NYC I took my new compact camera with me and could easily upload photos to Instagram and Twitter within seconds of taking the photos. I mean that literally: I can take a photo with my camera, open up my phone, touch the mobi app icon and about ten seconds later I can be saving that image to my phone's camera roll. I could also manipulate and tweak the images in a plethora of iPhone apps like VSCOcam, Photoshop Express, etc. directly on the phone before sharing it out to the world.
This sounds amazing. Step one for me: get a camera. Any suggestions? I've been eyeing Fujifilm's X100S for quite awhile...
Getty Images photographer Justin Sullivan recently captured some photos of lakes in California showing the extent of the drought there. For me, this is the craziest one, of Bidwell Marina at Lake Oroville:
And this is what it normally looks like:
In 1984, Daniel Root took photos of the East Village in NYC. Root is revisiting the locations of those photos and posting comparisons to a Tumblr.
Wish the images were bigger...370x250 is more of a 1984 resolution.
World War II began 75 years ago today with Germany's invasion of Poland. A few years back, Alan Taylor did a 20-part photographic retrospective of the war for In Focus, which is well worth the time to scroll through.
These images still give us glimpses into the experiences of our parents, grandparents and great grandparents, moments that shaped the world as it is today.
Life has a collection of color photos of the invasion of Poland. Time has a map dated Aug 28, 1939 that shows how Europe was preparing for war, including "Americans scuttle home".
In celebration of National Aviation Day, In Focus has a slideshow of photos of the Wright Brothers' first flights.
The caption on that photo reads:
First flight: 120 feet in 12 seconds, on December 17, 1903. This photograph shows man's first powered, controlled, sustained flight. Orville Wright at the controls of the machine, lying prone on the lower wing with hips in the cradle which operated the wing-warping mechanism. Wilbur Wright running alongside to balance the machine, has just released his hold on the forward upright of the right wing. The starting rail, the wing-rest, a coil box, and other items needed for flight preparation are visible behind the machine. Orville Wright preset the camera and had John T. Daniels squeeze the rubber bulb, tripping the shutter.
The Wright Brothers were 32 & 36 years old when they made their first flight at Kitty Hawk in 1903. The Wright Flyer was not the product of daring youthful innovation (as with Picasso, Bill Gates, or Mozart) but rather of years of experience and experimentation (like Cezanne, Twain, or Frank Lloyd Wright).
People are taking photos of statues that cleverly make it look as though the statues are taking selfies.
There's a group on Reddit but most of the photos really aren't that good. There are more examples on Instagram, including this one and this one from June that predate the activity on Reddit. But the earliest instances I found of statue selfies were this Instagram photo from The Art Institute of Chicago and this tweet featuring the Statue of Liberty, both from December 2013.
Update: See also Museum of Selfies.
Photographer David Slater wants Wikipedia to remove his photograph of a monkey taking a photo of itself but Wikipedia has refused, saying that as the monkey was the photographer, Slater has no right to the copyright to the photo.
The Gloucestershire-based photographer now claims that the decision is jeopardising his income as anyone can take the image and publish it for free, without having to pay him a royalty. He complained to Wikimedia that he owned the copyright of the image, but a recent transparency report from the group, which details all the removal requests it has received, reveals that editors decided that the monkey itself actually owned the copyright because it was the one that pressed the shutter button.
But shouldn't Wikipedia take it down anyway because they don't have the monkey's permission to release the photo into the public domain? (I mean, probably not...monkeys don't have any rights under the law, yes?) (via @capndesign)
Update: A previous version of this post stated that Wikipedia said that the monkey held the copyright. They said no such thing...that was my poor paraphrase. In the US at least, monkeys obviously can't hold copyrights. From the Compendium II of Copyright Office Practices, section 202.02(b) states:
The term "authorship" implies that, for a work to be copyrightable, it must owe its origin to a human being. Materials produced solely by nature, by plants, or by animals are not copyrightable.
Interesting phrase, "owe its origin to"...perhaps Slater has a point. (via @stvnrlly)
Update: According to a recent 1000+ page document produced by the US Copyright Office, a photograph taken by a monkey is "unprotected intellectual property".
The US Copyright Office, in a 1,222-page report discussing federal copyright law, said that a "photograph taken by a monkey" is unprotected intellectual property.
"The Office will not register works produced by nature, animals, or plants. Likewise, the Office cannot register a work purportedly created by divine or supernatural beings, although the Office may register a work where the application or the deposit copy state that the work was inspired by a divine spirit," said the draft report, "Compendium of US Copyright Office Practices, Third Edition."
Update: PETA has filed a lawsuit on behalf of the monkey photographer, seeking to award the copyright and any sales proceeds to the monkey. Alt headline: PETA Thinks Famous Monkey Photographer Is Too Stupid To Manage Own Money.
Alan Taylor has concluded his 10-part series on WWI over at In Focus with a look at the present-day effects of the war. If you haven't been following along, it's worth starting at the beginning and working your way through.
Also worth a look is the NY Times' interactive package about the war.
Apple is stopping development of Aperture and iPhoto in favor of its new Photos app.
"With the introduction of the new Photos app and iCloud Photo Library, enabling you to safely store all of your photos in iCloud and access them from anywhere, there will be no new development of Aperture," said Apple in a statement provided to The Loop. "When Photos for OS X ships next year, users will be able to migrate their existing Aperture libraries to Photos for OS."
I wonder if the Photos app will be geared at all towards semi-pro/pro photographers or if they've permanently ceded that market to Lightroom.
Beginning in 1991, Zed Nelson took a photo of the same family (father, mother, and son) in front of the same backdrop every year for 21 years. Here's the first photo:
And the most recent one:
There are many more such projects, including the Goldberg family's annual portraits, Nicholas Nixon's annual portraits of The Brown Sisters, and Noah Kalina's Everyday.
From Bernhard Lang, aerial photos of the largest made-made hole in Europe, the Hambach Mine in Germany. The mine was started in 1978, is 1150 feet deep, and will eventually encompass an area of over 32 square miles. Here's the mine on Google Maps; it's huge.
That's a photo of one of the massive mining machines used to extract lignite (aka "brown coal") from the mine. The machines are almost 800 feet long and 315 feet high...those yellow specks to the right of the machine are likely fairly sizable construction trucks. (via co.exist)
You've probably seen Bruce Davidson's photos of the gritty 1980s NYC subway, which were collected into a book published in 1986.
Earlier this year, Time posted some previously unpublished photos of the NYC subway taken in 1981 by Christopher Morris, an admirer of Davidson's.
The NY Times has a bunch of photos by Seth Casteel of babies undergoing infant survival swim training.
Zoe was being introduced to "self-rescue," in which babies are taught to hold their breath underwater, kick their feet, turn over to float on their backs and rest until help arrives.
The self-rescue idea is pretty amazing. You take kids who can't talk and can barely walk and teach them how to float on their backs. I didn't really believe it until I saw it:
Bonus summer PSA: drowning doesn't look like drowning.
I've seen the waterfalls and the hot springs and the rocky desolation, but I didn't know that Iceland was also this:
I mean, come on. Photos by Max Rive, Menno Schaefer, and Johnathan Esper. Many more here. (via mr)
The IPPAWARDS has been judging an iPhone photography competition since 2007 and they recently announced the winners of their 2014 competition.
Impressive stuff. I've been saying recently that the iPhone 5s is the best camera in the world. Looking back on the 2008 winners, it becomes apparent how much more comfortable photographers have become wielding this increasingly powerful device. (via the verge)
Speaking of WWI, the landscape of the Western Front in Europe still shows the scars from the war 100 years on.
The latest installment of the In Focus series on WWI is Aerial Warfare.
Great series so far, really enjoying it. Start from the beginning if you haven't seen it yet.
Photographer Alec Soth is interviewed by his young son Gus about his job, art, and leaving his family for work.
This is completely charming and awesome and heartbreaking. (via @polan)
Clayton Cubitt took photographs of The Beautifully Frightful Wooden Children of Gehard Demetz, now on display at Jack Shainman Gallery in Chelsea. From the gallery's description of the project:
With impeccable craftsmanship, Demetz builds figures and reliefs of children and rural, often religious, architectural forms. While his subjects often take the forms of adolescent or very young children who are at the precipice of self-realization, their grave expressions and powerful stances suggest something much less innocent than their ages might suggest. Situated on plinths, these life-size works are elevated above their natural stature, allowing them to confront adults at eye level with a fierce or introspective gaze far beyond their years. Rather than being carved from a single large block of wood, these sculptures are built up from smaller rectangular units-mimicking classic building blocks-with gaps in their structures like pieces missing from their bodies or lost fragments of their being.
Back in January, an astronaut on the International Space Station took this photograph of the Korean Peninsula, which shows the stark difference in nighttime light levels in North Korea compared to the neighboring countries of South Korea and China.
I remember seeing a satellite photo several years ago, thought it was fake, then heard it had been photoshopped to accentuate the darkness, and dismissed the whole thing as a hoax. I can't believe the whole country is that dark. (via in focus)
From Annalisa Hartlaub, a series of self-portraits portraying "culture and counterculture for the past 10 decades". Here is her representation of the 1960s (culture on the left, counterculture on the right):