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kottke.org posts about photography

Sunburn Photographic Printing

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 27, 2023

an arm with a photo 'sunburnt' onto it with a UV light

a person's back with a photo 'sunburnt' onto it with a UV light

a person's stomach with a photo 'sunburnt' onto it with a UV light

For his project Illustrated People, Thomas Mailaender imprinted photographic images onto people’s skin by shining a UV light through negatives. The visual effect created is not unlike that of a sunburn but it goes away as soon as the skin is exposed to light. I wonder…does it hurt like a sunburn?

The Minimalist Photography Awards for 2022

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 25, 2023

a murmuration of starlings

a red and gray building with a cloud

two sets of footprints come together in the sand and then diverge again

a dark road disappears into a cloud in the distance

Some really nice work amongst the winners and runners up of the Minimalist Photography Awards for 2022. I’ve included a few favorites of mine above (from top to bottom: Daniel Dencescu, Gleici Rufatto, Julie Kenny, and Alexandre Caetano).

Light Painted Landscapes

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 25, 2023

a bright circle of light over a rocky desert landscape

bright diagonal lines of light over a rocky desert landscape

It’s been a bit since we’ve checked in on artist Reuben Wu, who uses drones to paint (sculpt?) with light in the sky over dark landscapes. Most of his recent stuff seems to be video on his Instagram account but I pulled a couple of photos of his that I haven’t featured before. Always inspiring stuff worth exploring.

How to Find the Rare Green Comet in the Night Skies

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 24, 2023

photo of Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF)

A comet called Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is currently visible in northern skies with the naked eye and here’s how you can catch a glimpse for yourself.

Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) is currently making its way through the northern skies and should reach its brightest magnitude in early February, according to In-The-Sky.org as it approaches perigee on Feb. 1. To see the comet for yourself, look to the north just after sunset and look for a faint greenish glow. Under the right dark sky conditions, the comet could be visible to the unaided eye, but binoculars will certainly make the job easier.

The comet last visited the Earth about 50,000 years ago and this may be its last visit before it leaves the solar system for good. The unusual green color results from a rare chemical reaction:

The comet itself isn’t green, but its head does appear to glow green thanks to a somewhat rare chemical reaction. The glow likely comes from diatomic carbon (C2) — a simple molecule made of two carbon atoms bonded together. When ultraviolet light from the sun breaks this molecule down, it emits a greenish glow that can last for several days, according to a 2021 study in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

This eerie light disappears before making its way to the comet’s tail, or coma, which is made of gas. That gas is once again a result of solar radiation - in this case, sunlight causes part of the comet to sublimate, or transition from a solid into a gas without entering a liquid state. That gas streaks behind the comet, often glowing blue from the ultraviolet light.

The best, brightest views of the comet will be right around Feb 1, when it will be near the constellation Camelopardalis (almost due north, in the general vicinity of the Big and Little Dippers) right after sunset — use an app like Sky Guide to help find it. It’s cloudy here in Vermont until Friday…I’m going to try to catch a glimpse of it then.

Amazing photo of Comet C/2022 E3 (ZTF) above by Dan Bartlett.

Magnificent Black & White Photos of the Earth Rising Over the Moon

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 20, 2023

black and white photo of the Earth rising over the surface of the Moon

black and white photo of the Earth rising over the surface of the Moon

South Korea currently has a probe called Danuri orbiting the Moon at an altitude of about 62 miles above the surface. It’s just begun its mission but has already sent back some black & white photos of the Moon and the Earth, including the two above. Over at EarthSky, Dave Adalian says these shots “rival the work of legendary nature photographer Ansel Adams” and it’s difficult to disagree.

Also worth a look: Danuri’s shot of the Earth and Moon from a distance, hanging in the blackness of space like a pair of pearls. (via petapixel)

Tiny Seawater Worlds

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 19, 2023

tiny plankton in a drop of seawater

tiny plankton in a drop of seawater

Smithsonian Magazine is featuring some incredible photos from Angel Fitor’s SeaDrops project: microphotography of tiny plankton-populated worlds contained in drops of seawater.

It took Fitor three years of surgically precise work to get the jewel-like images you see here. First, he would take a boat out on the Mediterranean Sea and dive in to collect water samples, usually 30 to 50 feet below the surface. He’d bring the samples straight back to his home studio in the coastal village of Alicante, south of Valencia on Spain’s eastern coast. Then he’d get straight to work: When copepods die, they quickly lose their color and look like dull brown beetles. Fitor wanted to capture the vivid blues and golds of the living organisms, and he wanted to show them in action just as he does when he photographs any other marine animal.

You can check out more of Fitor’s work on Instagram and his website.

Glendalis: The Life and World of a Youngest Daughter

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 18, 2023

a young girl in a white hat poses next to a car with flames painted on the hood

For 10 years beginning in the late 90s, photographer Angela Cappetta captured the goings-on of a multi-generational Puerto Rican family living on NYC’s Lower East Side, focusing particularly on the youngest daughter, Glendalis. From a recent piece in the New Yorker by Ana Karina Zatarain:

The neighborhood was different then. During those years, just before a fierce wave of gentrification hit the area, the photographer Angela Cappetta often rose at dawn to roam the streets, a Fuji 6x9 camera in hand. (“I still use it,” she told me. “It looks fake, like a toy.”) It was on one of those mornings that Cappetta encountered a clan that reminded her of her own upbringing, within a multigenerational family of Italian immigrants, in Connecticut. As a child, Cappetta was shepherded among various homes by aunts, uncles, and older cousins-a constant and frenetic flow of relatives. The family she met that day, Puerto Rican New Yorkers living on multiple floors of a tenement building on Stanton Street, had a similar dynamic. Instinctively, she began placing each member in their role. “I looked at this beatific, beautiful family, and I thought, Yeah, I relate to this,” she recalled.

A Bonkers Highway Interchange

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 12, 2023

Well, would you look at this great photo by Rob Antill of the amazing Takaosan Interchange located in Sagamihara, Japan. It’s like Bézier curves meets highway engineering meets Euler’s Seven Bridges of Königsberg meets Mr. Messy.

See also Aerial Photos Reveal the Sculptural Beauty of Japanese Highway Interchanges, Crazy Whirlpool Traffic Interchange in Dubai, and The Flipper Bridge.

A Collection of Sidewalk Stamps

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 11, 2023

a sidewalk stamps that reads 'Jeffrey & Bufton 1910'

a sidewalk stamps that reads 'The Hinchman Renton Co. Denver'

a sidewalk stamps that reads 'Carelli Concrete Const. Co. 1957'

Written in Stone is a collection of photos of stamps and seals imprinted in sidewalks by the people and companies who made them. Great examples of vernacular design.

Update: See also Easy Bay Sidewalk Stamps. (via @presentcorrect)

The Winners of the 2022 Close-Up Photographer of the Year Awards

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 06, 2023

an insect eats holes in a leaf

a white bird stares straight into the camera

three tiny fungi perch on a thorn

a spider rests on top of water below some trees

The results of the 4th annual Close-Up Photographer of the Year competition have been announced and you can take a look at the top 100 images right here. I’ve included a few of my favorites above from photographers Minghui Yuan, Alex Pansier, Andy Sands, and Szűcs Boldizsár. (thx, jodi)

Winners of the 2022 BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition

posted by Jason Kottke   Jan 04, 2023

a ball of bumble bees

a mud-covered crocodile sits nearly unseen in the mud

a white stoat leaps in the snow

surrounded by trees, a back-lit bat flies in the night sky

an abstract and colorful swirl of algae

The annual BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition put on by the California Academy of Sciences has announced the winners of the 2022 competition. As usual, I have selected a few of my favorites and included them above; photos by Karine Aigner, Jens Cullmann, Jose Grandio, Sitaram Raul, and Sergio Tapia.

Winners of the 2022 Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 22, 2022

a raccoon, waving

one penguin gesturing to another, as if to say 'talk to the hand'

a salmon hitting a bear upside the head

a bird chasing a bull from behind so that it looks like Pegasus

The annual Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards are always a good time and 2022’s competition is no exception. You can peruse the winners and the finalists here. My favorites above are by (from top to bottom) Miroslav Srb, Jennifer Hadley, John Chaney, and Jagdeep Rajput, whose photo captures the wingspan of the sarus crane, the tallest flying bird in the world (up to 5’11”, which is almost as tall as I am!)

A Tour of Legendary Club CBGBs by Photographer David Godlis

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 19, 2022

A short animated film about photographer David Godlis, who documented the glory days of CBGB, ground zero for the punk & new wave scene in the late 1970s.

Between 1976 and 1980, young Manhattan photographer David Godlis documented the nightly goings-on at the Bowery’s legendary CBGB, “the undisputed birthplace of punk rock,” with a vividly distinctive style of night photography.

You can check out some of Godlis’s photos on his website. (via open culture)

Some of the Best Moon & Earth Photos from NASA’s Artemis I Mission

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 13, 2022

photo of the Moon and Earth with the Artemis I spacecraft in the foreground

photo of the Moon and Earth with the Artemis I spacecraft in the foreground

close-up of the lunar surface

photo of the Earth with the Artemis I spacecraft in the foreground

close-up of the lunar surface

photo of the Moon with the Artemis I spacecraft in the foreground

photo of the Moon and Earth with the Artemis I spacecraft in the foreground

Over the weekend, NASA’s Artemis I mission returned from a 25-day trip to the Moon. The mission was a test-run of the rockets, systems, and spacecraft that will return humans to the surface of the Moon. Visual imaging has been an integral part of even the earliest space missions — strap a camera to a spacecraft, let the people see what space looks like, and they will be inspired. Well, the photographs returned by Artemis I’s Orion spacecraft have certainly been inspirational. Working from NASA’s archive of images (on Flickr too), I’ve selected some of the most interesting and dramatic photos from the mission. The one at the top, showing a crescent Earth rising over the Moon’s surface, might be one of my favorite space photos ever (and that’s really saying something) — you can see a bigger version of it here.

Genetic Portraits: Split Multi-Generational Portraits of Family Members

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 13, 2022

Genetic Portraits

Genetic Portraits

Genetic Portraits

I’m not going to actually look, but I’ve probably featured Ulric Collette’s series Genetic Portraits here before. Collette photographed family members in the same pose and then digitally stitched them together. The resemblances and differences between family members are fascinating. (via jenni leder)

Update: A similar series by Bobby Neel Adams. (via @geedix)

Update: See also these similar paintings by Daevid Anderson.

Flamingos From Above

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 08, 2022

a flock of flamingos from overhead

a flock of flamingos from overhead

The flamingo’s vibrant color makes it a particularly striking bird to take photographs of, especially from the air — the pink really pops against the dark background of the water. Photographer Raj Mohan showcases this in his beautiful photos of flamingos at Pulicat Lake in India.

The annual flamingo festival is held in the month of January, and it is said that about 18 to 20 flamingo groups are distributed across the lake with each group having 700 to 800 birds. This pink flock congregation makes lake Pulicat a pink heaven.

You might remember that flamingos get their pink color from eating halophile dunaliella salina algae and shrimp that feel on algae. (via colossal)

The Northern Lights Photographer of the Year for 2022

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 06, 2022

a photo of the northern lights

a photo of the northern lights

Science fiction and fantasy artists could labor for a thousand years and never come up with something as beautiful and unbelievable as the aurora borealis. Nature: still undefeated. Those two shots are from the 2022 Northern Lights Photographer of the Year awards — the top one was captured by Tor-Ivar Næss in Norway and the bottom one was taken in Denmark by Ruslan Merzlyakov.

20 Iconic Photos of the Climate Crisis

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 05, 2022

a massive icreberg threatens a Greenland village

golfer play in front of massive wildfires in the Pacific Northwest

sled dogs pull a sled through water in Greenland

Gabrielle Schwarz at The Guardian has gathered 20 of the most iconic and meaningful photographs of the effects of the climate crisis. Metaphors abound. I think often of Kristi McCluer’s photograph of the golfers casually playing a round in proximity to 2017 Eagle Creek fire in the Pacific Northwest. As David Simon said at the time, “In the pantheon of visual metaphors for America today, this is the money shot.” (Iceberg photo by Magnus Kristensen and sled dog photo by Steffen Olsen.)

How Postwar Italy Created The Paparazzi

posted by Jason Kottke   May 03, 2022

From film fan Benito Mussolini and the postwar explosion of Italian filmmaking to a financial rule with big effects and Federico Fellini’s La Dolce Vita, Evan Puschak tells the story of how the paparazzi was created.

The history of celebrity paparazzi disrupted the highly manicured image movie stars had enjoyed since the golden age of Hollywood. They brought these gods of our culture down to the messy earth. Interestingly though, this didn’t dampen our obsession with fame, as you might expect. No, it turbo charged it. Something about seeing our celebrities brought low — catching a glimpse of their flaws and pains — it didn’t push the famous off these weird pedestals we put them on. It only intensified our fixation with them.

Mars Helicopter Spots Perseverance Rover’s Landing Debris

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 28, 2022

wreckage from the landing of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars

wreckage from the landing of NASA's Perseverance rover on Mars

On the 26th flight of Ingenuity, NASA’s helicopter on Mars, it spotted and photographed the wreckage of the Perseverance rover’s landing gear, protective shell, and parachute. From a NY Times article on the photos:

“There’s definitely a sci-fi element to it,” Ian Clark, an engineer who worked on Perseverance’s parachute system, said of photographs released on Wednesday. “It exudes otherworldly, doesn’t it?”

Part of the reason NASA had Ingenuity go take a look is to see how all of that equipment held up during the landing process. Data from the photos will inform future missions.

“Perseverance had the best-documented Mars landing in history, with cameras showing everything from parachute inflation to touchdown,” said JPL’s Ian Clark, former Perseverance systems engineer and now Mars Sample Return ascent phase lead. “But Ingenuity’s images offer a different vantage point. If they either reinforce that our systems worked as we think they worked or provide even one dataset of engineering information we can use for Mars Sample Return planning, it will be amazing. And if not, the pictures are still phenomenal and inspiring.”

In the images of the upright backshell and the debris field that resulted from it impacting the surface at about 78 mph (126 kph), the backshell’s protective coating appears to have remained intact during Mars atmospheric entry. Many of the 80 high-strength suspension lines connecting the backshell to the parachute are visible and also appear intact. Spread out and covered in dust, only about a third of the orange-and-white parachute — at 70.5 feet (21.5 meters) wide, it was the biggest ever deployed on Mars — can be seen, but the canopy shows no signs of damage from the supersonic airflow during inflation. Several weeks of analysis will be needed for a more final verdict.

It is really remarkable, the images we’re seeing from Mars, taken by a robotic helicopter.

Clever Cutout Portraits

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 28, 2022

Rudy Willingham holds up paper cutouts of people (and Muppets!) against carefully chosen backgrounds and photographs the results, resulting in these witty portraits.

cutout portrait of Big Bird

cutout portrait of Beyonce

cutout portrait of Ruth Bader Ginsburg

cutout portrait of Prince

You can find more of Willingham’s work across his various social media platforms: website, Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and TikTok.

The Bagworm Caterpillar’s DIY Mobile Log Cabin

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 22, 2022

The bagworm caterpillar is quite the animal architect. In preparation for its transformation into a moth, the caterpillar builds itself a house that it carries around on its back out of materials it finds in its habitat, like sticks or leaves. When it enters the pupa stage, the caterpillar fastens the house to something solid and hunkers down inside.

a little house a bagworm caterpillar has built on its back out of twigs

a little house a bagworm caterpillar has built on its back out of twigs

a little house a bagworm caterpillar has built on its back out of twigs

I couldn’t source the top photo but the bottom two were taken by John Horstman, who has a bunch of incredible photos of bagworm caterpillar houses on Flickr. Nicky Bay has also taken many photos of bagworm caterpillar architecture.

The Best Photos From the Shot on iPhone Macro Challenge

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 21, 2022

dewdrops on a delicate spider web

closeup shot of the structure of a plant leaf

Apple recently announced the winners of a competition to highlight the best macro photos shot on the newest iPhones. Amazing photos from a phone. The camera is really the only reason I upgrade my iPhone every year…it just gets better and better.

Black Sun: Starling Murmurations

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 13, 2022

a large flock of starlings form a pattern in the sky

a large flock of starlings form a pattern in the sky

For his project Black Sun, Danish photographer Søren Solkær travelled all over Europe to capture the murmurations of migrating starlings.

The starlings move as one unified organism that vigorously opposes any outside threat. A strong visual expression is created — like that of an ink drawing or a calligraphic brush stroke — asserting itself against the sky. Shapes and black lines of condensation form within the swarm, resembling waves of interference or mathematical abstractions written across the horizon. At times the flock seems to possess the cohesive power of super fluids, changing shape in an endless flux: From geometric to organic, from solid to fluid, from matter to ethereal, from reality to dream — an exchange in which real time ceases to exist and mythical time pervades.

These photographs are also available on Instagram and in book form from Solkær’s website. (via ny times)

Alphabet Truck

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 07, 2022

Over a period of four years and after thousands of miles of driving, Eric Tabuchi photographed the backs of semi-trailers with letters of the alphabet on them, eventually compiling all 26 letters. Here’s the first dozen:

Alphabet Truck

(via present & correct)

Aerial Photos of Vast Solar Farms

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 05, 2022

a solar farm photographed from the air

a solar farm photographed from the air

a solar farm photographed from the air

For his Solar Power Series, photographer Tom Hegen aerially photographed solar power plants in France, Spain, and the US. It’s not an accident that some of these look like flowers and plants — the compact geometry to ideally capture solar power is similar in both instances.

In a single hour, the amount of power from the sun that strikes the Earth is more than the entire world consumes in a year. Having this in mind, renewable energy sources could be the key to combating climate change.

What does transforming towards more sustainable sources of energy look like?

(via colossal)

Overseen Text Messages

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 05, 2022

a photo of a text message chat between two people who miss each other

a photo of a text message chat about the future and strawberries

#nyc is photographer Jeff Mermelstein’s collection of photos he’s taken on the streets of NYC of text messages on people’s phone screens. From a review of the book at LensCulture:

At once detached and intimate, we are offered a collection of fragmentary texts that register the daily life events and feelings of a city’s occupants, a raw vox pop assortment of broken and interrupted and incomplete messages. We watch users reading, texting and even editing on their phones. There are texts about break ups, declarations of love, dreams, lusts, illnesses, affairs, abortion, pregnancy, death, sexual proclivities, money, as well as recipes, cooking, dirty shower curtains and roach traps. Some messages remain unfathomable and enigmatic: “The nun said, ‘That’s OK…”

I wonder about the privacy aspect of this, but it’s always fascinating to see how other people communicate.

The Highest Resolution Photo of the Sun Ever Taken

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 01, 2022

very high resolution image of the Sun

The European Space Agency’s Solar Orbiter recently took 25 images of the Sun from a distance of 46 million miles that, when stitched all together, form the highest resolution photo of the Sun (and its corona) ever created.

The high-resolution telescope of EUI takes pictures of such high spatial resolution that, at that close distance, a mosaic of 25 individual images is needed to cover the entire Sun. Taken one after the other, the full image was captured over a period of more than four hours because each tile takes about 10 minutes, including the time for the spacecraft to point from one segment to the next.

In total, the final image contains more than 83 million pixels in a 9148 x 9112 pixel grid. For comparison, this image has a resolution that is ten times better than what a 4K TV screen can display.

You can zoom in on the image here to see how remarkably detailed it is.

Cherry Blossoms at a Tea Plantation

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 30, 2022

overhead view of cherry trees blossoming at a tea plantation

Stunning drone photo of cherry trees blossoming at a tea plantation in Fujian, China taken by afun阿方. This looks like a still frame from an animated movie…just stunning.

Slime Molds!

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 28, 2022

macro photograph of slime molds

macro photograph of slime molds

macro photograph of slime molds

macro photograph of slime molds

I have been a fan of slime molds ever since I read about them in Steven Johnson’s Emergence; they are fascinating. From a NY Times excerpt of Johnson’s book:

The slime mold spends much of its life as thousands of distinct single-celled units, each moving separately from its other comrades. Under the right conditions, those myriad cells will coalesce again into a single, larger organism, which then begins its leisurely crawl across the garden floor, consuming rotting leaves and wood as it moves about. When the environment is less hospitable, the slime mold acts as a single organism; when the weather turns cooler and the mold enjoys a large food supply, “it” becomes a “they.” The slime mold oscillates between being a single creature and a swarm.

In his ongoing series of photographs, Barry Webb captures these bizarre and exotic creatures. Yet another example of not having to look off-world to find alien life. (via colossal)