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kottke.org posts about photography

The Winners of the BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition for 2021

posted by Jason Kottke   Jun 02, 2021

a school of barracuda

leafcutter ant carrying a leaf

a swarm of baby spiders and their mother

The California Academy of Sciences has announced the winners (and finalists) of their BigPicture Natural World Photography Competition for 2021. I’ve included a few favorites above: barracuda by Yung-Sen Wu, leafcutter ants by Petr Bambousek, and lynx spiders by Lung-Tsai Wang. See all of the winners and finalists here. (via in focus)

Trillions and Trillions and Trillions of Stars

posted by Jason Kottke   May 24, 2021

photo of a cluster of galaxies

This is a photo of a tiny tiny snippet of the universe, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. Every object you see in the photo is a staggeringly massive galaxy that contains hundreds of billions of stars along with all sort of other things.

Our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is well over one hundred thousand light years across. We only see a pitiful portion of it. Although it contains several hundred billion stars in its expanse, we can only see a fraction of a fraction of them.

And even that doesn’t fully capture the essence of a galaxy, which also has planets, gas, dust, dark matter, and more. Galaxies are colossal objects, their true nature only becoming apparent to us a century ago.

I know I’ve posted photos like this before, but every time I see something like this, my mind boggles anew at the sheer scale and magnitude of it all and I just have to share it.

P.S. And Earth contains the only sentient life in the entire universe? Lol.

100 Visions of Motherhood

posted by Jason Kottke   May 21, 2021

a woman raises a smiling child in the air

a woman carrying two children

a very fashionable woman poses next to an equally fashionable girl

Curated by The Luupe, this is “a collection of photographs and words celebrating the complexities of motherhood”. And somehow even 100 photographs don’t adequately capture the vast experience of motherhood around the world. Photos above by Dee Williams, Brittany Marcoux, Diane Allford (via storythings)

The Micrometeorites All Around Us

posted by Jason Kottke   May 20, 2021

microscopic photo of a micrometeorite

microscopic photo of a micrometeorite

microscopic photo of a micrometeorite

microscopic photo of a micrometeorite

Jon Larsen collects and photographs micrometeorites from all over the world, finding them even in urban areas mixed in among terrestrial dust and dirt.

The cosmos is a swirling soup of stardust. Every day, approximately 60 tons of dust from asteroids, comets, and other celestial bodies fall to the Earth. These tiny metallic, alien stones of various shapes, textures, and colors-known as micrometeorites-are some of the oldest pieces of matter in the solar system.

Even though micrometeorites blanket the Earth, scientists have generally only been able to discover them in remote places devoid of human presence, such as Antarctic ice, desolate deserts, and deep-sea sediments. Scientists began searching for micrometeorites in the 1960s, and they predominantly thought the extraterrestrial dust would be impossible to find in urban environments. The conventional wisdom held that densely populated areas had too much man-made sediment that camouflaged the tiny space particles.

But Jon Larsen, a Norwegian jazz musician and creator of Project Stardust, was able to show that it is possible to find micrometeorites in more populated areas. In a study published in January 2017 in the journal Geology, he and his colleagues catalogued more than 500 lustrous micrometeorites (and counting), all recovered from rooftops in urban areas.

Check out Larsen’s Project Stardust for more photos and information on how to hunt for your own. (via the kid should see this)

West Texas Thunderstorm

posted by Jason Kottke   May 18, 2021

a colorful West Texas storm cloud

Photo by Laura Rowe. Wow. Evocative of Milton Glaser’s Bob Dylan poster. (via @mathowie)

Fauxliage - Disguised Cell Phone Towers

posted by Jason Kottke   May 14, 2021

disguised cell phone towers

disguised cell phone towers

disguised cell phone towers

For the past several years, Annette LeMay Burke has been traveling the American West in search of disguised cell phone towers, collected in a project she calls Fauxliage.

As disguised cell phone towers proliferate, I find it ironic that instead of providing camouflage, their disguises actually unmask their true identities. The towers have an array of creative concealments. They often impersonate trees such as evergreens, palms, and saguaros. Some pillars serve other uses such as flagpoles or iconographic church crosses. Generally the towers are just simulacra. They are water towers that hold no water, windmills that provide no power, and trees that provide no oxygen. Yet they all provide five bars of service.

The photos are also available in book form. (via the morning news)

Sports From Above

posted by Jason Kottke   May 10, 2021

aerial view of a ballet dancer

aerial view of gymnasts

aerial view of synchronized swimmers

aerial view of a tennis player

Photographer Brad Walls (Insta) makes aerial photos of people playing sports, providing a new angle on the actions of divers, gymnasts, tennis players, synchronized swimmers, and figure skaters. (via petapixel)

Half-Renovated Houses

posted by Jason Kottke   May 10, 2021

half-renovated houses

half-renovated houses

half-renovated houses

When the mining industry declined in the Ruhr region of Germany, workers began selling their houses…but only half of them. Colossal explains:

When the once burgeoning coal industry in Ruhrgebiet, Germany, began to decline, many of the workers’ apartments were sold off. Oftentimes, new owners only purchased half of the building — miners maintained a lifelong right of residence to their quarters — creating a stark split between the left and right sides of the structure.

Photographer Wolfgang Fröhling documented a number of these split-personality houses where the two sides of the buildings have diverged post-sale, a particularly stark representation of gentrification.

Let’s Bask in This Photo of the Sun

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 27, 2021

The Sun

Astrophotography enthusiast Andrew McCarthy took a 140-megapixel photo of the Sun yesterday and, gosh, the Sun is just so cool to look at. I don’t know if you can see it above, but there’s a little something hidden in the photo, a transiting ISS:

The ISS transiting the Sun

The full-size image is available to McCarthy’s supporters on Patreon.

50 Lovingly Restored Photographs of the Earth Taken by Apollo Astronauts

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 26, 2021

Earth Restored

Earth Restored

Earth Restored

Earth Restored

For his Earth Restored project, Toby Ord digitally remastered 50 photographs of the whole Earth taken by Apollo astronauts during their missions in the 60s and 70s.

The Apollo photographs are historic works of art. So in restoring them, I sought to bring out their own beauty. I refrained from recomposing the images by cropping, or trying to leave my own mark or interpretation. Perhaps in some cases this would make a more pleasing image, but it was not my aim.

And the Apollo photographs are also a scientific record of what our Earth looks like. In particular, what it would have looked like from the perspective of the astronaut taking the shot. So rather than pumping the saturation or adjusting the colours to what we think the Earth looks like, I wanted to allow us to learn from these photographs something about how it actually appears.

Many of these shots are new to me — the Apollo program and its scientific and cultural output continue to be revelatory 50 years later.

Update: Full resolution images are available when you click through on each photo. You may have to make your browser window wider to see the link. (thx, colin)

Winners of the 2021 World Press Photo Contest

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 16, 2021

2021 World Press Photo contest winner

2021 World Press Photo contest winner

The winners of the 2021 World Press Photo contests have been announced. Photos above (top to bottom) by Nadia Buzhan (of a woman waiting for her husband to be released from a detention center) and Luis Tato (of efforts to fight a locust invasion in Kenya). (via in focus)

Showcasing Women Street Photographers

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 30, 2021

Women Street Photographers

Women Street Photographers

Women Street Photographers

Women Street Photographers

Women Street Photographers started as an Instagram account founded by Gulnara Samoilova in 2017 but has since grown into a community with a website, exhibitions, and even a recently released book.

I pulled a tiny selection of photos featured on their Instagram — from top to bottom: Ora Buerkli, Laura Reid, Thouly Dosios, and Sonia Goydenko. (via colossal)

Portraits of New Yorkers in Their Apartments

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 25, 2021

Sally Davies

Sally Davies

For her forthcoming book New Yorkers, photographer Sally Davies (Instagram) captured portraits of people inside their NYC apartments. I love the creativity of these living spaces, many in styles you just do not see in contemporary design magazines. You can preorder New Yorkers at Bookshop.org — it comes out April 1.

NASA Tournament to Determine the Best Photo Taken from the ISS

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 19, 2021

photo taken from the ISS

photo taken from the ISS

NASA’s Earth Observatory is holding a single-elimination tournament to find the best photograph taken by an astronaut from the International Space Station. Round 2 is now underway, with 16 photos duking it out for the top spot. The winners are determined by public vote, so get in there and vote for your favorites! (via @thelastminute)

Tintype Portraits of the Cast of Little Women

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 17, 2021

Little Women tintype portrait

Little Women tintype portrait

Little Women tintype portrait

Photographer Wilson Webb made these great tintype portraits of the cast of Little Women. Invented in 1851, the collodion process would have been in use during the time the movie takes place. You can read about Webb’s process at PetaPixel.

To capture the actual portraits, Webb got his hands on a 130-year-old Dallmeyer lens that he strapped to a modern large format camera, and set up 25,000 Watt-seconds worth of flash to ensure he had enough light. That’s… a lot of light. So much that Webb says his subjects “can feel a wave of heat and they can also smell the ozone that’s created when the picture’s taken.”

But despite all of this light — which allowed him to capture a much faster “shutter speed” than traditional wet plates — he still had the cast pose in a traditional fashion: facing the camera, stoic expression, sitting still for 30 seconds at a time to capture each individual frame.

You can check out the whole series of portraits at My Modern Met.

Vivid Images by Noe Alonzo

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 10, 2021

Noe Alonzo

Noe Alonzo

Digging this work from Noe Alonzo. The top image is from his Anime World project and the bottom from a collection of Blade Runner-esque images shot at night. His images are obviously heavily processed — he offers tutorials on his YouTube channel — but what photos aren’t? Very little comes out of the camera looking amazing, which was as true in Ansel Adams’ day as it is today. (thx, @thelastminute)

The Winners of the 2020 World Nature Photography Awards

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 09, 2021

winner of the 2020 World Nature Photography Awards

winner of the 2020 World Nature Photography Awards

The World Nature Photography Awards have announced the winners of their 2020 competition. Thomas Vijayan’s photo of an orangutan (top) won the overall prize and I enjoyed the optical illusion created by Naomi Rose (bottom). You can see the rest of the winners in several different categories here. (via in focus)

Colorful Floral Printing on Hair

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 04, 2021

floral printing on hair

floral printing on hair

floral printing on hair

After many years of experimentation, Spanish hairdresser Alexis Ferrer has developed a process for vibrant, full-color printing onto hair extensions, culminating in his recent collection, La Favorite (photographed by Rafael Andreu on model Emma Fuhrmann).1

  1. Sidebar: why is it always so difficult to find out who the models are in fashion shoots like this? The articles and Instagram posts list the photographer, the stylist, the makeup artist, the assistant, and even the clothing brands but almost never the person actually being photographed (unless they are famous). Is Fuhrmann not an equal participant in the process of getting these photos just right? Seems retrograde.

Starlings Form Murmuration in the Shape of a Huge Bird

posted by Jason Kottke   Mar 04, 2021

Photographer James Crombie and his friend Colin Hogg captured an amazing moment over Lough Ennell in County Westmeath, Ireland on Tuesday: a murmuration of starlings that, for a split second, looked like a huge bird. Crombie took the photo and Hogg the video:

Murmuration Bird Shape

Crombie made, he thinks, about 50 trips to Lough Ennell in the past few months. “I’m usually a sports photographer, so for a while I’ve had a bit of time to think about other things. I had an image in my head,” he explains. “I could see they were making shapes. I kept going back, to get the image I had in my head.”

Finally, at about 6pm on Tuesday, Crombie focused his Canon EOS-1D X Mark III and got the image he wanted. That night alone he shot between 400 and 500 frames before capturing this unforgettable photograph. “It paid off,” he says.

I know there has to be a word for a collection of things that looks like an individual member of the group (like the school of fish in Finding Nemo) but I can’t find it right now. Anyone know? Or have a good suggestion? (thx, aaron)

The Projection Booth

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 26, 2021

Projection is a short film by Joseph Holmes of clips from 50 different films that take place in movie theater projection rooms. This supercut was made to accompany Holmes’ series The Booth, a collection of photos from 2012 that document the disappearing/changing movie theater projection rooms.

Joe Holmes, The Booth

Joe Holmes, The Booth

Earth at a Cute Angle

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 11, 2021

low-angle satellite image of the Hoover Dam

low-angle satellite of Paris

As previously documented, I am a big fan of satellite images taken from a low angle. Planet Labs’ Robert Simmon wrote a post that talks about the history and uses of low-angle satellite imaging and shares many examples (like the two above of the Hoover Dam and Paris).

Winners of the 2021 Underwater Photographer of the Year Contest

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 10, 2021

2021 Underwater Photographer of the Year

2021 Underwater Photographer of the Year

2021 Underwater Photographer of the Year

The winners of the Underwater Photographer of the Year 2021 have been announced. I picked a few of my favorites and you can see more from In Focus. Photos above from top to bottom: ManBd, Jack Berthomier, and Oleg Gaponyuk.

The Folded Map Project

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 09, 2021

Folded Map Project

With regard to the Chicago’s street numbering system, Madison Street is the boundary between the North and South Sides of Chicago. Because of discriminatory housing policies and practices, especially during the Great Migration, Chicago is one of the most segregated cities in America. Generally speaking, a predominantly white North Side has had better access to resources and higher home values while a largely Black South Side has had lower home values and less access to resources.

Artist Tonika Johnson’s Folded Map Project explores the differences and similarities across this boundary by comparing an addresses on the North Side with the corresponding addresses on the South Side. She does this through paired photos of the houses and the residents living at each twinned address, and video interviews with those “map twin” residents, as well as a movie, an installation, workshops, and even a stage play. The image at the top of the post is of one of the address pairs (6329 S. Paulina and 6330 N. Paulina).

Colossal recently posted an interview with Johnson about the project:

The ultimate point that I was trying to get across was that Chicago’s history of segregation is still with all of us today. I wanted to prove this point for people who might not make that connection [between] the disparity that exists and the history behind it. I wanted the project to be an entree into expanding people’s minds of Chicago’s history of segregation through thinking about their own lived experience. I really appreciated being able to do that through art, through photos and portraits and video because I wasn’t blaming people who live on these different sides. I was offering them insight into the larger question of, “did you really choose this? Does our segregation reflect how we want to interact? And if it doesn’t, then you have to question why is it this way?”

There is this narrative that people think [Chicagoans] don’t interact. But we do, a lot, especially through art. That’s how we know the city is segregated. (laughing) We know that we’re disrupting this segregation when we come together. And that’s why I think art is such a beautiful common denominator.

This New 10 Terapixel Image of the Night Sky Contains 1 Billion Galaxies

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 08, 2021

portion of a 10 terapixel image of the night sky

After 1405 nights of observation over 6 years, astronomers at three observatories have produced an image of the night sky that contains 10 trillion pixels of data and depicts over a billion galaxies. Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait has the details.

It’s the result of the DESI Legacy Imagining Surveys, maps of the sky made by the three observatories (the Dark Energy Camera Legacy Survey, the Beijing-Arizona Sky Survey, and the Mayall z-band Legacy Survey, in combination with the orbiting WISE infrared observatory). They mapped the northern sky in seven colors, covering a third of the entire sky — 14,000 square degrees, or the equivalent area of 70,000 full Moons on the sky.

The ultimate goal is to better understand dark energy, the mysterious substance that’s accelerating the expansion of the Universe, by looking at the distribution of galaxies throughout the Universe. They’ll do that by picking tens of millions of the billion galaxies in the data and getting follow-up observations with the Dark Energy Spectroscopic Instrument (DESI), which will take spectra of those galaxies and find their distances.

Since we’ll know their positions on the sky, and their distances, this will make a 3D map of the Universe larger than any ever before.

The photo included at the top of the post is just a tiny tiny bit of the full image — you can pan and zoom the whole thing in this viewer. Be sure to zoom out in increments from the default view so as to fully appreciate just how absurdly large this image (and the universe) is.

Last Night’s Northern Lights

posted by Jason Kottke   Feb 03, 2021

aurora borealis

aurora borealis

aurora borealis

The aurora borealis was amazing last night in Norway. The top photo is from Markus Varik and the bottom two are from Marianne Bergli, who runs a company that offers tours of the aurora. (via @AvatarDomy)

The Year in Photos 2020

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 22, 2020

The Year in Photos 2020

The Year in Photos 2020

The Year in Photos 2020

The Year in Photos 2020

The Year in Photos 2020

The Year in Photos 2020

The Year in Photos 2020

How will we remember this pivotal year in human history? Many of us won’t want to, but in doing so we risk repeating what got us into this mess in the first place. Photography is always a powerful way to document events and this year was particularly suited to it: these photos vividly tell the story of 2020. You can check out many more of them here:

The embedded photos above, from top to bottom: Black Lives Matter protests by Dai Sugano, hospital staff by Sarah Lawrence, Black Lives Matter protests by Matt Rourke, empty grocery shelves by Justin Sullivan, Black Lives Matter protests by David Dee Delgado, California wildfires by Noah Berger, Covid-19 vaccine by Graeme Robertson.

By An Eye-Witness

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 21, 2020

(Note: The images below depict simulated violent death.) By An Eye-Witness is an arresting series of images by Azadeh Akhlaghi that recreate seventeen prominent deaths from Iran’s history. According to this interview, Akhlaghi was inspired by post-election uprisings in Iran and Arab Spring to document these deaths.

Eiferman: How was this like shooting a movie?

Akhlaghi: After three years of research by myself, I found a producer and then a crew. We had one month for pre-production and 20 days to shoot all 17 pictures, so we had to be very quick, with only one day to shoot each picture. We had a very low budget so we couldn’t hire actors, and we mostly used friends or extras. But like a movie, I had a professional team with a make-up artist, set designer, assistant director, and everything.

Eiferman: You have a lot of experience in filmmaking; why did you choose to do this series as photographs?

Akhlaghi: I worked as an assistant director for a few years, yes. But I thought staged photography would be closer to the idea of art I had in mind. I was heavily influenced by old paintings but the narrative techniques are borrowed from my old engagement with cinema and literature.

Azadeh Akhlaghi

Azadeh Akhlaghi

Azadeh Akhlaghi

Weathering Time: Nancy Floyd’s Anti-Perfectionist Selfies

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 18, 2020

Since 1982, Nancy Floyd has regularly been taking photos of herself around the house and now she’s compiled 1200 of them into a book called Weathering Time, “a meditation on the passage of time, loss and the ageing female body”.

Weathering Time

Johanna Fateman wrote about the project for the New Yorker:

Floyd began the undertaking in 1982, at the age of twenty-five, as a recent graduate of the University of Texas at Austin. Each morning, she’d capture herself in a full-length shot, with her camera set up on a tripod in the corner of her room. Her aim, at the start, was to keep up the daily ritual for twenty years, in order to observe herself aging. At first, on days when she skipped taking a photo, she advanced the film in her camera, leaving a blank when she processed the roll. But, as the project continued, she ended up skipping weeks, entire months, a good chunk of the nineties. Over the years, she moved the tripod around, from room to room, from house to house, outdoors, and around the world; she included family members and pets in her pictures. The metamorphosis or decline of her own body turned out to be, it seems, less interesting than — or inextricable from — the major events, changing backdrops, and interdependent relationships that made up her life.

Amazing project. (via noah kalina)

In Flight

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 17, 2020

photo of a bird in flight

photo of a bird in flight

Those are just a couple of the shots of birds in the air from Mark Harvey’s In Flight series. I love that top photo — I don’t know if those feathers are translucent or if it just appears that way because of the sky color. You can see more of Harvey’s photography on his website, at Instagram, and at Colossal.

Private Views

posted by Jason Kottke   Dec 17, 2020

Private Views

Private Views

Posing as young apartment-hunting Hungarian billionaire, artist Andi Schmied was able to gain access to more than two dozen luxury apartments in Manhattan and photograph the views from them. The resulting project is called Private Views and you can see some of her photos in this portfolio. Christopher Bonanos interviewed Schmied about the project for Curbed. Regarding the banal sameness of rich people things:

Did you discover anything interesting about the apartments themselves?

They are all the same! I mean, really! For example, the layout of the apartments are essentially identical. You enter, and there’s a main view, always from the living room — in the case of Billionaires’ Row, everything’s facing the park. The second-best view is from the master bedroom, which is usually the corner. Then there’s the countertop, which usually a kitchen island in the middle, and there’s different types of marble but there’s always marble — Calacatta Tucci, or Noir St. Laurent, or Chinchilla Mink, and they always tell you, “It’s the best of the best,” from a hidden corner of the planet where they hand-selected the most incredible pieces. After five of these, it’s incredibly similar, all of them. Also they put a lot of emphasis on naming the designer.

The branding.

Yes. And there’s a big competition for amenities, who has the craziest amenities. Of course there’s the pool and all of that, but one of the newest things in the past two years in every single development is the golf-simulator room - it’s just the standard now.

Private Views is performance art as much as it is about photography and architecture. I love the details about how she conned her way into these buildings by using the eagerness of real estate brokers against them.

But after a while I realized that it absolutely doesn’t matter what I wear: From their point of view, you’ve passed the access, and you can do anything — anything is believable. For example, all the pictures were taken with a film camera, which is [gestures broadly] this big. I’d just ask, “Can I take some pictures for my husband?” which is a very obvious and normal thing to do. There were a few agents who noticed that it was a film camera, not a digital camera, and those who noticed asked, “Oh, wow, is it film?” And I’d always say something like, “Oh, my grandfather gave it to me — to record all the special moments in my life.” And they’d just put me in this box of “artsy billionaire,” and would start to talk to me about MoMA’s latest collection. So anything goes.

For a taste of the real estate banter, you can watch videos that Schmied recorded of her visits in a talk she gave early last year. Schmied is crowdfunding a book based on the project — you can back it here.