Posts Tagged ‘photography’
Readers will remember Arthur Drooker, photographer-extraordinaire of conventioneers. His most recent foray will reassure those who’ve been worried at the prospect of a clown shortage, even as it horrifies those with coulrophobia… Drooker’s most recent stop in his quest to capture the best and most spirited conventions nationwide for his forthcoming book Conventional Wisdom was the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Northbrook, Illinois, where he dove into the annual gathering of the World Clown Association (WCA).
Read all about it, and see more of Drooker’s photos, at “Conventional Wisdom: World Clown Association.”
* Alfred Lord Tennyson
As we practice our pratfalls, we might recall that it was on this date in 1910 that President William Howard Taft inaugurated a long-standing tradition: he threw out the ceremonial first pitch in the baseball game that began the major league season.
Or, then again, maybe it can be…
Lori Nix has created a series of photos that show the mayhem behind the scenes at an imaginary natural history museum. Many of the scenes reveal back-room deceit, like the a T. rex skeleton built from a do-it-yourself kit (above), the half-made papier-mâché mastodon (below), and a family of beavers emerging from a crate marked “Product of Mexico.” There is plenty of dark humor, like a bucket of fried chicken left in an avian storage room, and a pack of tigers and lions prowling around the remains of an unlucky custodian. Ms. Nix, who assembled the foam-and-cardboard scenes in the living room of her Brooklyn apartment, was inspired by visits to the American Museum of Natural History. “I come from the Midwest, the land of hunting and fishing, where there is a culture of stuffing your prize game,” she said. As for her favorite exhibits, like the bison and the Alaskan brown bear: “I hope they never update them.”
Read more, and learn where to see her work here. And then visit the extraordinary Museum of Jurassic Technology… or if L.A. isn’t handy, read Lawrence Weschler’s extraordinary Mr. Wilson’s Cabinet of Wonder.)
* David Attenborough
As we look for our own inspiration, we might recall that it was on this date in 1869 that the American Museum of Natural history was incorporated. Its founding had been urged in a letter, dated December 30, 1868, and sent to Andrew H. Green, Comptroller of Central Park, New York, signed by 19 persons, including Theodore Roosevelt, A.G. Phelps Dodge, and J. Pierpont Morgan. They wrote: “A number of gentlemen having long desired that a great Museum of Natural History should be established in Central Park, and having now the opportunity of securing a rare and very valuable collection as a nucleus of such Museum, the undersigned wish to enquire if you are disposed to provide for its reception and development.” Their suggestion was accepted by Park officials; the collections were purchased– and thus the great museum began. It opened April 27, 1871.
In 2003, the Annals of Improbable Research released the results of a study that was not so much groundbreaking as it was ground-battering: Kansas, the tongue-in-cheek analysis found, was flatter than a pancake. The researchers Mark Fonstad, William Pugatch, and Brandon Vogt used polynomial equations to calculate the flatness of the famously flat state, and discovered that—as compared to the topography of an IHOP pancake—it was indeed flatter than a flapjack.
Their finding was not incorrect. Parts of Kansas are, in fact, flatter than a pancake! But the study’s focus on Kanas, it turns out, was also misleading. Because there are states—six of them, to be specific—that are even flatter than Kansas. The states flatter than a pancake, you could say, could be served in a short stack.
This latest flatness finding comes courtesy of geographers at the University of Kansas, who just published a paper, “The Flatness of U.S. States,” inGeographical Review, a peer-reviewed journal published by the American Geographical Society…
The top 10 flattest states, per their results? [Results charted on the map above differ as they reflect a slightly different analysis; c.f., the link below.]
* Turkish proverb
As we reach for the maple syrup, we might send lofty birthday greetings to Albert William Stevens; he was born on this date in 1886. An career officer in the U.S. Army Air Corps. Stevens was a pioneering balloonist and aerial photographer who took the first photograph clearly showing the Earth’s curvature (1930) and the first photographs of the Moon’s shadow on the Earth during a solar eclipse (1932). In 1935 Stevens and a colleague made a record balloon ascent near Rapid City, South Dakota. 20,000 watched– and millions listened to a live NBC broadcast– as their sealed gondola, Explorer II, climbed to 72,395 feet, nearly 14 miles, a record that stood until 1956.
“So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them”*…
Given how most people take selfies, you’d probably think it was some 1990s teenage girl armed with an early Kodak digicam, or maybe a group of late-1960s flower children armed with a Polaroid camera. But no, 21st-century-style selfies are actually an early 20th-century affair. In fact, this photograph taken in December in 1920 might be the first modern selfie…
Snapped in New York on the roof of the Marceau Studio on Fifth Avenue, across the street from St. Patrick’s Cathedral, this picture features five mustached photographers holding an antediluvian analog camera at arm’s length. Because this camera would have been too heavy to hold with one hand, Joseph Byron is propping it up on the left, with his colleague Ben Falk holding it on the right. In the middle, you have Pirie MacDonald, Colonel Marceau, and Pop Core…
What’s interesting here is that these five gentlemen were the photographers of the Byron Company, a photography studio founded in Manhattan in 1892, which was described by the New York Times as “one of New York’s pre-eminent commercial photography studios.” Joseph Byron is the founder, and the studio actually still operates in the hands of his descendants, seventh-generation photographer Thomas Byron and his son, Mark Byron. The possible creators of the first selfie are still in business!
These incredible photographs are just two of 23,000 Byron Company prints that have been digitized as part of the Museum of the New York City’s digital collection. You can check out more of their incredible photographic library online here.
Read more at “This Might Be The First Selfie In Photographic History.”
Your correspondent’s Facebook followers will recall that there’s an earlier candidate for “first selfie”:
According to the Library of Congress, this photo of chemist and metallurgist Robert Cornelius is believed to be the first photographic portrait; and as he shot the daguerreotype himself in 1839, the first self-portrait. But as for we we typically mean these days by “selfie”– a shot taken with camera held at arms length– it appears the Byron boys have it.
* Genesis 1:27
As we turn to catch the light, we might recall that it was on this date in 2012 that a Nebraska woman sold a three-year-old McDonalds Chicken McNugget on eBay. Rebekah Speight of Dakota City explained in her offer:
Approximately 3 years ago, I treated my children to “99 cent McNugget Tuesday” and play time at our local McDonald’s. As I was cleaning up, I noticed one particular nugget and began to laugh. I picked it up for a closer look, and sure enough it was in the likeness of President George Washington. I decided to take it home and show my husband this hysterical find.
When he arrived home, I pulled it out of the freezer and he could not believe his eyes. We shared a moment of laughter as we joked about putting it on eBay. Then back in the freezer it went.
The students of Family Worship Center in Sioux City, Iowa are in the process of trying to raise $15,000 for Church Camp this summer. My husband and I felt led to auction this “President George Washington Chicken McNugget” as part of our fund-raising effort. 100% of the money raised will go to Family Worship Center in Sioux City, Iowa.
By bidding on this rare “President George Washington Chicken McNugget” … not only will you have an opportunity to be the new owner of this rare find, but you will be investing in the lives of children.
In view of the cause, eBay waived its prohibition on the offer of “expired food.” The McNugget fetched $8,100.
New York photographer Sasha Bezzubov uses a variety of conceptual methods to point viewers to larger phenomena that underlie visible landscapes… Bezzubov’s series Things Fall Apart (2001-07), depicts the aftermath of natural disasters in India, Indonesia, Thailand and the United States. The pictures function in part as documents of these tragic events, but the series as a whole does not convey enough specific information to be useful as documentary work. Rather, the images blend together to form a more generalized, and aestheticized, portrayal of destruction, following the long artistic tradition of appreciating the melancholy beauty of ruins and nature’s destructive power. That tradition is closely tied to the idea of the sublime — a sensation of beauty and terror in the face of nature’s power — prevalent in 18th and early 19th century philosophy and landscape art, and often understood as a way of experiencing the divine. Nature’s power is certainly evident in Bezzubov’s images, but the knowledge that human-caused climate change has increased the frequency and strength of catastrophic storms reshapes our sense of the sublime…
Read more at Design Observer…
* Isaac Asimov
As we take stock, we might recall that it was on this date in 1993 that the World Trade Center in New York was attacked for the first time: a nitrate-hydrogen truck bomb was detonated below the North Tower. The blast shook the 110 story tower, causing the collapse of several floors in the underground garage, and tore a hole in the ceiling of an adjoining subway; six people were killed, another thousand, injured. The attack is believed to have been planned by Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, a member of what we now know as al-Qaeda, and was executed by a group who were apprehended, tried, and convicted the following year.