Plenty of us were taken aback by Todd McLellan's "Things Come Apart" photo series, where he disassembled a variety of everyday objects and laid all the parts bare. Now the Toronto-based shooter has gathered teardown photos of 50 design classics, from the Pentax SLR you see above (hope it doesn't have a radioactive lens) to the iPad to a freaking grand piano, and compiled them into the coffee table book Things Come Apart: A Teardown Manual for Modern Living, which hits store shelves today.
McLellan's also concurrently released a video showing what he goes through to get to those end photos:
For those of you who can't get to a brick-and-mortar that carries it, the book is also available on Amazon.
An alarming Wiki entry on Camerapedia has caught the attention of the Reddit community. Entitled "Radioactive Lenses," the original write-up notes that "There are a significant number of [camera] lenses produced from the 1940s through the 1970s that are measurably radioactive."
Apparently the problem is that manufacturers used to use glass containing thorium oxide, which increases the refractive index of the lenses. Unfortunately for users, thorium oxide is a byproduct of uranium production and it's freaking radioactive.
What the Reddit users started asking is just how radioactive. "Anyone with an understanding of nuclear physics," one poster wrote, "care to make some sense of those readings for cavemen like me?" Here was the answer he got:
Nuclear physicist here. Typical radiation levels [on the thorium oxide lenses] can approach 10 mR/hr as measured at the lens element's surface, decreasing substantially with distance; at a distance of 3 ft. (.9 m.) the radiation level is difficult to detect over typical background levels.
10 mR/hr is more than I would want to be exposed to for prolonged periods. In my lab alarms go off if the ambient levels get above 2 mR/hr, and 10 mR is the maximum allowed dose for an 8-hour shift.
- My lab uses very conservative limits for occupational exposure. People who clean up radioactive waste are exposed to doses many times higher and are fine.
- That is the dose rate at contact with the lens, so it will only really matter when you are handling it, and your hands are not particularly sensitive to radiation.
- I'm curious how they measured the dose, specifically whether the alpha radiation was included. Alphas can't penetrate through shit, and will be stopped by a lens cap or filters, even your clothes or epidermis. They could, in time, damage your eye and give you cataracts if you aren't wearing glasses or contacts. Our askscience health physicist explains much of this here. He quotes a study that determined a "serious outdoor photographer" would get only 2 mrem per year, which is really negligible.
The current scuttlebutt seems to be that if you're not putting your eyeball up against the lense—i.e., using the camera backwards—you'll be fine. However, if the camera's got an eyepiece also made with thorium-oxide-containing glass, you may want to re-think using it.
There's a complete list of the known afflicted camera models and lenses here.
There are six billion people on the planet, and something like 2.5 billion camera phones. Facebook alone gets more than 3,000 photos uploaded to it every second; since you started reading this entry, another 10,000 have gone up. Capturing images, once such a difficult and expensive process, has become something we unthinkingly do with little more than our thumbs. Photos are disposable. Forgettable.
Two years ago, photographer Daniel Carillo took a daguerreotype workshop at Rochester's George Eastman House photography museum. Seattle-based Carillo fell in love with the process, which is about as opposite to digital photography as you can get: An image isn't a quickly-captured string of code that lives on a website, but something that has been painstakingly burned into a shiny, solid piece of metal using alchemy and elbow grease. It took Carillo a year just to acquire the tools and materials needed to produce a single daguerreotype.
In the video below, fellow shooter Patrick Richardson Wright captures Carillo's process. It's so beautiful, you'll want to pull your cell phone out and snap a picture of it.
[Ed. Note: As commenter Rukka notes, the man in the photos below has since been absolved of suspicion as of Thursday, April 18, when the FBI released images of the suspects.]
By now you've all seen the photo, above, highlighting the difference between the papal announcement in '05 versus the one from this year. At one point some design team figured out they could wedge a tiny camera into a cell phone, and it changed everything; anytime anything of note happens, the first thing people do is whip out their phones to record it.
As we mentioned in an earlier post, that means we internet denizens now get to see footage of things we couldn't have twenty years ago, like the disaster in Japan. In a country with cell phone penetration that high, hundreds of citizen journalists were snapping pics and video, which helped drive home to the rest of the world how terrible that tragedy was.
Monday's bombing in Boston reveals a new facet to this phenomena. In an effort to identify the bomber, police began actively courting anyone who had taken footage prior to the blast, as there were certainly more people holding up cell phone cameras or now-ubiquitous DSLRs than there were surveillance cameras in the area.
Bostonite Ben Levine works at a marketing and communications firm just steps away from one of the blast sites. Prior to the explosion, Ben was snapping pics of the marathon from the window circled in red below:
This is one of the photos he snapped a few hours before the blast:
Here's the same photo after hundreds or thousands of eyeballs had pored over it:
What does that look like to you? The cave drawings at Lascaux, maybe?
How about this one? A shield from an ancient civilization?
Nope, these are the lowest of the world's low-value coins, those forgotten bits of metal that keep lint company in our pockets or fill forgotten jars. Perhaps sensing that cents are on the way out, Martin John Callanan—self-described as "an artist researching an individual's place within systems"—is photographically preserving them for posterity with his The Fundamental Units project.
The kicker is that a regular camera wouldn't do, not for what Callanan had in mind; so he teamed up with the UK's National Physical Laboratory, which is that country's national measurement standards lab, to use their infinite focus 3D optical microscope. Callanan then captured some 4,000 exposures of each freaking coin, resulting in a series of 400 megapixel images that, blown up and hanging on a gallery wall, reveal details you'd never spot on the real deal. Every nick, scratch, dent, ding and discoloration are laid bare.
FreeFly Systems is a company dedicated to designing camera-supporting tools that enable revolutionary cinematography. Their top-of-the-line product is probably their CineStar Heavy Lift, above, an eight-rotor flying camera platform; but it is their handheld MoVI M10 model, below, that is currently enjoying a press explosion.
It's easy to see why. The MoVI is a wicked piece of engineering, featuring a 3-axis gimbal that automatically, gyroscopically, digitally stabilizes the camera. Yet despite the presence of onboard motors, the thing operates completely silently and weighs less than 3.5 pounds. While a single person is meant to support it, shooting duties can also be split by having a second operator control the camera remotely via joystick. This frees the first operator up to focus on, for example, running or keeping a close eye on their footing on tricky terrain.
Nowadays we use cameras, of both the cell phone and surveillance variety, to record crimes. But back when photography was a newfangled technology, the earliest application was merely to document what particular criminals looked like. The mugshot is still alive and well today, but like many things that are nearly 100 years old, the modern-day mugshot is a hell of a lot less classy than its original variant. (Think of Nick Nolte.)
Twisted Sifter came across these astonishing 1920s mugshots collected by Australia's Historic Houses Trust. Compiled by the Sydney Justice & Police Museum, most of the photographs are criminals' headshots side-by-side with a head-to-toe, with the long exposure giving the figures a ghostly quality.
You can't help but be struck by the fashion and etiquette of the time—to order even a criminal to doff his hat was apparently considered ungentlemanly, and although these people were murderers, thieves and rapists, most of them took the time to put on a vest and tie on a tie in the mornings.
As someone who sits through a lot of product demonstration videos, I can tell you that most of the homegrown ones suck. Not the products themselves, the demo videos. They're poorly shot by untalented people, commissioned by folks who do not understand the value of talented videographers and editors, or even the importance of camera lens choices.
Now, you've probably heard the joke that the internet's greatest value is in sharing footage of cute dogs and cats. But there's also a lesson in there about effective videography and editing techniques. While not all of the tricks you're about to see can be integrated into a product demo video, at least consider how boring this footage could have been—it's essentially just an athletic house cat—and how much attention-getting drama the shooter was able to wring out of it. By the end it practically feels like you're watching an Olympian:
The internet is clogged with cat footage, but I maintain the reason this one is on its way to 2,000,000 hits is because of the way s/he shot it.
Remember our earlier entries on holsters, both modern-day and cowboy-style? These days there's another breed of shooter that can use a waist-mounted system for quickdraws:
That's the Dual Camera System designed by Spider, a company that produces on-body photographer's gear. Two cameras too much? They've also got a Single Camera System that you can stick on an ordinary belt.
Regardless of whether you're single- or double-gunning it, the company has put some careful thought on how best to hang heavy DSLRs off the side of your body without damaging the gear.
This video provides a closer look. I like the wisdom of the two-pin system, and the way they've designed it so that you can still grab the camera from the bottom while shooting in portrait mode.
In the Foundation year of art school, before we freshmen were allowed to choose specific courses of study like Industrial Design, Graphic Design, Illustration etc., they had us all make pinhole cameras. The point was to teach us not only how to build the cameras, but to respect the deliberateness of the image capturing and image developing process. We spent patient hours in that darkroom, and the memory of watching a grey film sheet in a chemical bath slowwwwwly turn into your image was kind of magical, for lack of a less dorky word. I'm convinced those types of moments drove many to major in Photography.
That magic has largely gone away with the advent of digital photography, and the casual rapidity with which it's produced; every time you Instagram your entree with an iPhone, a fairy dies.
Austrian photographer Kurt Hoerbst is bringing a measure of deliberateness back to his own photography, digital though it may be. "Magic" isn't the right word to describe Hoerbst's approach, as it's more about science. What Hoerbst does is take super-slow body scans with a DSLR rigged up to a track, capturing every minute detail on his human subjects' bodies, which are lying on the floor. He then captures up to 20 scans, compositing them into ultra-detailed representations of that person.
Hoerbst first developed this process in 2005 "to produce high-definition monochrome images of landscape details in which every mote of dust and blade of grass are recognizable," he told Ars Electronica. "Over the course of this project, it occurred to me that it would also be interesting to use this scanning process on human beings as a way to work with human surfaces." In the future he hopes to zero in on particular groups of people to scan—"for instance, scientists or athletes."
The Smithsonian has selected 50 finalists for their Photo Contest 2012, and the images are now open for public voting. The one that most caught my eye is Nebraska-based shooter Tim Wright's flick, above, of a what was once a big-ass silo in Iowa. While the image has been HDR'd, Wright points out that that's where the photo manipulation ends: "This is NOT something created in Photoshop," he writes. "It is a display of the awesome power of a tornado."
This is the future we were promised! Flying cars, baby. Anyone in the 1950s would have surely thought we denizens of 2013 would be whipping around in them, but we are not. And the simple reason why, is because engineers are lazy. All of them.
Someone who's not lazy is photographer Renaud Marion, who shoots photos of ordinary cars and painstakingly Photoshops them into the floating, tireless creations you see here. He calls it the "Air Drive" series and I hope he continues it beyond the six shots you see here.
The Internet is abuzz over a photograph of New York's Central Park, for which Sergey Semonov received first prize in the amateur category of the Epson International Photographic Pano Awards. It turns out that he's been honing his craft with group of fellow photo enthusiasts for several years now: AirPano is a noncommercial enterprise that hopes to share the wonders of the world (literally, at times) through the art of high resolution aerial panoramas. The eight team members—who have backgrounds in everything from civil engineering to medical cybernetics—travel the world, shooting major cities, landmarks and other sites of interest, usually from a helicopter (but, as they note, "at times we use light jets, dirigibles, hot air balloons and radio-controlled helicopters").
Full screen or nothin':
Right-click to see other views
The AirPano website features "over 700 panoramas showing over 120 amazing locations of all continents including Antarctic and the North Pole"; panoramas from some 50 other locations are in the works. The large-ish files take a while to load—I've only had time to enjoy just a few of them so far—so let's just say it's a good way to kill time if it's a slow day at work. If you're short on bandwidth, you can peruse their gallery of intensely lush stills. The Escher-esque shot below was several years in the making.
Henry Hargreaves is a photographer who made his way to Brooklyn via his home country of New Zealand, but he's dabbles in Duchampian diversions in art and design as well, such as "Deep Fried Gadgets," a series of photos of the very same. He's back with a similarly conceptual project called "Game Over!":
Taking games from my childhood I wanted to strip away the color making the games themselves useless but draw the views attention to how beautiful and sculptural the forms themselves actually are.
Of course, Hargreaves hasn't quite stripped away the color, as each composition is a study of monochromatic boards and pieces set on backgrounds of the same pastel color. Besides the fact that each of the games is instantly recognizable, I was also interested to see how a lack of color cues hinders or altogether obviates gameplay. Connect Four becomes an abstracted distribution curve; the jigsaw puzzle is demands superhuman sensitivity to infinitesimal variations in size and shape.
Mr. Potatohead, on the other hand, becomes a sculptural version of the unmistakable toy, a work of Pop Art to the Minimalist mini-sculpture of the Rubik's Cube, which is unsolvable precisely because it is unscramble-able.
Here in New York, the citywide recovery effort has been underway for some five days now, as Hurricane Sandy struck just under a week ago and left the Eastern seaboard reeling from the paralyzing preventative measures as much as the formidable force of nature herself. The city officially reopened over the weekend, and While many of us contributed to relief efforts over the weekend, now that the stalwart civil servants of our beloved city have restored power, transit and some semblance of order to the five boroughs, it's back to business as usual here at our office in Soho.
Much has been made of the quasi-apocalyptic state of Lower Manhattan, a ghost town on an epic scale (on the occasion of Halloween, no less): in addition to the riveting photos of the storm and its aftermath, distributed in near-real-time (The Atlantic and Boston's consistently excellent Big Picture have nice roundups), I'm particularly impressed by Iwan Baan's aerial photographs of those few dark days, shot for New York Magazine. As the award-winning Dutch architectural photographer told Poynter:
With these aerials you shoot a lot, bursts of images, to finally pick one out there which is sharp... It's difficult if it's freezing outside, you don't have a door, helicopter is moving and vibrating, etc., but you really work towards an idea, visualization of that image which you have in mind...
What really struck me [is that] the Goldman Sachs building and new World Trade Center [are the only] two buildings [that] are brightly lit. And then the rest of New York looks literally kind of powerless. In a way, it shows also what's wrong with the country in this moment.
I imagine that reproductions of Baan's photo might eventually be sold for relief efforts, but in the meantime, our friend and fellow New Yorker Sebastian Errazuriz is pleased to present his latest project, a charitable t-shirt design in response to the disaster. The "I Still Love NY" and "Manhattan Blackout" t-shirts are available now for $40 each through GREY AREA; 100% of the proceeds will go towards hurricane relief.
The hand-made T-Shirts are currently being made at the artist's studio in the 70's dip dying style. The beloved tourist classics: "I Love NY" and MTA subway T-shirts are now being transformed into a flooded NYC and a Manhattan divided between those with electricity and those left in the dark.
Sebastian Errazuriz explains that like many other work places his studio was paralyzed after the hurricane waiting for supplies that got stuck on their way to NY. Unable to work and tired of watching the horrible disaster unfold on the news the artist decided to try and help out by making a design he could donate. The idea occurred to him upon seeing the water line marked on the walls of the flooded galleries in NY Chelsea art district, which was also left over the affected areas of the Tri-State.
The Art and design space GREY AREA will be selling the T-shirts online and will also have them on store at the opening of their Americana show on Tuesday, which will be held in parallel to the live screening of the elections. Kyle DeWoody co-founder and creative director of GREY AREA explains "All of us at Grey Area are deeply saddened by the toll the hurricane has taken on our town and our neighbors, and we're eager to do what we can to help those in need of assistance. We believe in using creativity for good and are dedicated to support Sebastian with this initiative."
Here are some other ways to help in this time of need:
» First up, WNYC has a fairly comprehensive list of ways to help
» AirBnB is facilitating temporary shelter for hurricane victims; learn more here.
» Occupy Sandy is a community-organized recovery effort that has received some attention for their Amazon wedding relief registry, among other initiatives.
» NYC nonprof Printed Matter lost countless editions; donate here
Feel free to add more organizations/resources in the comments. It goes without saying that our hearts and minds are with those less fortunate than those of us who made it through unscathed.
They're calling it "The world's most versatile camera," and it's hard to disagree. At midnight yesterday/today GoPro began selling their new model, the Hero3.
"No expense was spared during its development," the company writes. Sadly they don't elaborate on what that development entailed, as I'm sure more than a few designers and engineers are curious. I don't know what kind of black magic they've got going on in their labs, but the thing is 30% smaller than the previous model and weighs just 2.6 freaking ounces. Then there are the tech stats:
Waterproof to 197' (60m), capable of capturing ultra-wide 1440p 48fps, 1080p 60 fps and 720p 120 fps video and 12MP photos at a rate of 30 photos per second.
If the numbers don't dazzle you, the footage probably will. The best part of a new GoPro release is that we get a new video of people doing crazy ish in some of the most beautiful places on Earth:
This is Esther, this is Gladys, and they will bust a cap in your ass
To see a series of interesting, completely random objects from the past, look no further than the Detroit News Archivist. This series of high-quality images taken from the late 1800s to the 1990s contains more black-and-white eye candy than you're likely to find on any website. It is presented completely randomly, with little in the way of curation, but that makes it more fun to browse through. Here are some pics/picks:
In the pre-CG 1960s, the only way to show the public how the inside of a car was constructed.
Who knew that the early municipal water supply was piped through hand-bored wooden logs?
The Chinese phrase si da jian literally translates as "four big things," and in 1950s China, it referred to four objects every family wanted to own: A sewing machine, a bicycle, a wristwatch and a radio. Over the decades the list evolved—the BBC reports that by the 1980s, it referred to a TV, washing machine, rice cooker and refrigerator—and today the phrase has become slang for any desireable object.
Chinese photographer Huang Qingjun has been using his camera to document the possesions of families in the Chinese hinterland. (While he's found a lot more than four possessions, the amount of items pales compared to America's average family, where we have a culture of renting separate storage units to hold the overflow.) Huang's photography project, entitled Jiadang ("Family Stuff"), has him somehow convincing each family to take every single thing they own that's not nailed down, and haul it outside to be arranged and photographed in front of their dwelling.
"Most people thought what I was proposing was not normal. When I explained I wanted to set up a photo, that it would involve taking everything out of their house and setting it up outside, that took quite a lot of explaining," he says. "But almost all of them, when they realised what I was trying to do, they understood the point."
"Marketing is something you do if your product is no good. Instead, you have to show something to people that they had no idea that they wanted but that is irresistible." -Edwin Land
In 1947, Edwin Land debuted Polaroid's Land Camera, an instant camera that revolutionized the way that people understood and used photography. Since it's introduction, Polaroid has become a cultural touchstone for an entire generation of artists and enthusiasts, with a new generation of photospammers adopting the analog format as their common digital language.
Instant: The Story of Polaroid is an upcoming book tracing the rise and fall of Polaroid. As the author, New York magazine editor Christopher Bonanos, tells it:
INSTANT is a business story, about what happens when a company loses its innovative spark. It is a fine-arts story, showcasing the amazing things people did with Polaroid film. It is a technology story, of a company that created and maintained a niche all its own for 60 years. And it is a pop-culture history, of a friendly product that millions of people absolutely adored. I like to think that it also tells a larger story, about the rise and fall of American invention and manufacturing.
A prolific inventor and restless visionary, Land's unique approach to innovation is intimately bound with the success of Polaroid and his unique leadership style deeply influenced Steve Jobs. Bonanos sees Polaroid as the Apple of its day, an innovation-driven company that disrupted it's industry by inventing and introducing products no one anticipated.
Princeton Architectural Press released this great "Book Trailer" in anticipation of the book's release in October.
It is a strange thing to become both immortalized and anonymous, but no one really knows the identities of the eleven construction workers captured in "Lunch Atop a Skyscraper." The iconic photograph shows the men who built 30 Rock—which most Americans know as Liz Lemon's workplace, above—casually taking a break on a girder, legs dangling some 800 feet above Manhattan.
As someone terrified of heights, I've never been able to look at the photograph without feeling queasy. And now when archivists look at the photo, they can't help but feel it's not a candid at all, but one of two carefully staged promotional shots produced by Rockefeller Center's original backers. Here's the second:
To be clear, they're not claiming the photos—which turned 80 years old last week—are airbrushed or cut-and-paste jobs; no one doubts that these men actually shimmied out onto the girder for the camera. Which brings us back to the original point--who were these men? Irish filmmaker Sean O'Cualain's new documentary, Men at Lunch, tries to get to the bottom of just who was up at the top.
In Texas everything is bigger, so it's ironic that Texas Instruments made the first transistor radio. This miniaturized display of technological might was nothing short of astonishing in 1954, when a radio had been, up until recently, a heavy piece of furniture you made a dedicated spot for in the living room. Now you could carry music, and every local radio station's playlists, around with you.
The miniaturization of devices has always been about added convenience and portability. But this recently-released video by a skydiver reminds us that there is an added benefit to shrinking things: They become less fragile simply by virtue of having less mass. An unnamed Canadian skydiver jumped out of an airplane with a GoPro camera strapped to his head when something went wrong:
"[I] bumped my head on the door frame on exit," he writes, "unclasping the latch on the box. The camera popped out on exit at 12,500 [feet] and fell straight down...."
The video is hard to watch, not because it's gruesome—it isn't—but because it's dizzying. But the relevant moments happen at around 0:28 and 2:40, and you can fast-forward through what's in between, unless you want to lose your lunch:
Are you kidding me? "Not one scratch on the body or lens," he writes. "A buddy the same day who is one of our camera flyers had the same thing happen but with his SLR... not the same result." While the skydiver admits the results would be different had the GoPro landed on concrete rather than grass, anything electronic and containing glass that survives a vertical drop in excess of two miles is pretty damn impressive. And how crazy is it that the camera fortuitously landed at such an angle as to still capture the skydivers landing?
After nearly half a decade of research and development, we're pleased to announce that it's finally possible to pre-order their first iPhone-to-Polaroid device as of this very morning: the Impossible Project has launched a Kickstarter project for the Impossible Instant Lab, which allows cameraphone shutterbugs to print their images as genuine Polaroid snapshots, iconic white border and all. Dr. Kaps recaps the journey and demos the Lab in the pitch-perfect pitch video:
I used to know a guy who did street photography and caught amazingly intimate shots of total strangers. I always asked him "How the hell did you capture that?" as I couldn't believe how close he got to these people, and how unaware they seemed of the camera. He said his best shots came from using a compact camera that he held against his chest; on the street or the subway, no one realized he was even shooting. But doing that with an SLR, he told me, would be out of the question.
It's for that reason that PhotoJojo is producing their Super-Secret Spy Lens. You simply screw it onto the end of your regular lens, enabling you to now shoot 90 degrees away from what your camera is pointed at; the SSS Lens isn't a lens at all, but a simple housing for a mirror.
As with my chest-shooting buddy, anyone paying close attention may realize you're shooting them; but this will surely increase your chances of getting that impossibly-candid shot.
As motion-control rigs proliferate, we're seeing a lot of beautiful time-lapse video that allows us to perceive our environments in new ways. Two videos that are currently making the blog rounds are below, and what we found striking was how paradoxically similar and totally different they are.
The first, "Nightfall," was done by filmmaker Colin Rich and is an exploration of Los Angeles. Be sure to maximize it:
Ikea Communications runs the largest photo studio in northern Europe. Inside their 94,000-square-foot facility an army of carpenters, designers and shooters all plan, build and photograph the faux rooms you see in the Ikea catalog. Here's a brief look at their facility:
Fake rooms still require real skilled labor to produce. The walls need to be painted, the kitchens need to be tiled, the living rooms need to be styled. It's a lot of work, and when the catalog's finished, the rooms get torn down to make way for next year's.
It's therefore no surprise that Ikea is using more and more digital images in their catalog, like the ones you see here. (That's right, none of these are real.) Yet when I first heard this fact during a presentation at Autodesk headquarters, where a company flack mentioned Ikea uses their software to create the images, all of us journalists in the room snatched up our phones to Tweet this.
No one can tell the difference between the studio shots and the CG ones, so it makes sense to save on all of the building materials required for the former by shifting focus towards the latter. Currently just 12% of the Ikea catalog consists of digital images, though they're ramping that up to 25% for the next catalog.