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1860s photos of the last Samurai

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Felice Beato photographed Samurai in the 1860s and hand-colored the prints. According to Getty, he "made hundreds of ethnographic portraits and genre scenes in Japan. He eventually opened a furniture and curio business in Burma." You can download high-resolution copies of his work at Getty.edu. Paul Gallagher of Dangerous Minds wrote about Beato and included several of his remarkable photos of Japan in a time of transition.

Among his first photographs were the portraits of the Satsuma samurais, who happily posed for him. In one group portrait, four samurais symbolically show their strength and ambition by presenting themselves with one standing samurai holding a red book of English literature and one seated with an unsheathed knife—highlighting their hold on western knowledge and their strength in Japanese tradition. As travel became restricted because of the civil war, Beato opened a studio back in Yokohama, where he photographed many samurai warriors and their courtesans.

A selection of Felice Beato’s rare hand-colored photographs will be on display at the London Photographic Fair 23rd-24th May.

The Polaroid Book: over 400 intriguing “instant photos”

As a photography fanatic and lover of the humble Polaroid, I knew The Polaroid Book by Barbara Hitchcock and Steve Crist would be a hit. Featuring over 300 pages of carefully selected Polaroid photographs from the Polaroid Collection archive, as well as an equally intriguing section featuring different models of Polaroid cameras, this is one book you’ll want to leave out on your coffee table.

In his brief introduction, Crist touches upon the fact that despite digital photography taking over the art form, Polaroids really were the original “instant photos,” creating much excitement for the user as they observed their picture developing in front of their very own eyes. From Polaroids of colorful artworks to stark nudes, striking portraits in black and white and sprawling landscapes, it seems as though no subject matter was left out when combing through the archives. As well as being a visual masterpiece, The Polaroid Book also serves as a publication to both motivate and inspire the reader. “After spending time with this book, my hope is that you, the reader, will be as inspired as I am to pick up a camera and create wondrous Polaroids of your own,” writes Crist. I’m sure I speak for many readers when I say “mission accomplished.” – Melanie Doncas

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Unbelievably gorgeous wave images by Ray Collins

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Photographer Ray Collins has created work that stands out even in the crowded field of seascape photography. His mixture of light and wave energy captures the lure and power of the ocean.

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Colorful holi powders make striking, vibrant portraits

Photographer Szymon Swietochowski created these stunning staff portraits for Polish ad agency Ars Thanea.

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Calder Wilson attached fireworks to his drone. Result: remarkable

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Photographer Calder Wilson has been experimenting with photographing fireworks attached to his drone.

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Photography books we love: 'Understanding Exposure,' third edition

Understanding Exposure, 3rd Edition: How to Shoot Great Photographs with Any Camera

Bryan Peterson's Understanding Exposure is a fantastic book to help photographers old and new learn to manage light.

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How to make a smartphone microscope

Kenji Yoshino of MAKE shows you how to make a powerful microscope from "the focus lens from a cheap laser pointer or two, and about $10 worth of materials from the hardware store."

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Awe-inspiring finalists of Smithsonian's photo contest

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Smithsonian posted the finalists in its 12th Annual Photo Contest! Above, Nicolas Reusens's photo of a snake and its meal of frog legs (and the rest of the frog) at the Arenal Volcano in Costa Rica. Below, Ray Collins's shot of a beautiful breaking wave off New South Wales, Sydney, Australia.

"Announcing the Finalists of the 12th Annual Smithsonian.com Photo Contest"

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Coffee table book documents goofy collision of sex and 60s psychedelia

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Publisher Taschen will release Psychedelic Sex (NSFW) later in March, written by Eric Godtland and Paul Krassner. Photos are lifted from posters, comics, and men's magazines between 1967 and 1972, and together form a fascinating cultural capsule proving: a) Austin Powers was real and b) any potentially liberating cultural trend is eventually subsumed by the same old shit.

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The trippy Polaroids of photographer Marianna Rothen

Her series "Alien Camp" uses gel filters to help create a dreamy, painterly aesthetic as beautiful as it is strange. (via)

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Tokyo club kids photographed in their bathtubs

You've been asking, "Where are my photos of Tokyo club kids in their bathtubs?" Tokyo-based Photographer Hal is here to help.

Salt is weird and beautiful

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At Vantage, Christine Lorenz's macrophotography reveals the alien structures of salt.

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Electric photos of the Neon Museum, Las Vegas

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Over at GONE, Matt Crump's gorgeous photography of the The Neon Museum of Las Vegas, a retirement home for beautiful casino signage of an earlier era.

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A master of miniatures' incredible small town

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Michael Paul Smith's Elgin Park is a town that does not exist except in the mind and miniatures of this master of tabletop photography. It is "a 1/24th-scale recreation of everyday scenes from mid-20th century America, ranging from the 1920s to the mid-1960s."

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The buildings are constructed of resin-coated paper, styrene plastic, and basswood, plus numerous found objects. The vehicles are from Michael's collection of 300+ commercially produced, diecast models.

No Photoshop was used in these images; they're all composed in the camera. It is the oldest trick in the special effects book: lining up a model with an appropriate background, then photographing it.

Welcome to Elgin Park

"Lots of Web Traffic in Such a Tiny Town" (New York Times, 2010)

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An iceberg's underbelly

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This is the otherworldly underside of an iceberg in Antarctica, photographed by Alex Cornell, a passenger on a National Geographic-operated tour of the region.

"This one had recently flipped over and had this arresting alien green color to it," he told National Geographic Travel. "It looked a lot more like a parked spacecraft than a floating iceberg."

Watch this demo of camera mechanics at 10,000 frames per second

The Slow Mo Guys pointed their Phantom at a Canon DSLR to demonstrate how a single lens reflex camera works. At 10,000 frames per second, you can see the the mirror and rolling shutter mechanism in action in several demos.

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Stiffs, Skulls and Skeletons – Over 400 medical portraits taken in the 1800s and early 1900s

Dr. Stanley Burns has collected over 1-million medical photographs from the 1800s and early 1900s, when posing for a professional portrait in the style of a painting was trendy.

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