New Deal Photography: USA 1935-1943 by Peter Walther Taschen 2016, 608 pages, 5.9 x 7.9 x 1.7 inches (hardcover) $16 Buy a copy on Amazon
If you purchase a copy of New Deal Photography: USA 1935-1943 by Peter Walther hoping to find iconic Farm Security Administration images, such as the migrant mother by Dorothea Lange or the father and his two sons running in a dust storm by Arthur Rothstein, you will not be disappointed. With almost 400 photographs filling its 608 pages, including numerous gems by Walker Evans, there’s plenty of room for the expected. But New Deal Photography goes well beyond these familiar images, powerful though they may be.
The book’s geographic organization forces us to consider Depression-era life in the Northeast and South, too, pushing our perspectives beyond the more familiar locations of Oklahoma and California. In addition, Walther’s collection of images features numerous color photographs by Russell Lee, Jon Collier, and Marion Post Wolcott. Again, we are used to seeing the era depicted in black and white, but seeing it in color confounds many of our expectations about what rural America actually looked like during those desperate years.
Walther’s essay for the book, which is printed in English, German, and French, presents a brisk but useful overview of the Farm Security Administration, from its founding mission to relocate Dust Bowl farmers in Oklahoma to greener pastures, to the photographs that were initially commissioned to document the relocation process. That might have been all the FSA did, but Walther introduces us to an FSA economist named Roy Stryker, who understood that photographs would do a much better job of telling the story of rural America in the late 1930s than any economic report ever could. Read the rest
Like aurorae, sprites happen when charged particles interact with gases in the atmosphere, likely nitrogen. As ice particles high within thunderclouds bash against one another, an electrical charge builds. An opposite charge builds up on the ground, and eventually both charges connect, creating a spark of light—lightning. When the lightning strike has a positive charge, it can spark a sprite—a kind of electric field that shoots out from the top of the lightning strike—that flashes above the cloud.
They’re also not easily spotted by the human eye. As Matt Heavner of the University of Alaska explains, bright lights make it nearly impossible for the eye’s retina to spot the flashes, and the bright clouds that can surround them also distract would-be sprite spotters. It’s even more difficult to catch these flashes in action because when you’re beneath the sprite-sprouting cloud, you can’t see the flash at all. You either need to be flying above the clouds or far away to get the perfect shot.
Scott London, a longtime burner and photographer (see his 2014 photo book, Burning Man: Art on Fire), produced an amazing set of portraits of art cars -- "mutant vehicles" -- from this year's event, including Maria Del Camino (previously), a flying El Camino/tank hybrid that lives in Liminal Labs, where I camp with its creator, the amazing Bruce Tomb. Read the rest
These 1850s photos of Japan were taken with a stereoscopic camera like the one shown here. The photos were hand-tinted and meant to be viewed with a stereoscope. (A View Master is a stereoscope.) The images here are animated GIFs that blink back and forth between the two photos, giving you the 3D effect without having to use a stereopscope.