The story of the TSA's oddly entertaining Instagram account

The Transportation Security Administration (TSA)'s Instagram account is a real hoot, featuring weird, ridiculous, and sometimes helpful images of items that are prohibited and permitted to bring on flights. Apparently Jeremy Bentham's mummified head, above, "is allowed in carry-on as long as it's properly packaged, labeleled, and declared..." Also, who knew that Batarangs and Krull Glaives were so popular. From National Geographic:

“It almost looks like we’re in the entertainment business at times,” says Bob Burns, lead social media specialist with the TSA Office of Public Affairs and the man behind the account’s cheeky posts. After leaving his rock band in 2002, Burns originally joined TSA as a screener and later started the Instagram account in 2013—his idea to educate the public in a more engaging way.

“Everyone’s had that teacher where you’re afraid to ask questions because you’ll get criticized or yelled at. The human tone of our Instagram account makes us more approachable,” Burns says. “The majority of our photos are prohibited items and strange things … we try to use that as a teaching moment: A chainsaw is not allowed in your carry-on bag.”

Talk about deadheading... This crusty ol' chap is actually a prop from the #TexasChainsawMassacre movie. He was brought through a checkpoint at the Atlanta (#ATL) International Airport, where as you can see, he was screened and sent on his jolly way. #TSAOnTheJob

A post shared by TSA (@tsa) on May 15, 2016 at 3:41pm PDT

Some might find this nanner knife appealing. I’m guessing you have a bunch of them?

Read the rest

Photographs from the archives of the Stasi, East Germany's legendary, paranoid secret police

Canadian Adrian Fish is one of the few photographers who've been permitted to take and publish photos from the archives of the Stasi, the legendarily invasive secret police of the former East Germany, who employed one snitch for every 60 people at their peak. Read the rest

Photographer shoots wrong couple's marriage proposal

A perfect storm of factors led to photographer Jacob Peters shooting the wrong marriage proposal at a remote romantic overlook. Read the rest

Watch ocean wave images turned into hypnotic animations

Cinemagraphs turn still photographs into moving images. Armand Dijcks has taken the gorgeous wave photography of Ray Collins (previously) and turned them into hypnotic slow-mo animations. Read the rest

Richard Mosse's striking Heat Maps, thermal images of refugees

Richard Mosse uses military-grade surveillance equipment intended for detecting enemy movement for an unintended use: to document the plight of refugees, an extension of an earlier project titled Incoming. Read the rest

New camera shoots at 5 trillion frames per second

Reserachers at Lund Univeristy in Sweden have developed a camera that captures images at a rate equivalent to 5 trillion frames per second, quintupling the previous high mark. Read the rest

Russia's anti-Nazi women's sniper unit, colorized

These smiling assassins enlisted as snipers when Germany invaded Russia in 1941. "We mowed down Hitlerites like ripe grain," said Lyudmila Pavlichenko aka Lady Death, one of many elite snipers whose photos were colorized by Olga Shirnina aka Klimbim. Read the rest

Daredevil couple films 360-degree video atop Millennium Tower in Dubai

Dmitry Chernysh found a soul mate who likes climbing towers as much as he does, so they upped the ante and took a 360-degree camera along for their latest climb. Read the rest

Harry Israelson's delightful pics from a SoCal Ren Faire

Photographer Harry Israelson has a long-running series of photo essays called For Pleasure. For a recent set, he headed to beautiful Covina, California for a Renaissance Faire. Pictured: Ye Olde ATM. Read the rest

WAKE UP! A picture book exploring new life

Life is a continuing cycle of newness, then growth, and then gone: then birth and growth again. I started thinking about that theme of new life and new beginnings several years ago, and WAKE UP!, published by Candlewick Press, is the result. Working with my collaborator, poet Helen Frost, our book is about opening eyes—our own, first—and pointing to the world that’s right here, containing us all. Helen and I are both based in the US Midwest, so we started there, with a world that we didn’t need to travel far to explore, only wake up enough to actually see.

New photo of Earth between Saturn's rings can shift your perspective on our reality

That point of light between Saturn's rings is Earth, captured by NASA's Cassini spacecraft on April 12. More about the image here at NASA JPL. It reminds me of the last photo taken by the Voyager I spacecraft before engineers shut off its imaging systems. Carl Sagan had persuaded NASA to turn Voyager I’s cameras back toward the sun on Valentine's Day 1990 and take the first ever "portrait of our solar system" from outside of it. Earth is just a speck in that photo too, a "pale blue dot" as Sagan called it. His beautiful words remind me how a single image can alter one's perspective in an instant:

Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there...

Read the rest

Photos of triumphant ghosts escaping lightbulb and coffee mug prisons

Redditor Old_Gumbo_McGee captured a photo of this triumphant ghost escaping its lightbulb prison. And just yesterday, Linklightt posted the shot below of another specter emerging from a hot cup of Joe. Who you gonna call?

Read the rest

Brilliant visual analysis of Melania Trump's 470 Twitter photos

Kate Imbach looked at all of Melania Trump's Twitter photos with her filmmaker's eye, revealing remarkable patterns of Melania's "dark fairytale" life. Read the rest

Texas official photographer is the most Texas guy of all time

Wyman Meinzer describes his journey from outdoorsman to renowned photographer in this inspiring profile. Below are a couple of examples of his wonderful photography: Read the rest

Abandoned churches in all their ruined glory

Roman Robroek takes beautiful photos at abandoned sites all over Europe, including the thousands of abandoned churches across the continent as much of Europe becomes more secular. Read the rest

GMUNK on how he shot his amazing infrared images of Alaska

GMUNK has done a lot of cool video work, but he says his trip to Alaska to shoot infrared stills was one of his most inspiring projects of all. Below are a couple of examples. Read the rest

Fascinating documentary on combat photojournalist Catherine LeRoy

"The Hill Fights" is a clip from Jacques Menasche's film on the life and work of Catherine LeRoy, best known for covering the Vietnam War in all its unvarnished horror. Read the rest

More posts