Woman used badly photoshopped image to convince boss she had a flat tire

Twitter user @sydneywhitson reported that "her coworker called in (yet again) and said she had a nail on her tire that caused her to have a flat" and reportedly sent in the above photo as evidence. Zoomed version below. Of course, Twitter delighted in the stupidity.

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Absolutely magnificent black-and-white photos of trees in the fog

These are just a small sample of Michael Schlegel's glorious photographs of trees in Fanal, the laurisilva forest of Madeira, Portugal. The otherworldly images reassure me with their quiet calm.

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This is the first known family photo taken at Stonehenge

According to a new exhibition titled "Your Stonehenge -- 150 years of personal photos," this image of was taken at the Wiltshire, England's magical megalithic structure in 1875 and depicts the family of Isabel, Maud and Robert Routh. Personally, I wouldn't be so sure those aren't Zippies on their way to a rave in 1994.

"People have been visiting Stonehenge for centuries, for all sorts of reasons, and taking photos of themselves and their loved ones in front of the stones since the very earliest days of photography," Susan Greaney, a historian at English Heritage, the organization that manages Stonehenge, told CNN. Read the rest

Vintage UFO photos sold at auction, including the one from The X-Files "I Want To Believe" poster

In the 1970s, "Billy" Eduard Albert Meier documented the extraterrestrials who visited him by taking fantastic photographs of their spacecraft zooming over the Swiss countryside. Meier, founder of Freie Interessengemeinschaft für Grenz- und Geisteswissenschafter und Ufologiestudien (Free Community of Interests for the Border and Spiritual Sciences and Ufological Studies) says the spacecraft are called "beamships" and that they are piloted by beings called the Plejaren. Meier's ex-wife has since said that the UFOs in the photos are actually household objects and that Meier is a fibber, but, well, I want to believe. And in fact, one of Meier's photos was the source for Fox Mulder's "I Want To Believe" poster on The X-Files. That original snapshot and more than a dozen others just sold at a Sotheby's auction with one collection of six photos going for $16,250. From Sotheby's:

The second grouping includes two photographs which appear to show a single UFO moving slowly over the town of Berg Rumlikon, in Switzerland on June 14th, 1975 at 1:16 and 1:20 pm, and four images depicting a single UFO in a forested hilly area of Schmidrüti, Switzerland on March 18th, 1975, from 4:45 to 5:40 pm.

One of these photographs became perhaps the most famous and notorious UFO image of all time when 'The X-Files' chose it to appear in the famous "I Want to Believe" poster.

The poster hung in Mulder's office for the first three seasons of the show, but was changed in the 4th season due to an intellectual property suit brought by Meier, as the creators of the show never obtained permission to use the image.

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Photo proof: Greta Thunberg is a time traveler who has come here to save us from ourselves

Found in the the University of Washington Libraries's Special Collections, this c.1898 photo of badass climate activist Greta Thunberg proves that she is a time traveler who is here to save us from ourselves. Or, perhaps Twitter user @bucketofmoney is correct: "The Greta Thunberg time-travel conspiracy theorists have got it wrong: the photo is from the future."

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Robert Doisneau's famous street photo "The Kiss" was actually staged

In 1950, French street photographer Robert Doisneau captured his iconic image Le baiser de l’hôtel de ville (The Kiss). It wasn't until the 1980s that Doisneau was forced to reveal that the photo was staged. Over at PetaPixel, Martin from All About Street Photography writes:

To be fair, Doisneau was actually commissioned to take photos of kissing couples by Life magazine, and he later justified his actions by explaining that he would not dare to photograph kissing people on the streets.

The fact is that the secret was actually hidden to the public until the 1980s, when a retired couple named Jean and Denise Lavergne (Lavern) thought they recognized themselves. When they confronted Doisneau, he did not initially refute their claim. Then, seizing the opportunity, the couple sued Doisneau for money for violating their privacy. That lawsuit led Doisneau to finally reveal that the subjects of the photo were actually hired models paid to pose for the photo.

To make matters worse for the photographer, the hired model sued him too and demanded a percentage of future sales, but she lost. This was a very unpleasant and shocking experience that, as his daughter later said, “ruined the last years of his life.”

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The real reason people in old photos are almost never smiling

I always thought that the reason people look so grim in antique photos is because it would have been exhausting to hold a smile for long exposures that I imagined were required by ye olde cameras. Nope! From the always-informative Smithsonian magazine:

...Exposures from the early days of commercial photography only lasted about 5 to 15 seconds. The real reason is that, in the mid-19th century, photography was so expensive and uncommon that people knew this photograph might be the only one they’d ever have made. Rather than flash a grin, they often opted to look thoughtful and serious, a carry-over from the more formal conventions of painted portraiture, explains Ann Shumard, senior curator of photographs at the National Portrait Gallery.

According to Shumard, it wasn't until Eastman-Kodak founder George Eastman's 1888 invention of the mass market portable camera that informal snapshots of smiling people became common.

"Why Don’t People Smile in Old Photographs? And More Questions From Our Readers" (Smithsonian)

image: Eugene Pelletan portrait c.1855 by Gaspard-Félix Tournachon Read the rest

Vintage found photos of robots

Esteemed collector of vernacular photography Robert E. Jackson curated this delightful collection of snapshots depicting the history of our robotic future. See more: "15 Fabulous Vintage Snapshots Of Robots"

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Magnificent photos from a psychedelic family's California trip

For more than 50 years, Roger Steffens has traveled the electric arteries of the counterculture embracing mind-expanding experiences, deep social connection, and unadulterated fun at every turn. And he’s captured it all on film. After serving in Vietnam during the final 26 months of the ‘60s, where he won a Bronze Star for founding a refugee campaign that raised over 100 tons of food and clothing, he spent a year lecturing against the war before settling in Marrakech. Finally returning Stateside in 1972, he immersed himself in the vibrant bohemias of Berkeley, Los Angeles, and beyond, touring his highly-acclaimed one-man show, “Poetry for People Who Hate Poetry.” A psychedelic polymath, Steffens worked as an actor, poet, editor, archivist, lecturer, author, NPR radio DJ and interviewer and, yes, photographer. Driven by his own insatiable curiosity and passion, he was on a perpetual quest for the eccentric, the outlandish, the transcendent. Just as often, it found him, smiling, a camera in one hand and a joint in the other.

Roger Steffens is an intrepid explorer of the fringe but he’s also a family man. He met his wife Mary under a lunar eclipse in a pygmy forest in Mendocino, California while on LSD. Soon after, they conjured up a daughter, Kate, and son, Devon. Family vacations took the foursome up and down the West Coast, from the gritty glam of Hollywood’s Sunset Strip to reggae festivals in Humboldt, fiery protests in Berkeley to the ancient redwoods of Big Sur and the wilds of Death Valley. Read the rest

Absolutely spectacular first-ever air-to-air images of supersonic jets' shockwaves interacting

For a decade, NASA scientists have worked on an air-to-air photographic technology that will be used to collect data for the agency's next-generation supersonic airplane project. They've just released these absolutely astonishing "first air-to-air images of supersonic shockwave interaction in flight."

“We never dreamt that it would be this clear, this beautiful," says NASA scientist J.T. Heineck.

From NASA:

The images feature a pair of T-38s from the U.S. Air Force Test Pilot School at Edwards Air Force Base, flying in formation at supersonic speeds. The T-38s are flying approximately 30 feet away from each other, with the trailing aircraft flying about 10 feet lower than the leading T-38. With exceptional clarity, the flow of the shock waves from both aircraft is seen, and for the first time, the interaction of the shocks can be seen in flight.

“We’re looking at a supersonic flow, which is why we’re getting these shockwaves,” said Neal Smith, a research engineer with AerospaceComputing Inc. at NASA Ames’ fluid mechanics laboratory.

“What’s interesting is, if you look at the rear T-38, you see these shocks kind of interact in a curve,” he said. “This is because the trailing T-38 is flying in the wake of the leading aircraft, so the shocks are going to be shaped differently. This data is really going to help us advance our understanding of how these shocks interact...”

While NASA has previously used the schlieren photography technique to study shockwaves, the AirBOS 4 flights featured an upgraded version of the previous airborne schlieren systems, allowing researchers to capture three times the amount of data in the same amount of time.

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The first selfie in space was taken 52 years ago today

On this day in 1966, Buzz Aldrin took the first selfie in space while standing on his seat and hanging out of an open hatch as part of the Gemini XII mission. From NASA:

This “stand up” EVA (the first of three during the mission) was conducted with the hatch off while Aldrin stood on his seat, his upper body clear of the spacecraft. He completed his tasks with ease, including setting up an ultraviolet camera to image star fields, installing a movie camera, fixing a handrail, and retrieving a micrometeorite experiment. The flawless EVA lasted two hours and twenty minutes.

The second EVA, on November 13, was the real test of Aldrin’s extensive training. Attached to the spacecraft by an “umbilical” cord, he stepped out into space and began his work. The combination of underwater training, multiple restraints and handholds on both vehicles, and a new waist tether paid off: he was able to perform the needed tasks on both the Gemini XII and the GATV without a struggle. He rested periodically, which allowed him to recover between activities, and used the new restraints to position his body in diverse ways that weren’t possible on previous missions. The EVA was a resounding success.

For the final EVA, like the first one, Aldrin stood in his seat on the spacecraft. He discarded unneeded equipment and food containers, knowing they would eventually reenter Earth’s atmosphere and burn up, and took pictures of stars. Altogether, Aldrin spent five and a half hours conducting the Gemini XII spacewalks.

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Photographer turns nature photos into immersive rooms to explore

To exhibit his photography at large scale, Chris Engman builds rooms with interiors wrapped with his stunning photos of forests, deserts, and other landscapes. They beckon the viewer inside where, of course, the perspectives warp and shift. From Colossal:

Engman explains that once one enters the work its believability as a singular landscape becomes penetrated. Each step deeper inside the work makes the photographed landscape appear increasingly warped and unreal.

“Even so,” says Engman, “compared to a singular framed photograph the experience of this installation for the viewer is much more physical and immersive. The structure is a room, not an image of a room. The photograph is an object, in addition to being an illusion. It has weight, and volume, and changes as you walk around it. Making this installation has been a thrilling process, and this new way of working seems to afford many new possibilities.”

(photos by Tony Walsh, courtesy of the artist, and Luis De Jesus Los Angeles) Read the rest

School apologizes for promo photo manipulated to darken students' skin for "diversity"

Art school Émile Cohl in Lyon, France formally apologized after students noticed that a group photo on the school's United States promotional web site had been manipulated to make several of the people appear to have dark skin. The manipulated photo is at the very top of this post. Below it is another image, without the alterations, from the same series of snapshots. From The Guardian:

Antoine Rivière, the college director, told L’Express he was only made aware of the altered photo when he was contacted by some fifth-year students who appeared in it.

“We had sent a certain number of documents to an American communications agency in order to highlight our college,” he said. One of the photographs had been doctored without the school’s knowledge...

The school is planning to open a branch in the US in the near future.

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Broken film camera hacked into supercool wrist-cam

Photographer Alireza Rostami scavenged the lens and shutter from his broken Chinese Seagull TLR camera to create this fantastic wrist-worn camera complete with a self-timer. More at PetaPixel.

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NASA photographer's camera cooked by last week's SpaceX rocket launch

Senior NASA photographer Bill Ingalls apparently set up his Canon EOS 5DS at an unlucky spot near yesterday's SpaceX rocket launch. He placed it outside the pad perimeter yet the launch sparked a small brush fire that cooked the camera. "I had many other cameras much closer to the pad than this and all are safe," Ingalls wrote.

Fortunately, the SD cards didn't melt and he was able to access the final photos taken by the camera before its untimely death. Two of them are below.

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Wonderful toy photography reveals delightful alternate realities

Pro toy photographer Mitchel Wu creates these stunning scenes using "practical effects," physical effects created without computer-generated imagery.

I create and craft stories through toy photography...capturing the illusion of motion and emotion where none exist. Bridging the gap between toys and the stories in one's head - it's all fun and games...

See more on Wu's Instagram too!

(via PetaPixel)

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AI is taking photo enhancement to new extremes

Single image super-resolution (SISR) is an emerging technology that uses automated texture synthesis to enhance dithered and blurry photos to nearly pristine resolution. This example from EnhanceNet-PAT shows one type. There's even a free website called Let's Enhance where you can up-res your own images. Read the rest

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