Visiting the dead on Google Street View

Over at OK Whatever, Jessie Schiewe tells of people who have looked up family addresses on Google Street View and found ghostly images of their dead loved ones in the midst of their everyday lives -- mowing the lawn, grabbing the mail, washing the car. From OK Whatever:

...For most people, finding dead relatives in Google Street View can be a great comfort. The father-in-law of a Reddit user called lovelyriver2929 was elated when he discovered his late-wife standing in front of their home in one of the photos taken of their address.

“He goes and looks at it sometimes,” she wrote. “He loves it because it was just her doing something completely normal on a completely normal day.”

For some people, it’s a reminder of what their loved ones looked like before they got sick, when they were still healthy enough to go outside and wash the car or mow the lawn. Sometimes these are even the last known images to be taken of a person.

“My grandpa died in 2017 and no one had any pictures with him from recent years. He only took photos when he was holding babies, and all us grandkids are in our teens and 20s,” one Reddit user wrote. “But I did this same thing and found a Google Street View photo of him mowing his front lawn from 2016. It was really good to see him doing something he loved to do and was always doing when he was here.”

And then sometimes, the ghosts vanish. Read the rest

The interesting story behind Dorothea Lange's famous "Migrant Mother" photo

In the 1930s photographer Dorothea Lange was hired by the U.S. government’s Farm Security Administration (FSA) to take photos of farm workers affected by the Great Depression. She took this photo of Florence Owens Thompson with her children in 1936 in Nipomo, California and titled it "Migrant Mother."

“I saw and approached the hungry and desperate mother, as if drawn by a magnet," Lange said years later in an interview. "I do not remember how I explained my presence or my camera to her, but I do remember she asked me no questions. I made five exposures, working closer and closer from the same direction... She and her children had been living on frozen vegetables from the field and wild birds the children caught. The pea crop had frozen; there was no work. Yet they could not move on, for she had just sold the tires from the car to buy food.”

According to Moma, however, "Thompson later contested Lange’s account. When a reporter interviewed her in the 1970s, she insisted that she and Lange did not speak to each other, nor did she sell the tires of her car. Thompson said that Lange had either confused her for another farmer or embellished what she had understood of her situation in order to make a better story."

Image: Dorothea Lange. Public Domain Read the rest

Something big smashed into Jupiter

Amateur astrophotographer Ethan Chappel was using his telescope to look for Perseid meteors on Wednesday night when he happened to capture an image of something very large slamming into Jupiter. It was most likely a massive meteor. From Sky and Telescope:

After running the camera data through a program designed to alert the user to just such transient events, Chappel spotted a flash of light in the planet's South Equatorial Belt (SEB). It expanded from a pinpoint to a small dot before fading away — telltale signs of a possible impact based on previous events observed at Jupiter....

If confirmed this would be the 7th recorded impact at the solar system's biggest planet since July 1994, when 21 fragments of Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 slammed into the planet in succession to create a rosary of dark impact boils visible in amateur telescopes.

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Astonishing new portrait and video of Jupiter

NASA has just released this incredible image of Jupiter taken by the Hubble Space Telescope on June 27, 2019. From NASA:

This new Hubble Space Telescope view of Jupiter, taken on June 27, 2019, reveals the giant planet's trademark Great Red Spot, and a more intense color palette in the clouds swirling in Jupiter's turbulent atmosphere than seen in previous years. The colors, and their changes, provide important clues to ongoing processes in Jupiter's atmosphere. The new image was taken in visible light as part of the Outer Planets Atmospheres Legacy program, or OPAL. The program provides yearly Hubble global views of the outer planets to look for changes in their storms, winds and clouds. Hubble's Wide Field Camera 3 observed Jupiter when the planet was 400 million miles from Earth, when Jupiter was near "opposition" or almost directly opposite the Sun in the sky....

This animation (below) of a rotating Jupiter was assembled from a Hubble Space Telescope photographic mosaic of almost the entire planet. The resulting flat map was computer-projected onto a sphere to create a rotating globe (excluding the polar regions above 80 degrees latitude). Jupiter completes one rotation every 9.8 hours. The giant planet's trademark Great Red Spot is the orange-colored oval that is as big as Earth. Distinct parallel bands of roiling clouds dominate our view above Jupiter's deep hydrogen/helium atmosphere. The colorful cloud bands are confined by jet streams blowing in opposite directions at different latitudes. A characteristic string of white oval-shaped anticyclones appears along one latitude band in the planet’s southern hemisphere.

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Man interviewed at Amazon, didn't get the job, but they used his photo on their jobs site

Several years ago, Jordan Guthmann, a VP at Edelman PR, interviewed for a job at Amazon. While he was on the company campus chatting with folks, someone asked to take his photo and he kindly obliged. Guthmann didn't get the gig, but apparently he at least looked like the right person for the job: Until a few days ago his photo appeared on Amazon's Talent Acquisition website. After Guthmann tweeted about it, Amazon quickly swapped out the photo. As Petapixel commented, hopefully the person in the current photo actually got the job!

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Cheap frozen dinners styled and photographed as dishes from five star restaurants

Taylor Jackson challenged himself to photograph cheap pre-packaged frozen dinners so the look like a fancy food photo of a dish from a posh restaurant. To get it done, he sought the help of a professional chef pal who is a master at plating. From PetaPixel:

The actual shooting starts around the 14 minutes mark (in the video below), if you want to skip straight to that to see how Jackson made this shoot work using only one camera (Nikon Z6) and one lens (NIKKOR Z 35mm f/1.8S). No macro lens. No artificial light. None of those crazy food photography tricks we’ve all heard about.

View this post on Instagram

$3 TV Dinner Challenge! Yesterday @liamgoodvisuals and I challenged @the_nomad_chef to plate TV Dinners to look like 5 star meals. Full video out Monday. Until then - left is a Swanson’s Salisbury Steak, middle is a no name fettuccine alfredo, and the right is a Korean Beef Bowl. Shot on a Nikon Z6 with the 35mm S. #cheflife #nikon #nikonz6 #foodphotography #foodstagram #foody

A post shared by 📷 Taylor Jackson (@taylorjackson) on Jul 18, 2019 at 6:19am PDT

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Is this a dog wearing a gas mask or an albino baby elephant?

Posted by redditor Cutcakenotwrists to r/confusing_perspective. Read the rest

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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"Then and Now" photos of Death Valley spots used for Tatooine in Star Wars

The excellent "Then & Now Movie Locations" visited the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death Valley National Park where some of the Tatooine shots were filmed for Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977). It's a beautiful locale but I can understand why Luke would want to be teleported off this rock.

For more shots of terrestrial locations used for Tatooine, here's a 2015 article from The Guardian about the remains of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru's homestead in the Sahara desert.

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Shipping container converted into a large format camera, darkroom, and gallery

UK educator and photographer Brendan Barry converted a shipping container into a large format film camera. Inside is a self-contained darkroom to develop the photos along with a gallery to display them. He describes it as “the world’s biggest, slowest, and most impractical Polaroid camera.”

Above is Exploredinary's documentary about the Container Camera. And you can read more about the project at PetaPixel.

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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

Wonderful vintage snapshots showing our love for the moon

In celebration of the 50th anniversary of the first human Moon landing on July 20, Vernacular photography collector Robert E. Jackson curated a lovely collection of vintage snapshots related to the Moon. I've always gotten a kick out of how TV viewers around the world used to snap photos of their screens to commemorate momentous moments.

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Rare image of US Air Force's secretive space plane in orbit

Astrophotographer Ralf Vandebergh captured an image of the US Air Force's X-37B space plane in orbit. The reusable, uncrewed space vehicle, designated OTV-5, is on a secret testing mission since its launch in September 2017. From Vandebergh's post at Spaceweather.com:

I have been hunting for the OTV-5 since months and saw it visually in May. When I tried to observe it again mid June, it didnt meet the predicted time and path. It turned out to have maneuvered to another orbit. Thanks to the amateur satellite observers-network, it was rapidly found in orbit again and I was able to take some images on June 30 and July 2. This most recent pass was almost overhead. The OTV is a small version of the classic Space Shuttle, it is really a small object, even at only 300 km altitude, so dont expect the detail level of ground based images of the real Space Shuttle. Considering this, the attached images succeeded beyond expectations. We can recognize a bit of the nose, Payload Bay and tail of this mini-shuttle with even a sign of some smaller detail.

Images were taken through a 10 inch F/4,8 aperture Newtonian telescope with an Astrolumina ALccd 5L-11 mono CMOS camera. Tracking was fully manually through a 6x30 finderscope.

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Astonishing X-ray image of the whole sky

NASA released this incredible image of the sky that depicts 22 months of X-ray data captured from the International Space Station using the Neutron star Interior Composition Explorer (NICER). From NASA:

“Even with minimal processing, this image reveals the Cygnus Loop, a supernova remnant about 90 light-years across and thought to be 5,000 to 8,000 years old,” said Keith Gendreau, the mission’s principal investigator at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland. “We’re gradually building up a new X-ray image of the whole sky, and it’s possible NICER’s nighttime sweeps will uncover previously unknown sources.”

NICER’s primary mission is to determine the size of dense remains of dead stars called neutron stars — some of which we see as pulsars — to a precision of 5%. These measurements will finally allow physicists to solve the mystery of what form of matter exists in their incredibly compressed cores. Pulsars, rapidly spinning neutron stars that appear to “pulse” bright light, are ideally suited to this “mass-radius” research and are some of NICER’s regular targets.

Other frequently visited pulsars are studied as part of NICER's Station Explorer for X-ray Timing and Navigation Technology (SEXTANT) experiment, which uses the precise timing of pulsar X-ray pulses to autonomously determine NICER’s position and speed in space. It’s essentially a galactic GPS system. When mature, this technology will enable spacecraft to navigate themselves throughout the solar system — and beyond.

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Beautiful book, augmented reality, and film about stunning rocket launches

In the realm of rocket geeks and space nerds, filmmakers MaryLiz Bender and Ryan Chylinski have dream jobs. The pair have the equivalent of "backstage passes" to SpaceX, NASA and ULA rocket launches where they capture and share breathtaking videos that convey the power, risk, and thrill of space exploration. The work of their studio, called Cosmic Perspective, is visceral, wondrous, and inspiring. Now Bender and Chylinski are creating a fascinating art book enhanced with augmented reality along with a companion short film "documenting humanity's grand adventure to space." Titled "Guidance Internal: Lessons from Astronauts," the book, film, and their touring Cosmic Perspective show lies at the intersection of science and art "to inspire hope, elevate empathy, and bring people together." They've launched a Kickstarter to support the project and it looks, well, stellar.

From Kickstarter:

The art and the pages in this book come to life immediately teleporting you to rocket launch pads, directly to our intimate interviews with astronauts and the people sending missions to space. We fuse art with science blending our love of high-dynamic range photography with compelling video to capture the emotion, excitement, and gravity of these events. We also give you a front-row seat to transformative performances by artists inspired by these experiences.

We place autonomous high-resolution and ultra-high speed video cameras at the launchpads of SpaceX, NASA, and ULA. These are cameras we place well ahead of the liftoff, design to survive the elements and, since no humans can be anywhere near the rockets, trigger without any human interaction.

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Bizarre family selfie in which half of man's body has vanished

Reddit user BeardoGREG shared this unusual selfie of his family. I was mightily confused until one commenter explained it: "You were shot out of a cannon. The cannon is behind you and you are flying straight into the camera with that determined look on your face."

(r/confusing_perspective) 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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