Everyday objects up close

An relaxing compendium of macro photos of everday objects such as eggs, leaves and donuts, except for the loud reality-TV "zooming in" sound effect that makes you think Gordon is about to start shrieking at them.

Note the unnerving macro-scale resemblance of instant coffee to chicken nuggets.

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Mick Rock, titan of rock photography, explains some of his most iconic images on Instagram

More shut-in fun as legendary lensman, Mick Rock, goes through a collection of some of his most famous photographs and tells stories about them.

This incredible Bowie image, taken at Haddon Hall: “It was the light. It was unbelievable.”

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“It was the light. It was unbelievable.”

A post shared by Mick Rock (@therealmickrock) on Mar 26, 2020 at 10:00am PDT

Mötley Crüe: Dirty little buggers. So much fucking cocaine.

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Mick Rock at Home EP 1 : Motley Crue "Bubble Bath” - 1986 . Dirty little buggars. Where they needed to be! In a f💥ckin’ Mick Rock bubble bath. Hallelujah! #mickrockathome @motleycrue @thevinceneil @nikkisixxpixx @mr.mickmars @tommylee #thedirt #mickrockfilm #shot

A post shared by Mick Rock (@therealmickrock) on Mar 24, 2020 at 10:02am PDT

Queen (Bohemian Rhapsody cover): It's very hard to get away from this particular picture.

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If you missed my @morrisonhotelgallery live stream chat last week, here you go! I'll be posting never before seen photos and stories plus rare footage on my Instagram TV in the coming weeks, so be sure to check it out. xM

A post shared by Mick Rock (@therealmickrock) on Mar 22, 2020 at 12:12pm PDT

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Photoshop has a curious feature to easily grow trees and forests in your photos

If you have a photo in need of foliage, fire up Photoshop and generate for a 3D rendered Sakura Cherry Blossom, Redwood, Young Maple, Palm, or nearly three dozen other trees. Just go to Filter Render Tree and let your creativity, er, take root. This curious feature even enables you to tweak the leaf sizes, branch height, and other variables. But what's the story behind this curious feature? From Input:

The trees, it turns out, came in response to architectural artists who wanted to be able to drop trees into their work but struggled to smoothly integrate them into the image. Before the tree filter was introduced in 2014, designers would have to cut out a preexisting image of a tree taken at the right angle and then paste it in. “We thought it would be convenient if you could generate customizable trees that fit illustrations,” says Daichi Ito, the technical research artist who developed the tree filter for Adobe. “By ‘fit,’ I mean it doesn’t have a strong style; it’s somewhat realistic, but not photorealistic.”

Ito created the project as part of the development of an engine, codenamed Deco, that would help Photoshop create generative patterns. “Daichi came to us and said, ‘I can actually write a bunch of interesting scripts that leverage that Deco engine and allow us to generate all kinds of things,’” recalls Stephen Nielson, director of product management for Photoshop at Adobe. Ito spent a month writing the algorithm that created the generative images. “Generating tree data took me some more time,” he adds.

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Vintage snapshots of people sleeping

Esteemed vernacular photography collector Robert E. Jackson curated a dreamy collection of vintage snapshots of people snoozing. Goodnight.

From Flashbak:

The intimacy of sleep is a subject mainly found in snapshots as opposed to fine art photography, writes Robert E. Jackson. The reason is that to be a witness to such an action, the person holding the camera generally must have a close association with the person sleeping– such as being a friend, lover, or family member. There is a vulnerability to being caught unawares in the act of sleeping, yet there is also a beauty to which these images attest. While voyeuristic in nature, these photos derive from a sense of play- one of the defining aspects of snapshot photography.

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NASA's spectacular new 1.8 billion pixel panorama photo from Mars

Between November 24 and December 1, 2020, NASA's Curiosity rover captured the above image on the surface of Mars. The image contains nearly 1.8 billion pixels composed of more than 1,000 images. From NASA:

The rover's Mast Camera, or Mastcam, used its telephoto lens to produce the panorama and relied on its medium-angle lens to produce a lower-resolution panorama that includes the rover's deck and robotic arm.

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This New Orleans convenience store has a great Instagram account

From Rob Walker's excellent Art of Noticing newsletter, this recommendation to subscribe to the Instagram feed of a convenience store in New Orleans called Hank's Market:

This NYT writeup on bodegas “going viral on TikTok” reminded me of a current favorite Instagram account. Hank’s is a convenience store on St. Claude, in the Upper Ninth Ward of New Orleans. It’s not the kind of place you would expect to have a social media presence, per se, but it’s got a very fun Instagram account. Especially during Mardi Gras season — which is right now. Enjoy @hanks_supermarket.

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French photographer explains how she was able to take photos of Yakuza bosses' wives

Photographer Chloé Jafé worked as a hostess in a Tokyo bar to meet and gain the trust of members of the Japanese mafia. Six years later, she published a photography book called I Give You My Life, which according to BBC, "reveal hidden sides to the wives of men in the Japanese underworld – including the tattoos that cover their bodies."

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The Smithsonian just released 2.8 million images into the public domain

The Smithsonian Institution has just released 2.8 million images (2D and 3D) into the public domain via a new Smithsonian Open Access online platform where anyone can browse and download high-res files. And then reuse them! Or remix them! For whatever! For free! From Smithsonian:

Featuring data and material from all 19 Smithsonian museums, nine research centers, libraries, archives and the National Zoo, the new digital depot encourages the public to not just view its contents, but use, reuse and transform them into just about anything they choose—be it a postcard, a beer koozie or a pair of bootie shorts.

And this gargantuan data dump is just the beginning. Throughout the rest of 2020, the Smithsonian will be rolling out another 200,000 or so images, with more to come as the Institution continues to digitize its collection of 155 million items and counting...

Spanning the arts and humanities to science and engineering, the release compiles artifacts, specimens and datasets from an array of fields onto a single online platform. Noteworthy additions include portraits of Pocahontas and Ida B. Wells, images of Muhammad Ali’s boxing headgear and Amelia Earhart’s record-shattering Lockheed Vega 5B, along with thousands of 3-D models that range in size from a petite Eulaema bee just a couple centimeters in length to the Cassiopeia A supernova remnant, estimated at about 29 light-years across.

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Photo of boxing orangutan wins wildlife photography award

Yesterday, I posted Sam Rowley's fantastic photo of two brawling mice on a subway platform that won the London Natural History Museum's Wildlife Photographer of the Year LUMIX People's Choice award. Also in the animals-that-fight vein is Aaron Gekoski's photo of a pugilist orangutan, a beautiful and ultimately tragic image that earned Gekoski a Highly Commended award in the Natural History Museum's competition. From the photo caption:

Orangutans have been used in degrading performances at Safari World, Bangkok – and many other locations – for decades. The shows were temporarily stopped in 2004 due to international pressure, but today the shows continue – twice a day, every day – with hundreds of people paying to watch the orangutans box, dance, play the drums and more.

Image: Aaron Gekoski/Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London. Read the rest

Photo of mice brawling on a subway platform wins wildlife photography award

Sam Rowley's fantastic image of mice brawling over crumbs on a London Underground platform won the London Natural History Museum's Wildlife Photographer of the Year LUMIX People's Choice award.

"With the majority of the world living in urban areas and cities now, you have to tell the story about how people relate to wildlife," Rowley told CNN.

Over the course of a week, Rowley staked out multiple train stations each night to find the shot.

Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum, Sir Michael Dixon said that the image "provides a fascinating glimpse into how wildlife functions in a human-dominated environment."

The mice's behaviour is sculpted by our daily routine, the transport we use and the food we discard. This image reminds us that while we may wander past it every day, humans are inherently intertwined with the nature that is on our doorstep – I hope it inspires people to think about and value this relationship more."

Image: Sam Rowley/Wildlife Photographer of the Year. Wildlife Photographer of the Year is developed and produced by the Natural History Museum, London. Read the rest

Interview with photographer Meeno Peluce about his favorite tools

My guest this week on the Cool Tools Podcast is Meeno Peluce. Meeno grew up as a successful child actor in Hollywood, and his kid sister is Soleil Moon Frye of Punky Brewster fame. He then moved behind the camera and has spent his life photographing and filming the world around him, from the burning ghats in Varanasi to the luminous landscapes of Tinseltown. He’s a proud Papa and ask him his profession, and he’ll tell you he’s a Meeno, and all that might entail. He gave himself the name when he was two in Nepal. It’s been an adventure of individualism and a constant search for personal experience ever since. You can find him on Instagram @meeno_the_man.

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I am bananas for these behind-the-scenes photos of Planet of the Apes

Makeup artist John Chambers' work on Planet of the Apes (1968) is a high point in Hollywood prosthetics. The characters don't look like real apes, but they have an interesting mix of ape and human. Combined with costume designer Morton Haack's outfits, the overall effect is spectacular and unforgettable. I learned that photographer Dennis Stock took a bunch of behind-the-scenes photos during the shooting of the movie, and you can browse them at Magnum Photos.

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Boda Boda fashion show: equipping Nairobi motor taxi drivers with outfits to match their glorious bikes

Boda Bodas are the ubiquitous motorbike taxis of Nairobi; Boda Boda drivers are in an arms-race to produce the most elaborately decorated motorbikes in order to differentiate themselves from the competition. Read the rest

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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The beauty of sewers before the first flush

Our cities' sewers are some of the most incredible structures in the built environment. In a new book, "An Underground Guide to Sewers: or: Down, Through and Out in Paris, London, New York, &c." historian Stephen Halliday explores the systems (and people) that deal with our shit so we don't have to. From the book description:

Halliday begins with sanitation in the ancient cities of Mesopotamia, Greece, and Imperial Rome, and continues with medieval waterways (also known as “sewage in the street”); the civil engineers and urban planners of the industrial age, as seen in Liverpool, Boston, Paris, London, and Hamburg; and, finally, the biochemical transformations of the modern city. The narrative is illustrated generously with photographs, both old and new, and by archival plans, blueprints, and color maps tracing the development of complex sewage systems in twenty cities. The photographs document construction feats, various heroics and disasters, and ingenious innovations; new photography from an urban exploration collective offers edgy takes on subterranean networks in cities including Montreal, Paris, London, Berlin, and Prague.

"An Underground Guide to Sewers: or: Down, Through and Out in Paris, London, New York, &c." (Amazon)

More images at Smithsonian: "These Photos Capture the World’s Sewer Systems When They Were Brand New"

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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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Andrew McCarthy's astronomical photography

Andrew McCarthy, posting on Instagram as Cosmic Background, takes amazing astronomical photographs. Pictured above a breathtakingly detailed shot of the moon constructed from 100,000 individual photographs. You can buy prints of this and other works of his at his online store.

My first lunar image of 2020 is also one of my most detailed. This is a blend of around 100k photos, which allowed me to sharpen the image and overcome some of the fuzzing caused by our turbulent atmosphere. The colors you see are real, caused by variations in the composition of the regolith. This first quarter moon also is one of the best for showing crater detail, as the long shadows long the terminator really make the details pop.

Below is a rather menacing photo of the sun looming behing Mercury.

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Behold, the transit of Mercury! This is little guy at around 9:45am Pacific this morning. I captured hundreds of thousands of frames of the event so I could build an animation, but didn't want to wait so long before sharing something. Mercury is about the size of our moon, so seeing it like this really puts the scale of the sun in perspective. #mercurytransit2019 #astrophotography #space #astronomy #opteam #optcorp #meadeinstruments #mercury

A post shared by Andrew McCarthy (@cosmic_background) on Nov 11, 2019 at 11:17am PST

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After I posted a picture of some star trails taken from my backyard I had a lot of positive feedback and requests for prints, but frankly I knew I could do better.

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