During his lifetime, MIT engineer and businessman Nick DeWolf founded the giant electronic testing company Teradyne and designed more than 300 semiconductor and electronic test systems. In his spare time he was also an avid photography enthusiast, carrying a camera with him at all times. After his death, his son-in-law Steve Lundeen began working to archive and share the enormous body of work. Lundeen is currently publishing the original sets of photographs to Flickr at a rate of 20-50 images per day, and has already uploaded a whopping 50,000 photographs. You can follow along and enjoy the time-travelling pre-digital stream of images by following the Nick DeWolf Photo Archive’s photostream.
Here’s a video that’s fascinating in light of Kodak’s bankruptcy announcement today. It was created back in 2006 for the company by partners+napier, and was shown at the All Things Digital Conference in California before Kodak CEO Antonio Perez took the stage to talk about the company’s digital transformation. The predictions made in the video are seemingly prophetic, accurately describing the current landscape of digital and mobile photography. It’s too bad that Kodak couldn’t right its ship, even though it had a good idea of where things were headed.
Fatescapes is a series of images by visual artist Pavel Maria Smejkal consisting of iconic photographs with their subjects Photoshopped out of them. The New York Times writes,
[...] Pavel Maria Smejkal goes a step further and forces us to reconsider the veracity of historical images and the photographer’s role by digitally removing the people that made these images resonant. What is left is the scene as it might have looked just minutes before or after the photographer passed by. These images are reminiscent of a time, before Photoshop, when photographs were believed to be a reflection of reality. Mr. Smejkal’s alterations question whether photographs should be viewed as accurate representation.
See if you can recognize each of these famous historical photographs. The answers are at the end of the post. Read more…
Ever wonder how the US government managed to capture spy photos with satellites during the Cold War without the help of digital cameras, computers, or wireless transmission? The Atlantic has a fascinating article on the various techniques that were used:
From 1971 to 1986 a total of 20 satellites were launched, each containing 60 miles (100 kilometers) of film and sophisticated cameras that orbited the earth snapping vast, panoramic photographs of the Soviet Union, China and other potential foes. The film was shot back through the earth’s atmosphere in buckets that parachuted over the Pacific Ocean, where C-130 Air Force planes snagged them with grappling hooks.
This photo shows what 5MB of hard drive storage looked like in 1956. The IBM 305 RAMAC hard disk was state of the art, weighed just shy of a ton, required a forklift to be carried around, and was composed of 50 separate 24-inch discs that occupied 16 square feet. The annual cost of using it was a staggering $35,000 — steep even in today’s money. Nowadays most RAW photos outweigh the storage capabilities of that behemoth of an external hard drive…
Did you know that in vintage tintype photographs of infants mothers were often present in the photo but hidden by a veil? Subjects needed to remain still due to the longer exposure times required back then, so mothers were often asked to hold their children tightly while the portraits were being exposed. It was common practice back then, but the resulting photos are pretty eerie when you look at them now. Read more…
This might look like some kind of microscopic organism, but it’s actually a high-speed photograph of a nuclear explosion. It was captured less than 1 millisecond after the detonation using a rapatronic camera, which is capable of exposure times as brief as 10 nanoseconds (one nanosecond is one billionth of a second). The photograph was shot from roughly 7 miles away during the Tumbler-Snapper tests in Nevada (1952). The fireball is roughly 20 meters in diameter, and three times hotter than the surface of the sun.
The first known light painting photographs were made way back in 1914, when Frank and Lillian Moller Gilbreth used small lights and long exposure photos to capture the motion of workers. Subjects ranged from handkerchief folders to bricklayers. The photos weren’t meant as art, but were instead made to help develop ways to increase employee output and simplify job tasks. Read more…
Here’s some interesting color footage showing the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1939. Tom Pappalardo stumbled upon it after buying some 8mm film from a junk shop. He writes,
I bought this reel at a junk shop in Northampton, Massachusetts (I think?) about a decade ago. It sat unwatched in a box of other random Super 8/8mm reels for quite awhile, until I decided I wanted to capture some of my family’s own home movies. Since I had the projector set up, I ended up sifting through all my other ‘mystery’ reels, and this was one of them.
Hopefully memory cards also last 72 years for people of the future to discover in the same way… Hope you guys are having a good Thanksgiving!
The George Eastman House in Rochester, NY is the world’s oldest museum dedicated to photography. A couple years ago, curator Todd Gustavson wrote a book on the history of photography featuring the museum’s gigantic collection of historical cameras. This behind-the-scenes video with Gustavson gives a glimpse into the drool-worthy warehouse and a brief tour of some legendary cameras.