Photography and our Civil War

Click to enlargeGettysburg

❝ While photographs of earlier conflicts do exist, the American Civil War is considered the first major conflict to be extensively photographed. Not only did intrepid photographers venture onto the fields of battle, but those very images were then widely displayed and sold in ever larger quantities nationwide.

Photographers such as Mathew Brady, Alexander Gardner, and Timothy O’Sullivan found enthusiastic audiences for their images as America’s interests were piqued by the shockingly realistic medium. For the first time in history, citizens on the home front could view the actual carnage of far away battlefields. Civil War photographs stripped away much of the Victorian-era romance around warfare.

❝ Photography during the Civil War, especially for those who ventured out to the battlefields with their cameras, was a difficult and time consuming process. Photographers had to carry all of their heavy equipment, including their darkroom, by wagon. They also had to be prepared to process cumbersome light-sensitive images in cramped wagons.

Today pictures are taken and stored digitally, but in 1861, the newest technology was wet-plate photography, a process in which an image is captured on chemically coated pieces of plate glass. This was a complicated process done exclusively by photographic professionals…

❝ While photography of the 1860’s would seem primitive by the technological standards of today, many of the famous Civil War photographers of the day were producing sophisticated three-dimensional images or “stereo views.” These stereo view images proved to be extremely popular among Americans and a highly effective medium for displaying life-like images…

With these advancements in photographic technology, the Civil War became a true watershed moment in the history of photography. The iconic photos of the American Civil War would not only directly affect how the war was viewed from the home front, but it would also inspire future combat photographers who would take their cameras to the trenches of Flanders, the black sands of Iwo Jima, the steaming jungles of Vietnam, and the deserts of Afghanistan.

RTFA for techniques and technology. Photography brought a new dimension to recording history. hopefully, it continues to bring new dimensions into understanding politics and war.

A rose by any other name…

Click to enlarge

NGC 7129 is a fascinating and terribly lovely object. It’s a stellar nursery, a site of active star formation, buried deep within an invisible cloud of very cold molecular gas and dust…

NASA’s Spitzer Space Telescope sees in the infrared, and detects dust. Some of this dust defines the blister in the larger cloud (red), while some is coming from the stars ejecting material (green). The overall effect makes NGC 7129 look like a closed rose bud.


Star Trails Over the Tower Oinoe

Astrophotography by Anthony Ayiomamitis

If you climbed to the top of this 13th century stone tower, it looks like you could reach out and touch the North Celestial Pole, the point at the center of all the star trail arcs.

The well-composed image with scattered meteor streaks was recorded over a period of five and half hours as a series of 45 second long exposures spanning the dark of the night on July 7/8. The exposures were made with a digital camera fixed to a tripod near Marathon, Greece, planet Earth.

Of course, the graceful star trails reflect the Earth’s daily rotation around its axis. By extension, the axis of rotation leads to the center of the concentric arcs in the night sky. Convenient for northern hemisphere night sky photographers and celestial navigators alike, the bright star Polaris is very close to the North Celestial Pole and so makes the short bright trail in the tower’s central gap.

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Stormy sunrise panorama

Stormy panorama sunrise

The sunrise is behind me. Facing West over La Cieneguilla valley to a volcanic escarpment. Actually, part of the southern boundary of the Colorado Plateau. The sun rising directly behind me is shining through the storm you see to the right only in patches one of which I just caught shining on that escarpment. The panorama is about 160º.

A lovely mood, lovely sight on my first walk of the day, today.

[Open the photo up to full screen if you can. I reduced it to 1920 pixels wide. The original is over 16000 pixels wide.]

3200 naked blue-painted people in Hull on a Saturday

Click to enlargeSpencer Tunick

Is this my spot?

Sea of Hull created a huge buzz around the city on Saturday when thousands of blue-painted naked people flooded the streets of Old Town for a Spencer Tunick photoshoot.

The event offers a taste of what is to come in 2017 when Hull becomes the UK City of Culture. And if its success is anything to go by, next year really will be one of the best in our history…

Tunick was thrilled with the results. He said: “The Sea of Hull installation was one of the most fantastic projects I’ve ever done, and it was inspiring to be able to intertwine the city’s maritime heritage against an urban back-drop throughout the whole piece.

Is Steve Bruce in one of these photos?

Pic of the day — nighttime photo of thunderstorm forming over the Pacific Ocean

Click to enlargeSantiago Borja

This is one of the most striking thunderstorm photos we’ve seen.

Taken from a plane at the moment of a lightning flash, it illustrates both the ferocity of a turbulent atmosphere and the beauty of Mother Nature. A strong, roiling updraft; a smooth, flat anvil; and the overshooting top — all features of intense developing thunderstorms.

The photo was taken over the Pacific Ocean from the cockpit of an airplane. The photographer and pilot, Santiago Borja, says he was circling around it at 37,000 feet altitude en route to South America when he captured this spectacular view.

Borja said it was difficult to get the shot in near-darkness and during a bumpy ride. “Storms are tricky because the lightning is so fast, there is no tripod and there is a lot of reflection from inside lights.”…

“I like this photo so much because you can feel the amazing size of the storm and its power,” Borja said. “But at the same time it’s wonderful how peacefully you can fly around it in still air without touching it.”

Borja is a first officer for LATAM Ecuador Airlines. The photo was taken with his Nikon D750 camera south of Panama on a Boeing 767-300.

Here in high desert country we tend to talk about approaching storms in terms of size and “tops” – as in doppler radar images. This critter looks like an orange or red top to me. Woo hoo.

Thanks, Honeyman