These algae prints were misattributed for more than a century before art historian Larry Schaaf discovered that they were the work of British botanist Anna Atkins.
As a pioneer of cyanotype photograms, a process in which sunlight (not a camera) imprints over objects on a piece of coated paper, Atkins produced the blueprints for a book entitled Manual of British Algæ in 1841. She just never got any credit.
There’s a compelling story everywhere you go. But some places (e.g. New York) are more content rich than others.
All you need to do is walk a few blocks and observe with the cerebration of your senses.
The graffiti scrawled on the outside of million dollar apartments, the street smoke billowing out from the sewers, the smell of hot dogs and nuts from the street vendors, the sound of delivery trucks running through potholes, and the scratch you get from someone’s suitcase as they rush by you.
Everything is attractive, a potential a souvenir of the present moment.
New York manufactures an excess of content and inspiration, much like the Internet. Such hyperactivity is overwhelming and hard to parse — some thrive on The City’s ubiquitous stimulus, others feel compelled to escape to Florida to refuel.
External provocation is integral to any environment. After all, that’s why we travel — to be astounded by newness.
If boredom is your enemy, seeking interesting places with variable rewards may be your calling. But that last thing you want is to get abused by the infinite. It’s better to scroll with intention to coalesce out of the void of 24/7 distraction.
Today, the mobile phone makes everyone a photographer. But how many people can create what they actually visualize in their head?
For Ansel Adams, what he saw in front of him was different than what he pictured in his mind’s eye. So he created the ‘zone system,’ allowing him to play with the aperture to achieve different hues of black and white.
Of course, he had to do all this before he even took the picture. Ansel Adams was applying filters before the Polaroid. Today, we can take any image and photoshop afterward to make it look like we want. We also have the luxury of sharing it immediately. But the abundance of photos drowns out great talent. Scarcity worked out in Adam’s favor.
Yet, Ansel Adams was excited about the future of what would become electronic photography. New mediums require new ways of thinking. But the photographic intention remains the same:
“There are no rules for good photographs, there are only good photographs.”
The proliferation of images undermines our ability to pay attention to any single one. So we keep skimming, scrolling, consuming more and understanding less; all the while contributing to the chaos to avoid missing out.
On top of this, all Instagram images tend to look the same. It’s easier to conform to selfies, food porn, and minimalism than it is to stand out in the shadows of weird.
Even the anti-conformist photos all look the same while the well-choreographed, awe-inspiring National Geographic pictures lose out to all the artistic sameness.
“We have come to a point in society where we are all taking too many photos and spending very little time looking at them.”