LIFE Magazine’s Best Pictures: Iconic Images by the 20th Century’s Greatest Photographers, 1936-1972 – LIFE

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This LIFE Magazine gallery is well worth a look. I’ve referenced a couple of the photographs before, but it’s testament to the power of a photo to define history. Your favourites will change with time. At the moment, mine is the one of Kim Novak sitting down in a dining car on a train: every pair of eyes is glued to her. Charismatic woman!

LIFE Magazine’s Best Pictures: Iconic Images by the 20th Century’s Greatest Photographers, 1936-1972 – LIFE.

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The rise of the camera-phone

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This is a good long article over at the Guardian about the dominant position the camera phone now plays in all our lives — even those of us who don’t have one. The best camera, of course, is the one you have with you, which makes the camera phone the best camera in the history of photography. On the other hand, I’m reminded of Don Delillo’s novel White Noise and the scene that takes place at “the most photographed barn in America.” As Murray Siskind says in the novel, nobody sees the barn.

It’s concerned me since I became a parent that there’s a tendency to attend events involving my kids and spend too much time on the photo opportunity and not enough time being there and experiencing it. I’ve become resistant, in recent years, to taking many photos at all at these kind of events and I reserve my photography for when the light is right. But then I’m old-fashioned enough to still want to carry a real camera rather than a phone. Here’s a snip from the article:

Another great thinker, the Leeds-based sociologist Zygmunt Bauman, wrote in his book Liquid Love that, in a modern world in which those purportedly fixed and durable ties of family, class, religion, marriage have melted away, we look for something else to hold us together. Hence, no doubt, the rise of social networking sites – and hence, too, the feverish snapping with camera-phones to take images that can validate our existence to our Twitter followers, our speed-dial intimates, our online “friends”. It’s a new Cartesian cogito: I photograph, therefore I am (and don’t my uploaded images glam up my Facebook profile a treat?). Maybe Marcuse was wrong: we’re not so much in thrall to technology, as using it for an unanticipated emancipatory project.

In that context it’s not enough to moan, as Telegraph columnist Nigel Farndale did recently, that “photography, once a noble art, has become, thanks to the move to digital, a mental illness” Riffing on the verse of Welsh poet WH Davies, Farndale wrote: “What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare. Click. No time to stand beneath the boughs – click, click – and stare as long as sheep or cows. Click, click, bloody click.”

BBC photographer prevented from shooting St Paul’s because he might be “al Quaeda operative” – Boing Boing

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The real damage from terrorist attacks doesn’t come from the explosion. The real damage is done after the explosion, by the victims, who repeatedly and determinedly attack themselves, giving over reason in favor of terror. Every London cop who stops someone from taking a picture of a public building … does the terrorist’s job for him. … There were two al Quaeda operatives at St Paul’s that day: the cop and her volunteer sidekick, who were about Osama bin Laden’s business in London all day long.

via BBC photographer prevented from shooting St Paul’s because he might be “al Quaeda operative” – Boing Boing.

Guardian article on the extent of photo retouching in the media

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Now you see it, now you don’t.

In 2007, a study at the University of Missouri found that a wide variety of women felt noticeably worse about themselves after viewing pictures of models in magazine adverts for just three minutes. Another study in 1999, found that nearly 70% of teenage girls surveyed said their idea of the “perfect” body shape was influenced by the pictures they saw in magazines.

Desktop picture fans

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Fans of my ever-changing desktop pictures will be interested to learn that my current pic is a cropped version of one of these utterly sublime pictures of the space shuttle in transit past the sun.

Looks like it was taken with the kind of telescope and digital camera set-up that is well within the budget of a serious hobbyist. So what if the children need shoes?