2008 11 05
Coverage of Election Day 2008

The Newseum has a fun feature called Today’s Front Pages, the front pages of newspapers from around the US and the world. As of my posting this at 3 AM Eastern time Nov 5, it hasn’t yet ticked over to showing the Nov 5 papers, but maybe it will have by the time you read this. Here’s the link if you’re reading this after Nov 5 2008.

Right now the NYT home page has a tall all-caps OBAMA as its lone topline, then a smaller subhead below. I like this presentation best of the newspaper pages I’ve seen so far.

Another site that should have good stuff tomorrow: The Big Picture, the Boston Globe’s blog of giant-size photos.

Howls of outrage (3)

2007 11 26
More pictures not taken

Posted by in: Photography

In a brief post, Jason Kottke writes about a missed photograph, reminds me of this post, and acquaints me with a website collecting pictures not taken.

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2007 09 23
Pictures not taken

The other day on the subway, I saw a man dash down a set of stairs and squeeze – just barely! – through the closing subway doors. He was alone, and there was no one to congratulate him on making it, so he was left to do the job himself, which he did with a quick but very satisfied little smile. I see this sort of thing every day, but for some reason the way he was just so very pleased with himself amused me.

It would have been nearly impossible to capture the moment with a camera. I would have needed the camera with me, out and pointed already in his direction, and even then I wouldn’t have taken the shot for fear of rudeness; because I wouldn’t have seen that great little grin coming; and because I would surely have botched the shot anyway. Still, I wish I had been able to take that shot because I wish you could see it too.

My all time favourite picture not taken was also not taken on the subway. It was an A train, I believe, on its way to Jamaica, Queens. I sat across from two 45 or 50 year old women, probably Russian, one of whom was showing quite a bit of cleavage. They were together, talking intermittently, but talking in a way that suggested they were perhaps colleagues rather than friends. At a certain point the busty woman looked down the subway car away from her companion, and her companion’s eyes traveled quickly down to the busty woman’s cleavage. I have a generally lousy visual memory, but I still have a reasonably clear mental image of the flicker of barely suppressed disgust and disapproval on the companion’s face.

I would have treasured a picture of that moment my whole life, but all I have from it is a fading mental image and now this little scrap of a blog post.

So, what are your favourite pictures not taken?

Howls of outrage (3)

2005 10 22
The Beauty of Afghanistan Remembered

Posted by in: Afghanistan, Photography

Photos from 1977.


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2004 05 24
Sontag on the Abu Ghraib photographs

I was looking forward to Susan Sontag’s piece, “The Pictures Are Us”, in the New York Times Magazine this last weekend, but although I agreed with parts of it, I ended up finding it disappointing. I was looking forward to it because I enjoyed Sontag’s recent book, Regarding the Pain of Others, about photographic depictions of violence and war, and so I thought that she might have something interesting to say about the pictures at Abu Ghraib. She did, but it was mixed with things which were not especially insightful, and some which I thought quite mistaken.
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2004 04 19
The Yellow Kid and the Killer Philologist

Posted by in: Photography

American Quarterly has several online essays in American studies. The ones I’ve looked at are neato…

This one describes the early history of the comic strip (the Yellow Kid, etc) with pictures.

And this one describes changing attitudes toward photographic evidence in courts in the 1800s. I’ve excerpted the article here, and I find it fascinating. Think about the analogous positions about videotapes as evidence, videotaped testimony, and cameras in the courtroom, and whether they tend to reveal or obscure truth.

The page I’ve linked to is of particular interest to me, because it concerns local Ithaca “learned ruffian” psycho Edward Ruloff, whose preserved brain sits in a jar in the hallway where i teach.

It turns out he was the defendant in a court case in 1870 that first ruled photographs admissible as evidence in court. After serving time for the murders of his wife and young daughter, Ruloff continued his criminal ways. He and two ne’er-do-well accomplices killed a man while robbing a dry-goods store to support Ruloff’s philological studies, as a way to prestige for all three of them. They were chased and the accomplices drowned. Days later, photos were taken of their bodies, to record the faces for Ruloff’s trial.

More in the extended entry…
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