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Pop Chart Lab

100 History-Making Cameras on One Poster

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Pop Chart Lab

These days we take it for granted that we can capture a single moment with the click of a button. Photography hasn’t always been as simple as it is now, but it has arguably always been pretty awesome. To celebrate photography or, more accurately, the devices that make it possible, Pop Chart Lab has designed a stunning new poster that tracks the history of the camera from 1888 to today. The poster, called “A Visual Compendium of Cameras,” features hand-illustrated images of 100 different cameras that can be considered landmarks in the history of photography.

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The poster begins with the original 1888 Kodak camera, concludes with two new 2013 models, and depicts influential cameras from nearly every decade in between. According to Will Prince, Managing Editor at Pop Chart Lab, the selection process for the featured cameras was guided by three “i”s: They sought to include “cameras that were important to the evolution of photography, cameras that were interesting or weird, and finally cameras that have great cultural influence, be it through general iconography or ubiquity," he says.

Some cameras, like Kodak's Brownie and the first SLRs, were included because “they set the standard for new generations of photography and how people captured reality in still images," Prince says. "Certain devices, while not necessarily changing the mold of the medium, were so fun—[like in their] body design and quality of the developed picture—that they achieved almost cult followings in the tech world. This goes especially for plastic 'toy' cameras like the Diana F+ and the Lomography Action Sampler, whose lousy-but-awesome outputs are coveted by vintage-obsessed photography devotees."

The images on this poster can help us appreciate the advances photographic technology has made throughout these generations, to the point where we can now snap photos with our iPhones, a device that also made the list. “It's no secret that most photo-philes cringe when someone shows them an ‘almost professional’ shot taken on someone's phone," Prince says. "But there's also no denying the iPhone's influence—it's the world's most popular camera.”

While many of the cameras on this poster earned their place by being innovative and groundbreaking, a few nabbed their spots by simply being unique. The Minox Spy Camera, for example. "The Minox is evocative of Cold War espionage, all James Bond and pulp spy hero," Prince says. "The camera itself could be taped inside your collared shirt, the little protracted lens placed into one of your button holes. Probably really good for snapping secret documents and contraband."

Another interesting camera was the Graph-Check Sequence Machine. “[It] had eight little lenses and shutters, like the eyes of a bug," Prince says. "The shutters went off in sequence, capturing eight moments in time of a moving object. This would of course prefigure rapid-shot sequencing today, which can be done with a single lens instead of eight.”

If you are at all inclined towards loving photography, you should take the time to check out this assortment of cameras—“the cameras that changed the game, made it fun, and made it everyone's to play,” according to Prince.

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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain
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‘American Gothic’ Became Famous Because Many People Saw It as a Joke
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Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

In 1930, Iowan artist Grant Wood painted a simple portrait of a farmer and his wife (really his dentist and sister) standing solemnly in front of an all-American farmhouse. American Gothic has since inspired endless parodies and is regarded as one of the country’s most iconic works of art. But when it first came out, few people would have guessed it would become the classic it is today. Vox explains the painting’s unexpected path to fame in the latest installment of the new video series Overrated.

According to host Phil Edwards, American Gothic made a muted splash when it first hit the art scene. The work was awarded a third-place bronze medal in a contest at the Chicago Art Institute. When Wood sold the painting to the museum later on, he received just $300 for it. But the piece’s momentum didn’t stop there. It turned out that American Gothic’s debut at a time when urban and rural ideals were clashing helped it become the defining image of the era. The painting had something for everyone: Metropolitans like Gertrude Stein saw it as a satire of simple farm life in Middle America. Actual farmers and their families, on the other hand, welcomed it as celebration of their lifestyle and work ethic at a time when the Great Depression made it hard to take pride in anything.

Wood didn’t do much to clear up the work’s true meaning. He stated, "There is satire in it, but only as there is satire in any realistic statement. These are types of people I have known all my life. I tried to characterize them truthfully—to make them more like themselves than they were in actual life."

Rather than suffering from its ambiguity, American Gothic has been immortalized by it. The country has changed a lot in the past century, but the painting’s dual roles as a straight masterpiece and a format for skewering American culture still endure today.

Get the full story from Vox below.

[h/t Vox]

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“Dissension” by Tobias Rothe. Original image courtesy Fondazione Federico Zeri/Università di Bologna // CC-BY 3.0
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Get Your GIFs Ready for This International Public Domain GIF-Making Competition
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“Dissension” by Tobias Rothe. Original image courtesy Fondazione Federico Zeri/Università di Bologna // CC-BY 3.0

Excellent GIF-making skills can serve you beyond material for your clever tweets. Each year, a group of four digital libraries from across the world hosts GIF IT UP, a competition to find the best animated image sourced from public domain images from their archives.

The competition is sponsored by Europeana, the Digital Public Library of America (DPLA), New Zealand’s DigitalNZ, and the National Library of Australia’s Trove, all of which host millions of public domain works. The requirements are that the source material must be in the public domain, have a 'no known copyright restrictions' statement, or have a Creative Commons license that allows its reuse. The material must also come from one of the sponsored sources. Oh, and judging by the past winners, it helps if it’s a little whimsical.

The image above won the grand prize in 2015. And this was a runner-up in 2016:

via GIPHY

This year’s prizes haven’t been announced yet (although Europeana says there will be a new one for first-time GIF makers), but last year’s grand prize winner got their own Giphoscope, and runners-up got $20 gift cards. (Turns out, there’s not a lot of money in public domain art.)

Not an expert GIFer yet? You can always revisit the audio version of DPLA’s advanced GIF-making tutorial from last year.

The fourth-annual GIF IT UP contest opens to submissions October 1.

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