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Evan Amos, "A pile of Gimbal's Jelly Beans"
Evan Amos, "A pile of Gimbal's Jelly Beans"

You've Seen His Photos, But You've Never Heard of Him

Evan Amos, "A pile of Gimbal's Jelly Beans"
Evan Amos, "A pile of Gimbal's Jelly Beans"

Evan Amos is a photographer who gives away his work. He takes photos of food, games, and all kinds of other stuff, then posts the high-quality photos on Wikipedia as "public domain" (meaning, he gives up his copyright), thus allowing anyone, anywhere, to use the photos as they wish. And boy, do those photos get around.

If you look up duct tape, you'll see his photo there. If you stumble across the good old Nintendo Entertainment System, those are his photos too. Hell, he even shot the primary photo for the Bananagrams page. His work is everywhere, and it's great. Now Evan needs your help, so he can dramatically expand his free-photography work. He's running a Kickstarter campaign to photograph vintage video game systems, then give away those photos as well. I donated to help him out -- and I think you should too. He doesn't stand to profit from this campaign, but we as users of the web do.

I've used Evan's work on the mental_floss blog many times, though I never knew who he was until his Kickstarter campaign appeared. His McNuggets photo illustrates the first item on our 30 Things Turning 30 This Year list. His Nintendo photos show up in Did Blowing into Nintendo Cartridges Really Help? And his photo of Sno Balls is featured in Kara Kovalchik's Beyond the Twinkie: 5 Other Hostess Products We're Losing. It's fair to say that if you read the web for long enough, you will encounter his work, though you may not know it -- and that's actually kind of great, because he intentionally gives it away for public domain use.

In a recent article about his work, Evan wrote:

There is a huge need for this. There is no one else trying to provide this service at this level, at this quality, at this reach (Wikipedia) and in a format (public domain) that will ensure that these photos will last for decades from now. The work that I've already created and its impact thus far is a testament to the importance of the project. These are the reasons why I do this work, and why I do it for free.

I can't say it any better than that. The man is doing amazing work, and I'm putting a few bucks towards expanding the catalogue. I hope you'll do the same.

Just in case it isn't clear: I don't have any relationship with Evan, I don't stand to gain from his Kickstarter campaign (except that his new images may be useful in future articles), and he didn't ask me to write this. But when I saw his project, I felt the need to toot his horn for him. He's at a critical point where funding within this coming week will make or break the project. Please take a look and chip in a few bucks.

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By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
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History
Photo of Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, Purchased for $10, Could Be Worth Millions
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons
By Ben Wittick (1845–1903) - Brian Lebel's Old West Show and Auction, Public Domain, Wikimedia Commons

Several years ago, Randy Guijarro paid $2 for a few old photographs he found in an antiques shop in Fresno, California. In 2015, it was determined that one of those photos—said to be the second verified picture ever found of Billy the Kid—could fetch the lucky thrifter as much as $5 million. That story now sounds familiar to Frank Abrams, a lawyer from North Carolina who purchased his own photo of the legendary outlaw at a flea market in 2011. It turns out that the tintype, which he paid $10 for, is thought to be an image of Billy and Pat Garrett (the sheriff who would eventually kill him) taken in 1880. Like Guijarro’s find, experts say Abrams’s photo could be worth millions.

The discovery is as much a surprise to Abrams as anyone. As The New York Times reports, what drew Abrams to the photo was the fact that it was a tintype, a metal photographic image that was popular in the Wild West. Abrams didn’t recognize any of the men in the image, but he liked it and hung it on a wall in his home, which is where it was when an Airbnb guest joked that it might be a photo of Jesse James. He wasn’t too far off.

Using Google as his main research tool, Abrams attempted to find out if there was any famous face in that photo, and quickly realized that it was Pat Garrett. According to The New York Times:

Then, Mr. Abrams began to wonder about the man in the back with the prominent Adam’s apple. He eventually showed the tintype to Robert Stahl, a retired professor at Arizona State University and an expert on Billy the Kid.

Mr. Stahl encouraged Mr. Abrams to show the image to experts.

William Dunniway, a tintype expert, said the photograph was almost certainly taken between 1875 and 1880. “Everything matches: the plate, the clothing, the firearm,” he said in a phone interview. Mr. Dunniway worked with a forensics expert, Kent Gibson, to conclude that Billy the Kid and Mr. Garrett were indeed pictured.

Abrams, who is a criminal defense lawyer, described the process of investigating the history of the photo as akin to “taking on the biggest case you could ever imagine.” And while he’s thrilled that his epic flea market find could produce a major monetary windfall, don’t expect to see the image hitting the auction block any time soon. 

"Other people, they want to speculate from here to kingdom come,” Abrams told The New York Times of how much the photo, which he has not yet had valuated, might be worth. “I don’t know what it’s worth. I love history. It’s a privilege to have something like this.”

[h/t: The New York Times]

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NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA
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Space
Mind-Bending New Images of Jupiter From Juno's Latest Flyby
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA

NASA’s Juno spacecraft left Earth in August 2011, and has been orbiting Jupiter since 2016, completing its eighth close flyby in late October. While flying beneath the dense cloud cover that obscures the solar system’s largest planet, it captured some incredible close-up views of the gas giant, as Newsweek reports.

With the JunoCam community, the public can alert NASA to points of interest and help direct the Juno mission. Citizen scientists have processed the raw, black-and-white images Juno beams back to Earth to highlight particular atmospheric features, collage multiple images, and enhance colors, releasing the edited color images before the space agency has a chance to. A whole new batch just emerged from the latest flyby, and they're well worth a look. Take a peek at a few below, and see more at the JunoCam website.

A swirl appears on Jupiter's surface.
NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Shawn Handran // Public Domain

A partial view of Jupiter
NASA/SwRI/MSSS/Shawn Handran // Public Domain

A close-up view of Jupiter's surface
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA

A view of Jupiter's surface
NASA / SwRI / MSSS / Gerald Eichstädt / Seán Doran // CC NC SA

[h/t Newsweek]

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