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

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

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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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Courtesy of Nikon
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science
Microscopic Videos Provide a Rare Close-Up Glimpse of the Natural World
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Courtesy of Nikon

Nature’s wonders aren’t always visible to the naked eye. To celebrate the miniature realm, Nikon’s Small World in Motion digital video competition awards prizes to the most stunning microscopic moving images, as filmed and submitted by photographers and scientists. The winners of the seventh annual competition were just announced on September 21—and you can check out the top submissions below.

FIRST PRIZE

Daniel von Wangenheim, a biologist at the Institute of Science and Technology Austria, took first place with a time-lapse video of thale cress root growth. For the uninitiated, thale cress—known to scientists as Arabidopsis thalianais a small flowering plant, considered by many to be a weed. Plant and genetics researchers like thale cress because of its fast growth cycle, abundant seed production, ability to pollinate itself, and wild genes, which haven’t been subjected to breeding and artificial selection.

Von Wangenheim’s footage condenses 17 hours of root tip growth into just 10 seconds. Magnified with a confocal microscope, the root appears neon green and pink—but von Wangenheim’s work shouldn’t be appreciated only for its aesthetics, he explains in a Nikon news release.

"Once we have a better understanding of the behavior of plant roots and its underlying mechanisms, we can help them grow deeper into the soil to reach water, or defy gravity in upper areas of the soil to adjust their root branching angle to areas with richer nutrients," said von Wangenheim, who studies how plants perceive and respond to gravity. "One step further, this could finally help to successfully grow plants under microgravity conditions in outer space—to provide food for astronauts in long-lasting missions."

SECOND PRIZE

Second place went to Tsutomu Tomita and Shun Miyazaki, both seasoned micro-photographers. They used a stereomicroscope to create a time-lapse video of a sweating fingertip, resulting in footage that’s both mesmerizing and gross.

To prompt the scene, "Tomita created tension amongst the subjects by showing them a video of daredevils climbing to the top of a skyscraper," according to Nikon. "Sweating is a common part of daily life, but being able to see it at a microscopic level is equal parts enlightening and cringe-worthy."

THIRD PRIZE

Third prize was awarded to Satoshi Nishimura, a professor from Japan’s Jichi Medical University who’s also a photography hobbyist. He filmed leukocyte accumulations and platelet aggregations in injured mouse cells. The rainbow-hued video "provides a rare look at how the body reacts to a puncture wound and begins the healing process by creating a blood clot," Nikon said.

To view the complete list of winners, visit Nikon’s website.

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Department of the Interior. Office of Indian Affairs. Fort Totten Agency. 1903-1947, National Archives and Records Administration
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History
Help the National Archives Tag Photos of Life on Native American Reservations
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Department of the Interior. Office of Indian Affairs. Fort Totten Agency. 1903-1947, National Archives and Records Administration

The National Archives needs your help. The federal agency is looking for volunteer archivists to make its collections of photography from life on Native American reservations more accessible via online searches.

Volunteers will tag these historic photos of reservation life, taken in the early- and mid-20th century by photographers from federal agencies like the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Citizen archivists can generate searchable tags by identifying the people, places, and activities shown in the images. It helps if you have a bit of insider knowledge and can recognize individuals or the locations where the images were shot, but non-experts can lend a hand by labeling what's happening in the photos.

Corn dries in front of a log cabin.
Department of the Interior. Office of Indian Affairs. Fort Totten Agency. 1903-1947, National Archives and Records Administration

The collections span everything from images of 4-H participants from 1933 to photos of locations you can no longer see, such as parts of the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation in North Dakota that were flooded by the construction of a dam in the late 1940s, causing the tribes who lived there to lose 94 percent of their agricultural land. Tagging these photos makes these vital documentations of reservation life more accessible to the public and to scholars.

Previously, the National Archives has solicited regular folks for other digitization projects, including transcribing declassified documents that included records from UFO sightings and tagging a congressional cookbook.

To participate, start with the National Archives' email newsletter, which contains some ideas for which collections to start on. You can register as a "citizen archivist" on archives.gov.

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