Zuzu Bailey

"If it were the first “Star Wars” movie, “The Phantom Menace” would be hailed as a visionary breakthrough. But this is the fourth movie of the famous series, and we think we know the territory; many of the early reviews have been blase, paying lip service to the visuals and wondering why the characters aren’t better developed. How quickly do we grow accustomed to wonders. I am reminded of the Isaac Asimov story “Nightfall,” about the planet where the stars were visible only once in a thousand years. So awesome was the sight that it drove men mad. We who can see the stars every night glance up casually at the cosmos and then quickly down again, searching for a Dairy Queen."

- Roger Ebert in defense of The Phantom Menace. (via theoradical)

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Shining at Kvarteret in Bergen, Norway. Photo by Thor Møller.
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Shining at Kvarteret in Bergen, Norway. Photo by Thor Møller.

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Rediscovering Backyard Magic with @joshuadwhite

For more photos from Joshua’s A Photographic Survey of the American Backyard, follow @joshuadwhite on Instagram.

“A lot of my work has to do with memory,” explains North Carolina photographer Joshua White (@joshuadwhite). After capturing a photo of a freshly fallen whirligig on a solid-colored trash can, Joshua became intrigued by the way the seedpod’s shape stood out to him. Without the distractions of its busy natural context, it became both a specimen to examine and a work of art to contemplate. “I remembered what it was like to be a kid in the yard, looking at insects and plants,” Joshua says. “It felt like I was discovering nature again.”

Two years later, more than 500 photos now make up the project Joshua has titled A Photographic Survey of the American Backyard. He makes all of his photographs in a structured, repeatable process. As he details, “I photograph mostly on my back porch in the shade. I use sheets of white foam core from the art supply store, and I place the specimens on the end of a sewing or knitting needle to hold them out away from the background so that I can get as close to a shadowless background as possible.” From there, he positions the subjects to be just right, snaps the photograph, converts the photo to black and white and, finally, adds the Earlybird filter.

Joshua’s creative inspiration comes from his own lifelong curiosity. “I look for interesting forms and the unexpected. I will revisit the same subject several times to see how it changes, dissect seeds and flower buds to examine the structures inside and photograph different specimens of the same species over and over to look at the variation—but really it just comes down to interesting shapes, patterns and forms.” As for what comes next in the series, he has a very clear goal: “A box turtle is right at the top of the list. I get the most excited about things that I have specific childhood memories of, and finding a turtle as a kid was the holy grail.”

Like those pressed flowers my grandmother used to make, but updated for the iPhone era! Autumn is the best time of year to appreciate plant structures such as these, too. As they say, beauty is in the details. ~LM

(via thirteenny)