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About David Pierini

David Pierini David Pierini is an award-winning Chicago-based photojournalist who writes about photography, especially interesting work being done with mobile devices. Considered a luddite by most of his friends, they did not believe him when he broke the news that he would be contributing to a technology website. He is always on the lookout for a good Instagram feed. He can be reached at davidpierini@gmail.com. Read more posts by David Pierini

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Meet the pigeon photographer

Woody Allen famously called pigeons flying rats. Photographer David Stephenson calls them thoroughbreds of the sky.

He also realizes the common perception of the pigeon skews more toward Allen’s view. But Stephenson has a growing body of work that could make people reconsider the much-maligned bird.

Stephenson, aka The Pigeon Photographer, runs a website and Instagram feed where his photos attempt to show the intelligence, strength and iridescent beauty of homing pigeons, which he raises in his backyard near Lexington, Kentucky.

“When we see them circling in the air, they move so fast our eye can’t comprehend the beautiful details, the way the feathers curve, the upstroke or downstroke of the wings,” Stephenson told Cult of Mac. “I just want people to appreciate them more. They are beautiful, insanely tough and intelligent.”

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For truly stunning portraits, photog zaps his subjects with a Taser

It happens all the time: The subject of a portrait tries to put their best face forward but the photographer senses a more authentic expression locked inside. To get to something real, the photographer utilizes a range of tricks and charms to peel back the subject’s veneer.

South Carolina photographer Patrick Hall used 300,000 volts.

Shockingly, close to a hundred people got zapped with a stun gun for Hall’s series of still photos and a slow-motion video that went viral soon after it was published on the Fstoppers website, which Hall co-founded.

“I wanted to start making more photo series of things I don’t normally do,” Hall told Cult of Mac. “Why don’t I get reactions of people doing something painful or joyful that is more than the standard portrait? What could I do to consistently get reactions?”

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Vintage-style lens makes impression with its dreamy bokeh

Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Lomography’s Petzval lens clone will give your pictures a certain special something. Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

A photo editor friend of mine will often say, “It’s getting harder and harder to make a bad picture.”

It sounds absurd but he is partially referring to technology and how it can remove some of the thinking from photography. Cameras can be set to figure out aperture, shutter speed and, with the touch of a button, do the focusing. You can massage a bad exposure with software or, if you snap photos with your phone, choose apps and filters to effect a variety of looks and feels.

So it’s not uncommon for serious photographers to occasionally reach back for a piece of analog gear to challenge their thinking and reinvigorate creativity.

This summer I reached back to 1840. Well, sort of.

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Vietnam War photos leave haunting impressions on artist’s unlikely canvas

The coiled hose left a mark on the grass, a fading of color where the sun could not shine.

From this moment on his front lawn, Binh Danh realized he could create a photographic process using sunlight, leaves and grass. He had no idea his method would develop into an organic process of self-discovery.

On leaves from his family’s garden, Danh brings fresh examination to an old war, printing haunted faces and horrific scenes from the Vietnam conflict with light and chlorophyll.

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Fascinating photo blog dives into The New York Times’ morgue

Inside a New York City morgue, the rich, famous and celebrated rest in the same space with the soldier, the wheat farmer and nuns trained in the martial arts. There’s even a car show model who was mauled by a lion.

Darcy Eveleigh pulls drawers at random and gives these people another day. They’re not dead, just filed.

Eveleigh is a New York Times picture editor who curates the popular Tumblr blog, The Lively Morgue, a collection of historic and often quirky images found in the Times’ photo archive.

Eveleigh will not live to see every photo. The files are believed to hold between 10 and 20 million images. The site reports that if Times picture editors posted 10 new archived photos on the blog each day, they might have every picture online by the year 3935.

“They are all accidental small treasures I did not mean to come across,” Eveleigh said of the serendipity she relies on during her regular visits to the morgue, located three stories below ground level.

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This museum will have you seeing dead people

A & A Studios, Chicago

Chicago’s A & A Studios is home to the Museum of Mourning Photography and Memorial Practice, which houses a most unusual photo collection. Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

My little red-haired niece approached the casket with a single flower and placed it with the father she looks so much like.

I raised my camera to my eye and made a picture.

Though secure with my reasons for snapping the photo, I understood how taboo this could seem to others. I never made a print to pass around or display. I look at the photo now, 10 years later, and get reacquainted with grief, struck by a visceral appreciation for a chapter that continues to unfold in my family story.

That picture was a fading memory until my recent trip to the Museum of Mourning Photography and Memorial Practice in Chicago, a collection of more than 2,000 postmortem photographs and funerary ephemera.

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Vintage photo booths morph into movie machines

Meags Fitzgerald

Montreal artist Meags Fitzgerald turns intimate photo-booth pictures into short films.

Before anyone ever uttered the word “selfie,” Meags Fitzgerald had accumulated thousands of photos of herself taken in photo booths in the malls and train stations near her home.

She produced strips of four one-of-a-kind poses almost daily, sometimes hiding in a mall photo booth until after close. High-school friends dubbed her “the Photo Booth Girl.” Today, when the Montreal artist pulls the curtain in a booth, the flashes sometimes don’t stop until she has enough photos to produce a movie.

“It’s very much an obscure labor of love,” said Fitzgerald, a freelance illustrator who has produced six film shorts, all in photo booths. “There are certainly people who have used photo booths in their mediums but I’m the only one I know who has used them in this way, in this length or with the narrative purpose I’ve tried.”

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These 3 handy apps put a photo scanner in your pocket

Scanning apps will let you turn a pile of photos into a useful digital archive. Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

Scanning apps will let you turn a pile of photos into a useful digital archive. Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

The 1940s hockey photos we found among my aunt’s possessions are a mystery she took to her grave. But with a little internet research and some sharing through social media, I figured I could put names to the players’ faces and stories that would bring the photos to life.

I needed a photo scanner. My smartphone and the right app puts one in my pocket.

For the hockey project, I tested three photo-scanning apps, each of which allowed me to digitize and share old photos without the need for computer equipment, Photoshop or the expense of a scanning service.

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Surreal photos capture Stormtrooper’s life on Earth

Eric is a Stormtrooper who escaped the exploding Death Star and wound up on Earth.

Now he wears jeans, enjoys lavender-scented bubble baths, drinks Johnnie Walker whisky and sings a song about his tomato allergy.

No longer a member of the Galactic Empire guard, Eric serves as muse to British photographer Darryll Jones, a self-described 39-year-old child who has turned his fondness for toys — especially Star Wars action figures — into a Force on Instagram.

“I have always loved toys,” said Jones, a food and lifestyle photographer who does work for the Tesco supermarket chain when he’s not taking pictures of toys. “I recall quite vividly setting up little dioramas in my room or in the garden and playing out the scenes in my mind, imagining that the little plastic figures could come alive.”

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Instagram brings you world’s shortest cooking show

Bart van Olphen thinks he can conquer your fear of cooking fish if you’ll just give him 15 seconds.

The seafood chef from Amsterdam uses Instagram’s relatively new video feature for Fish Tales, which is probably the world’s fastest cooking show in this golden age of refined eating.

“People really like the simplicity of the recipes,” van Olphen told Cult of Mac. “You really can learn how to cook in only 15 seconds.”

Cooking shows have been simmering since the early days of television, with pioneers like James Beard and Julia Child unraveling the mysteries of the kitchen. With the emergence of the Food Network in 1993, the format boiled over into a ratings bonanza, turning chefs like Emeril Lagasse and Rachel Ray into celebrities. Now YouTube is home to dozens of shows featuring entrepreneurial cooks seeking to cash in on the foodie craze.

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