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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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Fascinating photo blog dives into The New York Times’ morgue

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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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Every vintage picture tells a story, don’t it?

Rachel LaCour Niesen’s passion for vintage photos started when she walked down her grandmother’s wood-paneled hallway to look at a bedroom wall that held a carefully edited family history.

There she saw a photo of her father standing proud in his cap and gown on graduation day, an aunt sitting poolside during a swim meet and a happy couple cutting their wedding cake. The imprint those pictures left on LaCour Niesen lies at the heart of her @savefamilyphotos project on Instagram, where she curates a collective history. She invites people from around the world to send her a digital copy of a cherished family photo and brief story that, in many cases, gives the photo its emotional muscle.

“The treasure is not just the photo but the story that comes with it,” LaCour Niesen told Cult of Mac. “I believe stories are the currency of our past, present and future. Without them, we are bankrupt. Our family photos trigger those stories. They are like glue that holds my story — and our stories — together over time.”

Throwback Thursday, Facebook and Instagram have made personal blasts from the past a weekly — if not an hourly — ritual. The web is awash in fuzzy Polaroids, vintage Kodachromes and black-and-white snaps, uploaded by individuals with hard drives full of memories and shared by everyone.

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Epic husky photos will cure your cuteness overload

I have a personal Instagram filter that protects my eyes from all the cute pet pictures. But now and then, a dog or cat slips through. One pretty pooch in particular — an Alaskan husky with arresting, ice-blue eyes — has me looking forward to her daily adventures in rural New Hampshire.

Stare into the eyes of Bella, and you’ll get a glimpse into the heart of her owner, photojournalist Cheryl Senter.

“There is total love in every image that I take of her,” Senter told Cult of Mac.

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Hipstamatic gives news shooter fresh eye for Chicago streets

When photojournalist Scott Strazzante planned a weekend trip to Washington, D.C., with his daughter Betsy in 2011, he was intent on leaving his cameras at home.

They were visiting colleges and he wanted it to be a “daddy-daughter” weekend. But the prolific, award-winning photographer gets anxious when he is not creating, so there was a point in the trip when he commandeered her iPhone, downloaded Hipstamatic and started making pictures.

As soon as he returned home, he purchased his own iPhone and it wasn’t long before the news photographer began making pictures for the first time that were truly about him.

His Instagram feed, a body of street photography images that grows larger by the day, has more than 19,000 followers. He loves how Instagram allows him to send pictures directly to people waiting and wanting to see them.

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Tiny camera will make you think twice about spy shots

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The Autographer puts photography on autopilot. Photo: David Pierini/Cult of Mac

CHICAGO — I thought I was boarding the train with a camera that gave me a cloak of invisibility.

But even before the train began moving away from the station, the eyes of a man with a handlebar mustache drew a bead on my Autographer, a tiny, continuous-shooting photographic device clipped to my breast pocket.

He furled his brow. He did not blink. What was he thinking? Could he see the lens? Was he wondering if that thing was on? Maybe some insecurity set in, but the vibe felt like he was suspicious.

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