Fantasy clashes with reality in wonky wonderlands


Zombies sit at the bar of Johnny Rockets after the Atlanta Horror Fest presented it's fourth annual Zombie Walk which started off at Lenny's Bar, headed through historic Oakland Cemetery, crossed over into downtown Atlanta and ended at the Underground Atlanta mall. 

One of the mermaid actresses sits near the exit to greet the audience after performing Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Little Mermaid' in the underwater theatre in Weeki Wachee State Park in Spring Hill, Florida.

Kendrick Brinson stands in front of the 'Walk Through Time in Georgia' exhibit at Fernbank Natural History Museum in Atlanta, Georgia.

Guests at the Atlantis Resort on Paradise Island in the Bahamas ride on a waterslide through the middle of a shark-filled aquarium on the resort's property.  Themed for it's namesake, Atlantis offers a complex with a water-park, aquarium, casino, spa, six hotels, a fitness center, golf, shopping, a speedway, a night club, and a plethora of dining options, all linked with an array of fake lagoons, Atlantis encourages guests to stay on property.  In fact, they make it kind of difficult to leave.  At Atlantis, you are literally offered complete immersion into this surreal play-land for your entire vacation.

Costumed employees take a turn in the photo booth during a 30th birthday celebration at a roller rink in Atlanta, Georgia. 

One of the mermaid actresses holds a finger to her mouth to hush the crowd while performing Hans Christian Andersen's 'The Little Mermaid' in the underwater theatre in Weeki Wachee State Park in Spring Hill, Florida.

A lion handler sits with his pride inside the lion enclosure at the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas, Nevada. 


A couple takes in a miniature model of the city of Jerusalem in Biblical times at the Christian theme park, Holy Land Experience, in Orlando, Florida.  The religious tourist attraction serves as a mix between a place for worship, historic study, and a large scale three-dimensional stage for the daily live performances.

An actor playing Jesus stands with his arms outstretched greeting visitors at the Christian theme park, Holy Land Experience, in Orlando, Florida.  The religious tourist attraction serves as a mix between a place for worship, historic study, and a large scale three-dimensional stage for the daily live performances.

A faux Airstream trailer houses a miniature bowling alley inside the Silverton Casino Lodge in Las Vegas, Nevada.  Themed with the outdoors in mind, the casino caters to the bass-fishing types and even houses a grand scale Bass Pro Shops prominently next to the front entrance.

Tourists explore The National Wax Museum in Dublin, Ireland where visitors are invited on a tour through Irish History followed by an odd mix of popular culture ranging from fairy tales and music to horror films, all depicted by magnificently crafted wax sculptures.

Tourists pose with a fake Greek statue outside Ceasar's Palace Casino on the strip in Las Vegas, Nevada.  The stretch of road offers one casino after another, each with themes of their own, ranging from New York City to ancient Greece.  With a nickname of 'Sin City', and a common belief that, 'what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas,' the city has become an adult sexual fantasy land as well as playing host to countless fake realities. 

An employee at the World of Coca-Cola hugs a life-size version of one of the company's marketing campaign icons at the company's permanent historical exhibition in downtown Atlanta, GA.

Venezuelans celebrate Semana Santa (Holy Week) in Caracas and in the Petare barrio in Caracas, Venezuela.  Semana Santa is the last week of Lent, and the week before Easter.  It includes the religious holidays of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday.  Petare, which is considered the largest barrio in Latin America, hosts an elaborate staging of the Via Crucis (Stations of the Cross), which draws a massive crowd as local actors depict Jesus carrying his cross to his own crucifixion and his final hours, or 'Passion', before his death and subsequent resurrection. 


The huge white pillars of the Southern-style plantation home welcome you as you approach the very birthplace and origin of all things Cabbage Patch at Babyland General Hospital.  A nurse with baby in arms greets visitors with a smile and a bit of a wild eye as you sign in and head towards the nursery.  At the end of the hallway of pastel pink and blue nursery rooms filled with infant dolls, double doors open into the main event.  Some might call it a glorified gift shop, but the live birth demonstrations around the enchanted tree make it something much more.  Colored glowing lights change hues casting strange ambiance onto fairies flying around the tree, and the small faces reaching out of the cabbages which lay at its base.  While the place serves as an elaborate ploy to sell merchandise, it still takes the time to sell an entire lore surrounding the creation of the small Cabbage Patch Kids to the large imaginations of the tiny visitors soaking it all in.  

Real life gets old real quick. Work, chores, traffic jams, monotony — all the details of the daily grind infect the human body and build into a fever that only breaks when bags get packed.

The search for diversion leads to amusement parks and roadside wonders, roller coasters and stage extravaganzas. Kids can be kids, adults can be kids again, and sometimes, David Walter Banks is on hand to capture fantasy becoming reality with behind-the-scenes images that cast new light on tourist attractions.

Such moments of cognitive dissonance comprise The Fourth Wall. The entertainment industry takes in billions annually but even the most luxurious resorts and casinos provide an imperfect illusion. Visitors fill the gaps between animatronics and costumes with their own imagination, and the disconnect beats at the heart of Banks’ photo project.

“I love the idea of these places,” he says. “As adults, so many of us have lost our wonder and given up our urge to chase dreams. In a way, these places invite the adult population to chase an outlandish dream once more, even if only for a fleeting moment. Even if it’s plastic and cracked and they know it is all fake. They are still getting up, putting on their tennis shoes, and going out in search of magic.”

Sci-fi toys spring to life in filmic photos


Sci-fi toys come to life in Robert Larner's photos

Alien Tourist

A scene you won't see in Star Wars

AT-AT in the Snow

Black Riders

Borg scout ship


Close Encounter

Face to face


Giant Robots

Haunted House

King of the Monsters

Long Snoot

Looks like The Doctor took the wrong turn to Metebelis Three...

Moonlit Interceptor

Multi-coloured Daleks


Party Wagon

Planet of the Apes Picnic

Who said Greedo doesn't fire first?

"Oh oh!"

"What'll it be? We've got squishees, overpriced coffee, blue milk..."

"What's that noise?"

By day, Robert Larner works for an investment firm. By night he directs Stormtroopers, Transformers and Daleks.

Using toys, camera tricks and a keen sense of story, the photographer delights Flickr and Instagram fans with movie stills. But the movies don’t exist.

The Scotsman grew up a discerning cineaste with a taste for the Indiana Jones, Back to the Future and Ghostbusters movie franchises, but his greatest inspiration — in film and toys — was Star Wars.

“I could probably track my interest in toys via Star Wars,” Larner says. “When I was a kid in the early ’80s, I was completely swept up by the original Kenner 3.75-inch range. Then, in the ’90s, the remastered movies came out along with whispers of the prequels so the Star Wars toy range was reintroduced, so that caught my interest again. However, it was when Lego had the bright idea of making Star Wars Lego sets in 1999 that I really got sucked in and I haven’t looked back since!”

How a dev who couldn’t code built one of world’s hottest photo apps


Merek Davis, gets mexturized. Photo: Merek Davis
Merek Davis gets mexturized. Photo: Merek Davis

Merek Davis is not a coder. The developer never even made an app before 2013. Yet on his first iOS at-bat, he hit an App Store grand slam with Mextures, his photo-editing app that quickly became one of the top photo apps of the year.

Mextures is like Photoshop for your iPhone, only easier to use. The app’s editing tools and formulas let you tweak and re-tweak pics, adding light leaks, textures and color gradients that can turn even your crappiest pics into something majestic.

It’s a bona fide hit, with some of the most-followed names on Instagram using Davis’ creation. But it almost never happened.

Fascinating photo blog dives into The New York Times’ morgue


Sister Marie Chantal, left, kicks at an instructor during a Tae Kwon Do class in January 1994. Jack Manning/The New York Times

John Hills conducts an exercise class for people over 65 in January 1969. The published captions read: "Who says physical fitness is only for youngsters. Counting, with exaggerated enunciation, against pressure of fingers helps excercise the face and rest the body halfway through the hour-long session." Patrick A. Burns/The New York Times

Sgt. Richard Richards of the 86th Precinct demonstrates his shooting stance for a photographer during a police revolver competition in March of 1958. Ernie Sisto/The New York Times

Heavily armed Indochinese Communist soldiers, including women and young boys, occupy the city of Phnom Penh on May 4, 1975, marking the end of five years of war in Cambodia. At first the mood of the city was jubilant with the rebels being welcomed. Dith Pran/The New York Times

President Dwight D. Eisenhower at his Gettysburg farm walking around the grounds chatting with reporters and photographers in January 1955. George Tames/The New York Times

Umpire Durwood Merrill ejects Seattle Mariners manager Chuck Cottier during a 1985 game at Yankee Stadium. After arguing nose-to-nose with Merrill for several minutes, Cottier yanked first base out of the ground and heaved it into right field. Vic DeLucia/The New York Times

Giacomo Lauri-Volpi poses as Pollione from "Norma" in which he sang at the Metropolitan Opera in November 1927. The New York Times.


A contact sheet of a skark swimming at an aquarium, May 1960. Sam Falk/The New York Times

A New York fire inspires a fantastic coiled pattern of hoses. Sam Falk/The New York Times

A man-made anchor holds down a plane at La Guardia Field in February, 1940. The New York Times.

An eight-story inflatable King Kong deflated on top of the Empire State Building after it developed a hole in its shoulder. The balloon ape was tethered to the skyscraper in April 1983 to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the King Kong movie. Sara Krulwich/The New York Times

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.

How to create special photo effects with a light stencil

Find out how a light stencil can put Bambi -- or anything else you can dream up -- in your photos.
Find out how a light stencil can put Bambi -- or anything else you can dream up -- in your pictures. Photo: Janelle Pietrzak

Photography is all about light, and photographers are all about light painting. There are many tricks to try, from isolating objects with incandescence outside the frame to shining light directly at the camera as in Janelle Pietrzak’s Bambi series, created using light stencils.

Creating this interesting analog photo effect doesn’t require any special equipment, just a detachable flash, some craft materials and a lot of imagination.