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  • Scrambling to find a spot to watch the eclipse? Fear not, below Martin Hogue details three campsites in the path of the total eclipse!

    Posted at 09:00 am on Mon, 21 Aug 2017 in photography
  • If you're looking to get one more camping trip before summer's end, here are some recommendations from Martin Hogue, author of Thirtyfour Campgrounds.

    There are 6,490 individual campsites depicted in the book Thirtyfour Campgrounds, culled from a network of nearly 20,000 facilities across the United States. The rigid arrangement of these sites intro grids of small photographs across 200 pages of the book produces an overwhelming impression of sameness: while specific textures of light, color and tone do emerge from each of these 34 landscapes (the light In Naples, Florida is completely different from that in Zion National Park, for example), the reader may also find that no single campsite is really discernible from its neighbors.  

    This graphic arrangement is by design: the photographic grids evoke a rigid spatial plat of nearly universal design features. Campsites are generally defined by an open, flat patch of ground, a picnic table, and a fire pit; these sites, and the parking spurs that lead to them, are grouped around one-way driving loops, where motorists, hauling gear and supplies, arrive daily to assume their role as campers, replacing other individuals, groups, or families who themselves departed only hours ago. The engineering of this spatial layout dates back to the 1930s and has changed little over time, or indeed from one campground to another.

    The prospective camper/shopper trying reserve a campsite based on the online information provided by popular websites like reserveamerica.com or recreation.gov will no doubt come away with an impression similar to the one I experienced when I downloaded these thousands of photographs during the summer of 2014: is it possible to make truly sensible choices based on this information? These photos and diagrammatic maps seem both too much, and too little to make good decisions. Sometimes it’s a crapshoot, sometimes insider knowledge really helps.

    Most campers will easily recall unique camping experiences. Great camping may involve scoring a great campsite: the space of the encampment itself, the proximity of neighbors, even the larger region surrounding the campground are but some of the factors involved in this kind of decision-making. Other times, great camping may involve less tangible qualities such as the weather on a particular day, or the food prepared on a given evening. To be sure, a great campsite is often a physical place, but its recall may also connect the camper to the story of a lazy afternoon, an evening campfire, a meal shared with other companions, or a prized moment of solitude.

    Posted at 08:00 am on Sat, 12 Aug 2017 in photography
  • The daguerreotype, invented in France, came to America in 1839. It was, as Sarah Kate Gillespie's book The Early American Daguerreotype shows, something wholly and remarkably new: a product of science and innovative technology that resulted in a visual object. We're celebrating World Photo Day with an excerpt from The Early American Daguerreotype.

    Originally a French invention, daguerreotyping—a photographic process that produces extremely detailed images—reached American shores in the fall of 1839. A daguerreotype is a direct-positive image on a silvered copper plate. Historically, the plate was polished until it had a mirror-like surface, then was treated with lightsensitive chemicals. The plate was then fitted into a camera and exposed to the subject. Once exposed, the plate was developed above a box of mercury fumes, and the image was fixed in a bath of hyposulfate of soda. The finished product was then washed and dried. Because the surface remained sensitive, it was placed under a plate of glass and usually put in a case.

    Posted at 09:00 am on Fri, 19 Aug 2016 in art, history, photography, science, technology

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Books, news, and ideas from MIT Press

The MIT PressLog is the official blog of MIT Press. Founded in 2005, the Log chronicles news about MIT Press authors and books. The MIT PressLog also serves as forum for our authors to discuss issues related to their books and scholarship. Views expressed by guest contributors to the blog do not necessarily represent those of MIT Press.