Ever heard of Les Horribles Cernettes? You might not have, but they truly deserve a footnote in history. Or rather, this photograph of them does.
But before I tell you why, take a look at this picture:
What is it? The navel of the eponymous orange, taken with a '90s-era Xapshot? From mere appearances, you could be forgiven for thinking this is nothing special. Oh, but you would be wrong, nucleus-breath. This picture took five years to make.
It is the absolute smallest thing ever photographed. Professor Dave Kielpinski and a research team from Griffith University in Brisbane, Australia, wanted to investigate how few atoms are required to cast a shadow—and they proved it.
So how many?
That's right: this is a photograph of the shadow of a single atom. Just in case you needed something to blow your mind for today. Thanks to Steven Ralser for passing this along.
Speaking of significant photographs, ever seen this before? Before yesterday, I honestly hadn't. I didn't recognize it. I had to ask Jeffrey Goggin, who sent it to me, what made it so special. (Some of you are chuckling.)
It was taken by American photographer Charles O'Rear, in Sonoma County, California. In most places it's titled "Bliss," but for Dutch Windows OS (or, as I type it, "Window SOS") users, it was called "Ireland," which is a fib.
The Next Web has some tasty details about it, including a surprising shot of the same scene ten years later and some clues about just how much Charles was paid for it.
Oh, and by the way, it was taken on film, and wasn't digitally manipulated.
So what about Les Horribles Cernettes? That happens to be—cue drum roll, please—the very first photograph ever published on the World Wide Web, twenty years and a few days ago.
Somehow, that seems perfect.
Abraham Riesman's great little article about it on Motherboard is a quick read, but also a "must-read" if you ask me. This history of photography, circa now. (Many readers passed along some version of this story—thanks to all of you.)
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Rob: "I attended a class taught by Mr. O'Rear at Santa Fe Workshops a year or so after he sold the image. The class was lead to believe that he, or the stock company, was paid over six figures for the image and that delivery services would not ship the image due to its cost and that he had to deliver the original image to Microsoft headquarters himself. He did tell us that the images was as he shot it. He talked about how he went to great lengths to find these kind of unique images and that most he had found could not be replicated. This does not rule out Microsoft doing something to the image once they had it."
Featured Comment by Dave Van de Mark: "Yes, I had to laugh regarding the Windows 'Bliss' photo. As a custom PC builder and repair guy, I can't imagine how often I've see that image (even today). I had guessed it was part of the Palouse in eastern Washington instead of being close to where I live!"