Exposure

This is—or should that be “These are”?—how the future of photography might look. The history of the medium, in common with most technologies, is largely about ever-increasing speed. In the nineteenth century, exposure times were so long that moving people and objects became either blurred or completely invisible. But it wasn’t only shutter speeds that got faster. The intervals between pictures were also reduced, from the cumbersome preparation of individual collodion wet-plate negatives to rolls of film containing 36 frames.

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In a boxing match, the combatants are rarely more than a couple of feet apart. Even the punch that separates them absolutely—the moment marking the difference between victory and defeat—unites them in brutal intimacy. That’s one of the reasons why boxing is relatively easy to photograph.

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One’s first thought on seeing this—“Hmm, cool picture!”—turns almost immediately into a second: “Wish I could go to that place and see it for myself.” What the image suggests most powerfully is that (if I may be permitted simultaneously to invent and translate one of those useful German compound words) the-experience-of-being-there-would-be-better-than-looking-at-this-picture-of-there. The photograph, in plain old English, is only a high-quality substitute for being surrounded by these bits of the Berlin Wall as they await sale on the twenty-fourth anniversary of its fall.

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Windows on a Parade

This incredible photo of a South Korean office building actually tells a story

In each issue of The New Republic, Geoff Dyer meditates on a news photograph and its meaning. 

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Flags of the Resistance

What I see in this incredible photo from Syria

In a broken Syrian city, symbols of life’s resilience—and America’s predicament

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The Hot Zone by Richard Preston (Random House, 300 pp., $23) The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance by Laurie Garrett (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 750 pp., $25) In the spring of 1983, a flock of wild ducks carrying a strain of avian influenza virus settled on a pond in a chicken farm in eastern Pennsylvania. The virus was excreted in the ducks' feces, which meant that it got onto the ground and then onto the boots of a farmer, which is why in turn it soon found its way into the chicken barn.

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