Kevin Briggs Photography

Kevin Briggs

It has long been my desire to photograph what is portrayed here in this stunning video. Alaska has no such magnificent starling productions, so naturally travel will be required. Nevertheless, such a marvelous photographic excursion will happen.

Beauty and the Brain: The Emerging Field of Neuroaesthetics

Kevin Briggs
Hayoung Hwang

Hayoung Hwang

As this fascinating article illustrates, "neuroaesthetics" represents a ground-breaking area of neuroscience research. This research may help us comprehend the innate methodologies by which our brains interact with and respond to art.

I believe we are hardwired to appreciate and respond to beauty. I have always maintained this viewpoint. With every passing year, my confirmation of this perspective grows stronger.

A Note RE: The National Gallery of Art

Kevin Briggs
Earl A. Powell III, Director of National Gallery of Art, speaks at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., June 21, 2016. PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

Earl A. Powell III, Director of National Gallery of Art, speaks at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., June 21, 2016. PHOTO: MANDEL NGAN/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

The National Gallery of Art is set to lose a legend of a director in the relatively near future, one who has set the tone for the rest of the industrialized world (no kidding) with respect to the current state of the world of art.

As the Wall Street Journal Editorial Board noted recently,

Under [Earl] Powell the National Gallery has taken a refreshingly adult approach to the vexed question of contemporary art, hewing to the traditional approach that works must pass the test of time before entering a museum, rather than chasing fads and fashions. Last year it acquired a soap-and-chocolate sculpture by Janine Antoni, nearly a quarter century after it had caused a sensation at the 1993 Whitney Biennial. Above all under Mr. Powell, the Gallery has remained a determinedly art-for-art’s-sake institution at a time when museums have been increasingly positioning themselves as political actors.

As the politicization of art (not to mention everything else) has inflamed the art world, The National Gallery of Art has done an outstanding job of seeking to withstand the unfortunate and oftentimes raging current.

Let us hope the new director is as stable and as farsighted. 

A Photographic Sign of the Times

Kevin Briggs
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Although this post may seem to be somewhat shallow, it nevertheless represents the times in which we live. 

As has been covered repeatedly and on a vast number of reputable media outlets, Khloe Kardashian brought her own makeup and lighting crew to California’s DMV in order to make her newly issued driver’s license photo anything but ordinary.

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According to a few reports I have scanned, not even Hollywood movie stars have gone to such lengths to make absolutely certain that even their government-issued photographic representation is as non-generic as possible.

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A sign of the times indeed.

A Quick Note on the Development of Digital Photography

Kevin Briggs

Even though I began my photographic education with film cameras, I’ve been shooting medium-format digital throughout my entire professional career. Film photography will probably always be around, as there are those photographers who still prefer this realm of the photographic medium.

Yet what is captured in a wonderful (but brief) history of the development of digital photography (pun intended) illustrates how a giant in the film photography world utterly misjudged the future of the medium it had dominated for a very long time.

As Michael Zhang of PetaPixel writes,

In 1975, a 24-year-old engineer named Steven Sasson invented digital photography while working at Eastman Kodak by creating the world’s first digital camera. Kodak wasn’t exactly enthusiastic about the industry-changing breakthrough.

In short, Kodak did not believe that digital photography would ever fully develop (once again, pardon the pun). As Sasson recals, 

"They were convinced that no one would ever want to look at their pictures on a television set. Print had been with us for over 100 years, no one was complaining about prints, they were very inexpensive, so…"

So according to Kodak, no big deal.

Eastman Kodak filed for bankruptcy in 2012.


Kevin Briggs

According to Webster’s Dictionary, the following represent the principal definitions for the word epiphany:

1: January 6 observed as a church festival in commemoration of the coming of the Magi as the first manifestation of Christ to the Gentiles or in the Eastern Church in commemoration of the baptism of Christ

2: an appearance or manifestation, especially of a divine being

3 a (1): a usually sudden manifestation or perception of the essential nature or meaning of something 

(2) : an intuitive grasp of reality through something (such as an event) usually simple and striking 

(3) : an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure

3 b: a revealing scene or moment.

With regard to Webster’s predecessor, the Oxford English Dictionary, there are only two definitions: everything associated with #3 is omitted, something I find to be most interesting based upon how the word epiphany is utilized in much of literature throughout the 20th and into the 21st century.

With respect to the three principal definitions noted supra, which definition applies to this work?

Let me just say that it does not correspond with #1.

Kevin Briggs

One of the best videos of the solar eclipse on Monday (Aug. 21). Be sure to view in full screen mode.

...Although you may want the sound off, as this enthusiastic (and rightly so) videographer exclaims, "Oh my God, look at that!" perhaps 2-3 dozen times in just a few minutes. =)

Early Solar and Lunar Eclipse Photography

Kevin Briggs

On August 21, parts of North America will witness the first total solar eclipse in nearly a century. The total solar eclipse of June 8, 1918 crossed the United States from Washington State to Florida and will be similar to that which portions of the U.S. will experience on August 21.

Fairly recent photographic discoveries have brought attention to the history of solar and lunar eclipse photography. According to Johnny Simon of Quartz Magazine online:

The earliest image of a solar eclipse is believed to have been taken by a Prussian daguerreotypist Johann Berkowski, who captured a solar eclipse over Königsberg in 1851.

The earliest known image of a solar eclipse. (Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

The earliest known image of a solar eclipse. (Public Domain/Wikimedia Commons)

Mr. Simon also highlights other marvelous photographic finds such as the following solar and lunar eclipse images.

A time-lapse composite of a solar eclipse on January 24, 1925. (adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images.)

A time-lapse composite of a solar eclipse on January 24, 1925. (adoc-photos/Corbis via Getty Images.)

Recently discovered glass plates, forgotten in the basement of the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen offer some extremely early and startling crisp images of the moon during a lunar eclipse:

A lunar eclipse seen from Denmark in 1896. Ola J. Joensen; Niles Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.  

A lunar eclipse seen from Denmark in 1896. Ola J. Joensen; Niles Bohr Institute at the University of Copenhagen.

Check out the article and other images here.


Kevin Briggs

We are such stuff as dreams are made on, and our little life is rounded with a sleep. — William Shakespeare, The Tempest

An artist must dream in order to create. Whether the artist is conscious or unconscious, art is impossible without expressive and intense envisaging. Sometimes the creative effort will require a most intense and penetrating exploration of the realm of the conscious; at other times, the subconscious pulls one into its seemingly fathomless depths.

This post represents nothing more nor less than a very brief colloquy on the subject of the dream state — whether we are speaking of the full or semi variety — as well as the relationship between art and the subconscious.

The philosophical and religious analysis of the stuff of dreams is that which has filled an untold number of volumes. In my humble opinion, dreams — whenever they may occur, whether during the day or at night, or to whatever extent the individual is awake and “present” or somnolent and “removed” — remain one of the most fascinating aspects of human existence.

And yet a daydream isn't actually a dream, is it?

...Or is it?

Before I note a few short words regarding this subject, it is necessary to first speak of dreams themselves.

Among the countless sites online or in print where one may explore the scientific and metaphysical nature of dreams, two locations stood out for me:

First, Robert Stickgold is an associate professor of psychiatry at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center and Harvard Medical School as well as director of the Center for Sleep and Cognition. On Nova’s site, Dr. Stickgold answers a broad range of questions regarding the subject of dreams as a natural constituent of sleep.

Additionally, it is New York Magazine’s Drake Baer who offers one of the tidiest summaries. In his somewhat brief overview, he notes that dreams may represent a blend of communications from the unconscious mind, the resurrection of disparate memories in action, along with the sorting and cataloging of various data our minds acquire during each conscious session of each 24 hour cycle.

From Sigmond Freud to Carl Jung to Calvin Hall to Ann Faraday to Wallace Clift, dream interpretation has come into favor and then, with the application of more scientific principles, found disfavor as of late. Yet the attraction of dream interpretation is easy to understand.

It was the Dalai Lama who declared that “sleep is the best meditation.” Meditation = sleep also represents a somewhat popular explanation of the unconscious workings of our dream state.

Shakespeare attempted to connect the dream state to that which lies beyond even this mortal realm:

To die, to sleep - 
To sleep, perchance to dream - ay, there’s the rub,
For in this sleep of death what dreams may come...
― Hamlet

Returning to the subject at hand: Do daydreams constitute meditation? Many would answer in the affirmative, noting that daydreaming may simply be a more creative or even inspired form of meditation. Just as there is REM sleep — that stage of sleep in which dreaming is the most comprehensive or involved — perhaps daydreaming may be thought of as the most intensive form of the conscious creative state.

More specifically, can a daydream reach beyond this mortal sphere? What of those who receive inspiration as they consciously let go of the present? I will forgo broaching this subject further, let alone making any declarative statements on the issue. Let me only say that I believe the question itself is worthy of meditation.

The waking mind is least serviceable to the arts. ― Henry Miller

The are a number of artists who have testified of this reality. And once again, this testifies to the incontrovertible need for conscious, semi-conscious and subconscious dreaming.

One of my favorite quotations on the intersection between the conscious and the subconscious — but more particularly as it relates to the life of the artist — is Vincent van Gogh’s observation: “I dream of painting and then I paint my dream.”

How much of van Gogh’s dreaming was in the semi-conscious (daydream) state is known only to the artist.

As a humble artist, let me simply note that “Daydream” represents my own visualization of the interplay between the conscious and the subconscious, between the real and the surreal, between the wakened and the meditative.

...And if anyone is wondering, yes, some of that which I have daydreamed is represented in this work.

Einstein Was Into Photography (Among Many Other Things)

Kevin Briggs
Albert Einstein in January 1936

Albert Einstein in January 1936

Here's a rather interesting tidbit from within the history of photography of which I myself was completely unaware: Albert Einstein patented an auto-exposure camera before Kodak was able to bring such to fruition. 

According to Jayphen Simpson of PetaPixel:

Five years before Kodak’s automatic Super Six-20, Dr. Albert Einstein received a patent for a camera which could automatically determine the proper aperture and exposure to take a photograph. Yes, that Einstein.

Einstein – along with German radiologist and inventor Gustav Bucky – designed the “light intensity self-adjusting camera” independently of Kodak, whose Super Six-20 was widely heralded as the first camera with with automatic exposure. Though there were outward similarities between the two cameras, the patent drawings show that the way they worked were fundamentally different, and Einstein’s camera was never manufactured.

Einstein employed an “electric eye”, or photoelectric sensor, in his invention, which was one of his approximately 50 patents.

Another extraordinary milestone in a wholly remarkable life.