Posts tagged with "My Modern Met"

Can you smell when rain is coming? Science says some people can—and some cannnot

May 24, 2023

Are you one of those people who can leave the house on a summer day and swear that you smell rain in the air? The world is firmly divided into two camps—those who can detect when rain is on the way and those who think that capability is utter nonsense.

While not everyone can smell the rain before it begins, there is actually scientific evidence that some people do possess this capability, reports My Modern Met.

Those with good olfactory senses are often able to pick up a scent that has, according to Scientific American, a “sweet, pungent zing” that’s been likened to chlorine bleach. This is owed to ozone, which can be emitted from things like fertilizer and paint, as well as natural sources.

Ozone can be created by an electrical charge that signals an oncoming storm. Downdrafts from a thunderstorm can carry the ozone created at high altitudes down to ground level and into our noses. While humans’ ability to smell ozone differs, there are people who can pick up on even slight traces and know that it’s probably time to grab an umbrella.

Another term associated with the smell of rain is petrichor. This word refers to the potpourri of scents that arrives once rain has arrived. All that falling water kicks up lots of molecules that produce scents.  First coined in 1964 by mineralogists Isabel Joy Bear and Richard Thomas, petrichor happens when airborne molecules from decaying plants or animals settle onto the surface of rocks. When the rain comes and hits the surface, the water droplets burst and release these scents into the air.

Most people also are familiar with the smell of damp earth that occurs once a rainstorm has moved out. That distinct smell is due to a chemical compound called geosmin. Even though it has an earthy smell, geosmin isn’t caused by dirt. It’s actually a byproduct of bacteria from the genus Streptomyces.

Studies have found that these bacteria have spores that contain geosmin, and that it’s used to attract insects and other animals so that these spores will be spread over more soil. So why is the scent so prevalent after the rain? A 2015 study found that water droplets falling onto soil trap air inside. When the air causes the droplet to burst, it creates aerosols that spray out whatever scent was on the ground. These aerosols can travel quite far, so depending on the amount of rainfall, it’s possible to smell quite a lot of geosmin.

So the next time someone tells you that it smells like rain, you’ll now know that they’re probably getting a whiff of ozone. And if someone mentions the way it smells after a rainstorm, you can impress them with your knowledge of what it is they’re actually smelling.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Snoopy has a real-life doppelgänger named Bayley

April 20, 2023

The Internet has discovered a new doppelgänger for Snoopy, the pup often seen lying on his doghouse in Charles M. Schultz‘s Peanuts comic strips—and the resemblance is uncanny, reports My Modern Met.

With a fluffy white face and floppy black ears, Bayley the Mini Sheepadoodle has quickly captured people’s imaginations as a real-life Snoopy. Her dedicated Instagram page has already garnered over 300,000 followers.

In Schultz’s comic, Snoopy is described as a beagle, and drawn with a long nose and cute rounded body. While Bayley is a different kind of breed—the result of crossing a Miniature Poodle with an Old English Sheepdog—she shares a lot with the comic’s lovable silent dog, including a black button nose and sweet dark eyes.

Bayley’s Instagram account is filled with sweet portraits taken by her adoring human. These photos and short videos make Bayley out to be the perfect model, posing calmly for the camera, which adds to the similarity between her and Snoopy.

A note to her legions of fans: She also has a birthday coming up on May 4, when she will turn two years old.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Mr. Doodle covers all the walls in his signature doodles for Art Basel-Hong Kong

April 10, 2023

The last time British artist Mr. Doodle went viral, he’d spent two years transforming his home into a work of art. Now, he’s taken his signature doodles to Art BaselHong Kong—a contemporary art fair that travels the world (with an event planned for next December in Miami).

While there are traditional canvases, he couldn’t help but doodle the entire booth put together by Pearl Lam Galleries, and the results are incredible, reports My Modern Met.

Mr. Doodle’s work is typically black and white, but here he’s injected the entire rainbow into the installation. The effect is an immersive experience that can’t help but make you smile. While his work is inspired by cartoons and video games, his doodles are also based on his own life. These new pieces follow him, his wife (Mrs. Doodle), and his dog (Doodle Dog) along on a series of adventures through DoodleWorld.

These adventures include a journey to outer space where the duo fights off aliens, as well as quiet moments of joy while the couple awaits the arrival of a baby. By adding these personal touches, Mr. Doodle brings us along with his family and allows us a peek behind the curtain of his real life.

While Art Basel-Hong Kong concluded at the end of March, Mr. Doodle’s work in China isn’t finished. His show, Mr. Doodle in Love, is currently on view until June 18 at the K11 Art Space in Wuhan. The exhibit, which was also arranged by Pearl Lam Galleries, showcases his daily life and love for his wife, Mrs. Doodle.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Popular Instagram photographer confesses that his work is AI-generated

March 1, 2023

As more and more AI-generated images flood the Internet, you might start thinking that it is easy to tell what is real and what isn’t. For instance, too many fingers or the appearance of random limbs is one obvious giveaway. But, the work of popular Instagram photographer Joe Avery drives home the point that the line between AI imagery and work created by actual photographers is becoming more and more blurred, reports My Modern Met.

Avery’s admired “portrait photography” has recently unraveled with the photographer’s own admission of his work being entirely AI-generated. His confession also brings up questions of when and how to disclose the use of AI in content creation.

A ‘portrait’ by Joe Avery. (Photo source: My Modern Met)

Avery opened his portrait photography account on Instagram last October. And in just a few short months, his stunning black-and-white photographs amassed a following of about 12,000 people. But what his followers, who wrote enthusiastic comments about how much his work inspired them, didn’t realize is that Avery hadn’t picked up a camera at all. All of his images were created using Midjourney and then retouched by him.

In early January, feeling “conflicted” about deceiving his followers, he came clean to the online publication, Ars Tecnica, via email. “[My Instagram account] has blown up to nearly 12K followers since October, more than I expected,” he wrote. “Because it is where I post AI-generated, human-finished portraits. Probably 95%+ of the followers don’t realize. I’d like to come clean.”

Avery went on to clarify that while his original intent was to fool his followers and then write an article about it, he’d come to enjoy the process of creating these AI images and saw it as a creative outlet that he wanted to share openly. Though Avery’s account now clearly states in the bio that the images are AI and that he is creating digital art, that was not always the case.

In fact, prior to his confession, Avery remained vague about the origins of the images and frequently replied to comments by followers praising his work. The account has now deleted all user comments, but PetaPixel published screen captures of these interactions.

Under one image, a portrait photographer who followed the account wrote, “Thank you for the inspiration you provide day after day with your wonderful portraiture. I stop, take a long look, reflect, and most certainly learn from every post you share.” Avery simply replied, “Thanks very much for taking the time to share that. It means a lot.”

In another instance, someone outright asked Avery what equipment he used to shoot his photos and, instead of stating that they are AI-generated, he answered that he uses Nikon. However, Avery told Ars Tecnica that as his following grew, he started feeling guilty about the deception.

“It seems ‘right’ to disclose [AI-generated art] many ways—more honest, perhaps,” Avery shared. “However, do people who wear makeup in photos disclose that? What about cosmetic surgery? Every commercial fashion photograph has a heavy dose of Photoshopping, including celebrity body replacement on the covers of magazines.”

Of course, techniques to hide certain things or create illusions have long been part of most art forms; but, as Ars Tecnica points out, “misrepresenting your craft is another thing entirely.” Now that he’s come clean, Avery will find out how the public views his deception.

For his part, Avery does see his work as a form of creativity. In explaining his creative process, he stated that he generated nearly 14,000 images using Midjourney in order to arrive at the 160 posted to Instagram. He then combines the best parts of the generated images and retouches them in Lightroom and Photoshop to achieve a realistic look.

“It takes an enormous amount of effort to take AI-generated elements and create something that looks like it was taken by a human photographer,” Avery shares. “The creative process is still very much in the hands of the artist or photographer, not the computer.”

These works of digital art certainly do look like real photos. Given what we’ve seen in terms of unedited AI imagery, a lot of hours were surely spent to make sure that certain aspects like the eyes and hands look real. Many of Avery’s images are also accompanied by a short fictional story about the person pictured. These words certainly enhance the imagery and were likely part of why his account gained popularity.

But now that he’s confessed that these images are digital art and not his own photography, the question is what will the response be? Will people not care and will his following continue to grow? Or will people, particularly other photographers, turn their back on this form of deception?

Currently, he has nearly 28,000 followers and continues to post frequently. While his Instagram biography refers to AI and digital art, he continues to use popular photography hashtags like #peoplephotography on his images, with no hashtags mentioning AI, Midjourney, or digital art.

Avery’s case is an interesting one and could understandably instill fear in photographs who look at AI as yet another way they could lose work. If Avery’s Instagram followers couldn’t tell the difference, that means that advertisers and other paying clients probably also would not have. It’s not difficult to see how we might not be too far away from digital art replacing photography in some scenarios.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Paul McCartney’s ‘lost’ Beatles photos to go on exhibition at London’s National Portrait Gallery

February 6, 2023

After closing its doors three years ago for a major redevelopment project, London’s National Portrait Gallery will open again in June. And to celebrate its comeback, the museum has announced a spectacular exhibit of never-before-seen photographs of The Beatles, reports My Modern Met.

Taken by Paul McCartney, they will be included in 1963-64: Eyes of the Storm, which opens on June 28, 2023.

The photographs were taken by McCartney during the critical period when The Beatles rocketed to international success. Through his lens, McCartney takes us behind the scenes of “Beatlemania.” The intimate work gives insight into what it was like to go from performing locally in Liverpool to taking the stage on The Ed Sullivan Show with over 70 million people tuning in to watch.

The portraits, all taken with a 35mm camera, also will be included in a coffee-table book with the same name, also set to be released in June. The book will contain 275 photographs, which were culled from McCartney’s private archive. Incredibly, the iconic musician had completely forgotten about the images, and they were only rediscovered in 2020 along with thousands of other photos from his archive.

“Anyone who rediscovers a personal relic or family treasure is instantly flooded with memories and emotions, which then trigger associations buried in the haze of time,” McCartney shared. “This was exactly my experience in seeing these photos, all taken over an intense three-month period of travel, culminating in February 1964.”

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Man photographs a real-life ‘Angry Bird’ right in his own backyard

January 31, 2023

Scott Taylor recently got more than he bargained for while photographing birds snacking on seeds in his family’s backyard in Nebraska. While there were many birds in the yard that day, one particularly determined northern cardinal made a beeline for the bird feeder. And that’s when Taylor was able to capture the image that he captioned, “playing a quick game of ‘Angry Birds,’” reports My Modern Met.

After posting the photograph to Facebook, Taylor was amazed by the attention the image received. “I am from a town of 960 people where everyone knows pretty much everyone,” he tells My Modern Met. “So to receive the amount of attention that I received was absolutely crazy to me. People from all over the world started contacting me.

Taylor, who has been passionate about photography since he was a teenager, is particularly fond of nature and wildlife photography. So, when his parents called him to let him know that their bird feeders were full of birds, he went right over to test out the camera that he’d recently received as a gift from his wife. The home has a large window in the kitchen, where he had the perfect view of the birds flying back and forth from a blue spruce tree to the bird feeders, where they were feasting on black sunflower seeds.

“I grabbed my camera and joined them at the kitchen window, and I was amazed at how their colors popped out from the white snow and the cloudy sky. The feeders and the tree were filled with house finches, American goldfinches, red-bellied woodpeckers, nut hatches, ladder-back woodpeckers, and, of course, the northern cardinals,” Taylor recalls. “I opened the kitchen window and instantly started snapping pictures of all of the birds. I was taking pictures of the cardinal when it decided to fly to the feeder to grab a sunflower snack from the feeders—not knowing until I arrived at home that I captured that bird completely focused in flight looking right at me.”

The cropped version of Taylor’s photograph shows just how determined this cardinal was to get a snack. And, as Taylor perfected said, the bird does look almost angry. The photo is truly reminiscent of an iconic Angry Bird from the eponymous game, with the furrowed brow we’re so used to seeing.

For Taylor, it’s been a wonderful, and unexpected, treat to see his work so well received. “I was amazed,” he admits. “It was a one-in-million shot that was pure luck that I captured it.”

Research contact: @mymodernmet

This husband-calling contest is real and it’s as hilarious as you would think

January 23, 2023


If you’ve ever had trouble getting your husband’s attention, you might want to take some tips from participants in the Iowa State Fair‘s husband-calling contest. And, if you aren’t sure what husband-calling is, just take a look at the viral video that’s amassed over 17 million views on TikTok.


This clip from the Iowa State Fair shows contestants hollering for “Bob,” “Keith,” “Darryl,” and more fellas. And judging by their performances, you won’t want to mess with these women, reports My Modern Met.


  While the video is from a 2017 PBS Iowa broadcast, it gained new attention once it was posted by @_rhinestonecowboy on TikTok. The hilarious video shows a wide range of techniques, from operatic pleading to a good old-fashioned shout. 


Bonnie Swalell Eilert took home top prize in that year’s contest with a dressing down of her husband, Roy. Starting with a high-pitched shriek of his name, she made sure he knew that he better not be late. Her performance was convincing enough to make her the winner and to make anyone watching the video get moving just a bit quicker.


In a follow-up, @_rhinestonecowboy posted a clip from the 2021 competition. Swalell Eilert was among the contestants, telling Roy to “get yourself in here.” As always, the approaches to the calls were all different but equally amusing. Winner Camellia Pohl made an impression by trilling her r’s while lovingly calling out “Randy,” and telling him that dinner was ready.


So what does one win for being an expert husband caller? While everyone who participates gets a ribbon, only the lucky winner gets the prized blue ribbon and $5.


Husband calling isn’t the only unique contest that people can sign up for at the Iowa State Fair. The fair, held annually in August since 1854, features other events—including mom calling, chicken calling, cow chip throwing, and yodeling.


This year’s fair will be held from August 10 through August 20 in Des Moines.


Research contact: @mymodernmet

AI portraits reveal how young celebrities might look as they age

January 11, 2023

Most, if not all, people are curious about how they’ll look as they age. Although there’s no way to tell what the future holds, artificial intelligence (AI) could offer some clue, reports My Modern Met.

With the help of this technology, photographer and lawyer Alper Yesiltas is imagining what young celebrities will look like a few decades from now. In his series Young Age(d), Harry Styles, Billie Eilish, Justin Bieber, and more have aged forward many years to reveal gray hair and forehead wrinkles.

Yesiltas uses several applications, including AI photo enhancer Remini, to create his compelling generated portraiture. He first focuses on forming a face that’s “persuasive.” This is the hardest part of the process, as Yesiltas must strike a delicate balance between preserving a famous person’s current likeness while also including signifiers of their advanced age. But, he must be subtle about it; otherwise, we might not believe the change or recognize the individual. In Young Age(d), he’s achieved it—and left us wondering about other famous folks not included in the series.

If you’d like to see more impressive AI from Yesiltas, check out his project As If Nothing Happened. It features celebrity portraits of people who unexpectedly died—including Princess Diana, Janis Joplin, John Lennon, Elvis Presley, and Tupac Shakur—and imagines what they would have looked like, had they still been alive. They are not necessarily flattering, but they are fascinating for sure.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

‘Pissed-Off Cats Calendar’ delivers a year of sassy felines for 2023

December 23, 2022

Part of the joys of owning a cat is knowing that he or she is silently judging you 24/7 on the basis of even the most impromptu life decisions. Staring at you from across the room, many felines furrow their brows—indicating their deep disappointment with anything that does not directly benefit them. (“How could you go into the kitchen and not offer me a treat? Rude!”) This, of course, only makes us love them more; and now, there’s a calendar to celebrate your excessively finicky feline all year long, reports My Modern Met.

The Racoon Society has published its 2023 Pissed-Off Cats Calendar, with 12 kitties giving you a ton of sass each month.

The calendar features felines with peering eyes and over-it expression, accompanied by their inner monologues. In January, for instance, a kitty is nestled under a pile of cozy blankets and telling humans to “go find your own damn blankets.”

Seasonably appropriate, the photos and sentiments change as the calendar flips forward, but all are connected with the thread of seriously peevish cats who are sure to make you laugh the whole year.

The 2023 Pissed-Off Cats Calendar is wire coil-bound to make it easy to hang in your office, kitchen, or above your feline’s bed. Accompanying the amusing photography are 300+ fun official occasions, including National Pizza Day (February 9) and National Hug Your Cat Day (June 4).

Get your copy in The Racoon Society’s Etsy shop.

Research contact: @mymodernmet

Felines pose for portraits that are full of playful purrsonality

December 1, 2022

Cats are often seen as aloof, but if you spend any length of time with them you’ll know they are full of purrsonality. Self-proclaimed catographer Nils Jacobi offers a multifaceted look at felines through his growing portfolio of over 10,000 cat pictures. The images run the gamut from distinguished to silly and show all sides of fabulous felines, reports My Modern Met.


Some of the kitties have luxurious long fur (like Maine Coon cats), while others are shorthairs with a penchant for sticking out their tongues. “I love taking pictures of cats in action and funny portraits with unique facial expressions,” Jacobi tells My Modern Met.


His photos are polished and stylish, and he’s parlayed a love for felines into prolific commercial work for magazines and advertising in the pet industry.


Despite his love for cats and a large social media following, cats were not his first subjects when Jacobi started his photography career. He began taking pictures of people in 2011, but saw that his candid kitty photos got more buzz online and decided to focus his efforts there.


It’s a great deal for all involved; Jacobi prefers to work with animals over human models, and we get to enjoy his seemingly endless portfolio of cat content.


Research contact: @mymodernmet