The Story Behind “Dalí Atomicus,” One of the Most Influential Photographs Ever Taken
30 May 2024 | 12:31 pm

In 1941, American photographer Philippe Halsman met the surrealist artist Salvador Dalí in New York City and they began to collaborate in the late 1940s. The 1948 work Dalí Atomicus explores the idea of suspension, depicting three cats flying, water thrown from a bucket, an easel, a footstool and Salvador Dalí all seemingly suspended in mid-air.

The title of the photograph is a reference to Dalí’s work Leda Atomica (at that which can be seen in the right of the photograph behind the two cats.) Halsman reported that it took 28 attempts to be satisfied with the result. This is the unretouched version of the photograph that was published in LIFE magazine.


The scene was set up at Halsman’s studio in New York City. To take the photograph, Halsman used a 4×5 twin-lens reflex camera that he had designed himself. The chair at the left was held up by an assistant. Both the painting Leda Atomica and the easel behind Dalí were suspended by wires. The step stool was supported by a prop.

Real cats and real buckets of water were used. Halsman also had assistants help him throw the cats and the water. To coordinate the assistants, Halsman counted to four. On three, the assistants threw the cats and the water. On four, Dalí jumped.


The coordination and timing was difficult to get right. For example, one take was ruined because Dalí jumped too late, another because the chair obstructed Dalí's face, and a third because someone else accidentally entered the frame. At least 26 takes were made before Halsman was satisfied with the final photograph. After every take, Halsman went into the darkroom to develop and print the film, while the assistants collected and dried the cats. The whole process lasted between five and six hours.
“My assistants and I were wet, dirty, and near complete exhaustion – only the cats still looked like new.” – Philippe Halsman, after the shoot.
When the photographs were being taken, the easel behind Dalí held only an empty frame. After the final photograph was chosen, Dalí painted, directly on the print, to produce the image shown. The final version was published in LIFE in 1948, along with some of the spoiled takes.

In 2016, TIME magazine named Dalí Atomicus one of the “100 most influential photographs ever taken.” TIME credits Halsman for transforming portrait photography, as prior to Halsman, there was generally a certain distance between the subject and the photographer. The New York Times called Dalí Atomicus “probably Halsman’s most memorable single work.”







Amazing Fashion Photography by Terence Donovan in the 1960s
30 May 2024 | 8:56 am

Born 1936 in Stepney in the East End of London, English photographer and film director Terence Donovan was noted for his fashion photography of the 1960s. A book of his fashion work, Terence Donovan Fashion, was published 2012.

Fashion photography by Terence Donovan in the 1960s

In the early 1970s, Donovan branched out into film production and it was during this period that he moved his studio to 30 Bourdon Street, Mayfair, now marked by a memorial plaque.

Donovan shot for various fashion magazines, including Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, as well as directing some 3000 TV commercials, and the rarely seen 1973 cop film, Yellow Dog starring Jiro Tamiya. He also made documentaries and music videos, and painted.

In 1996, Donovan hanged himself after suffering from depression. His last interview appeared in a British photography magazine a few weeks after his death. These amazing photos are part of his work that Terence Donovan took fashion portraits of classic beauties in the 1960s.

Ros Watkins in a fashion shoot for Acrilan, photo by Terence Donovan, London, 1961

Celia Hammond, photo by Terence Donovan, London, UK, September 1962

Marie Lise in satin tunic embroidered with jet over black velvet dress by Hartnell, Celia Hammond in black velvet Empire dress with brilliant pink satin skirt woven with black velvet swirls by Mattli, photo by Terence Donovan, 1963

Nancy Kwan has just had her hair cut in the new look by Vidal Sassoon, photo by Terence Donovan, Vogue, October 1963

Sonia Dene, photo by Terence Donovan, Woburn Abbey, Queen, January 5, 1963

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The “Scenic Spiral Wheel” Was an Unusual Ride at Coney Island’s Luna Park From the 1910s
30 May 2024 | 4:18 am

The Scenic Spiral Wheel, better known as The Top, was a unique roller coaster installed in Coney Island’s Luna Park back in 1917. It was a 45 ton, 70 foot diameter steel wheel that was tipped towards its heavier side where it rested on its bottom edge.


Roller coaster track spiraled around its outer rim from its top to its bottom. As the four car train circled the rim of the wheel, its weight changed the wheel's tilt so that the entire rig gyrated around like a top running low on spin. The train slowly spiraled down and covered 3200 feet of track in two and one half minutes. A second train with a separate admission climbed up to the top of the wheel, then descended through a long tunnel.

The wheel was more interesting to watch than to ride, and consequently only lasted through the 1921 season.


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