After Dark: Photography

Thursday, May 7, 2015 • 6:00–10:00 p.m.

Exploratorium, Pier 15

$15 General; $10 Members; Free for Lab Members

Adults Only (18+)

Note: A ticket to Thursday evening adult-only hours does not guarantee admission to special programs with limited seating. Tickets for limited-capacity programs will be made available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.

Motes of light, chemicals and techniques common and obscure, glass plates and paper, robots, pigeons and kites—all have played, and continue to play, a role in capturing fleeting time and faraway places in photographic images. Join us for an evening exploring photography’s evolution from analog to digital, looking at photographic printing techniques, and hearing from photographers about their art and craft and what makes an image memorable.

Download Program (pdf)





How to Photograph an Atomic Bomb With Peter Kuran
7:00 p.m., Kanbar Forum
Peter Kuran, atomic history documentary producer and author of How to Make an Atomic Bomb, will share some of the most compelling and newly declassified photographs of atomic testing conducted by the US military after WWII.

What Makes a Picture Memorable? With Aude Oliva, PhD
8:30 p.m., Kanbar Forum
Photographs and images are everywhere, but while some stick in our minds, others are quickly forgotten. hear and see the results of MIT neuroscientist and computer scientist Aude Oliva’s fascinating research into the question “What makes a picture memorable?”

Wet-Plate Collodion Photography With Peter DaSilva
6:30, 7:30, 8:30, and 9:30 p.m., Central Gallery
Blending 150-year-old wet-plate collodion technology with 1950s flashes, photographer Peter daSilva will convert part of the central Gallery into a photo studio. his assistant Tomas will narrate the process as daSilva creates photographic plates of his subjects. Special thanks to Bostick & Sullivan and Magna Chrome

Pigeon Surveillance Photography in the Digital Age With Dino D'Ercole and Bill Milestone
6:30–9:30 p.m., West Gallery, Explainer Station
During World Wars I and II, homing pigeons were used for battlefield surveillance photography. Exploratorium photographer Amy Snyder and Dino d’Ercole, Joe LaFauci, and Bill Milestone, pigeon breeders and members of the San Francisco Racing pigeon club, joined forces to replicate that technology in the digital age, sans quadcopters. Meet the descendants of the surveillance photography pigeons and watch footage made by Spike, a star racing pigeon.

Tintypes With the California Historical Society and Ed Drew
6:30–9:30 p.m., East Gallery Corridor
The California Historical Society’s new series focuses on contemporary artists embracing historic techniques. Air national Guard Staff Sergeant and photographer Ed drew uses the tintype process. he will showcase his modern-day portraits of Modoc descendants and the equipment he uses to make them.

Kite Aerial Photography With Cris Benton
6:30–9:30 p.m., East Gallery
Look on as landscape photographer and Exploratorium Artist-in-Residence Cris Benton displays and demonstrates the gear he uses for aerial photography—a quiver of handmade kites and robotic cradles that control his camera from up to a kilometer away.

Photographing the Universe With Hubble With Zolt Lavey
8:00 p.m., Phyllis C. Wattis Webcast Studio
Black holes, luminous supernovas, and sights more than 13.4 billion light-years from Earth. Those and more were captured by the hubble Space Telescope over the past 25 years. The more than one million stunning images produced help us understand the mysteries of the universe. Hubble imaging expert Zolt Levay from the Space Telescope Institute will discuss the science and art of translating hubble’s data into colorful photographs of the cosmos.

Picturing California: 165 Years of Photography at the Oakland Museum of California With Drew Johnson
7:30 p.m., Bay Observatory Gallery
Drew Johnson, Curator of Photography & Visual Culture at Oakland Museum of California, provides a view of the Port of Oakland, the San Francisco Bay Bridge, Angel Island, the Oakland hills, Richmond, and more. discover the Oakland Museum’s photography collection and fascinating stories about the photographers and their subjects.

Photos From the Archives
6:00–10:00 p.m., West Gallery, Black Box
Since the Exploratorium opened its doors in the fall of 1969, photographs have captured myriad museum happenings and projects. See images from the Exploratorium’s vast treasure trove, projected with an old-fashioned slide projector and screen.

Anonymous Photographs With Scott Tolmie
6:00–10:00 p.m., West Gallery
These photographs, collected by photo archivist Scott Tolmie over nearly 40 years, represent a personal portrait of human behavior. Both the people in them and the photographers behind the camera depict relationships that are familiar and deeply felt but unknowable, inviting us to tell their story.

Robots Take Pictures Too With Paul Doherty
7:00 p.m., Phyllis C. Wattis Webcast Studio
Robots have gone where no one has gone before and sent back photographs of things never before seen. Witness robot-captured photos of hellaciously hot venus, cryogenically cold Titan, and many places in between.

Cameras and the Geometry of Vision With Paul Stepahin
9:00 p.m., Phyllis C. Wattis Webcast Studio
As cameras became more sophisticated, so too did our understanding of projective geometry. In this brief talk, we’ll explore how the art of photography has helped reveal the elegant mathematics of vision.

From Private to Public: Photography as Inquiry With Susan Schwartzenberg
9:00 p.m., Bay Observatory Gallery
Join visual artist and Bay observatory director Susan Schwartzenberg for a series of reflections on photography as a research tool. using a selection of her past projects, we’ll examine her use of photographs for personal, scientific, and documentary practices.


StrangeLove With Das Bus
6:00–10:00 p.m., The Plaza
Some suggest that the more we connect to screens and devices, the less we connect with each other. Tonight, connect with strangers through the photo booth experience. Warning: human interactions may be strange, hilarious, uncomfortable, or beautiful—and may even result in friendship. photo strips for StrangeLove participants are free; those for pre-established friends and lovers are $5 per session.

Closed-Eye Vision, Music by Jeffrey Alexander
6:00–10:00 p.m., Tactile Dome

Tilt Shift-O-Scope Telescope By Nicole Catrett
6:00–10:00 p.m. (Tonight Only!)
Catwalk overlooking the Tinkering Studio
The Tilt Shift-O-Scope, created by Exploratorium exhibit designer Nicole Catrett, is a special telescope that uses a very large lens and a tilted glass screen to make the world look like a toy model of itself.

Life-Size Stop-Motion Animation With Tinkering Studio staff
6:30–9:30 p.m., Tinkering Studio
Star in your own animated short film! Stop-motion animation uses a series of still photographs to create the illusion motion. Limited capacity. First come, first served.

Lens Talk About It With the Field Trip Explainers
6:30–10:00 p.m., Central Gallery, Explainer Station
Did you know our eyes have lenses, just like cameras?! Come explore this world of lenses with our collection of glass, plastic, and real cow eye lenses! Materials will also be available to make your own water and gelatin lenses!

Pinhole Viewers With the Explorables
7:00–10:00 p.m., Central Gallery
Be ready for the next eclipse, or just treat yourself to a new view of your old neighborhood! The Explorables volunteers will help you make handheld pinhole viewers that will lend you a whole new perspective. All materials provided; take what you make.

Curiosity Camera Cabinet
6:00–10:00 p.m., Tinkering Studio display cases

Cow Eye Dissection With the Explainers
7:00, 8:00, and 9:00 p.m., East Gallery

Camera Dissection With the Explainers
7:30, 8:30, and 9:30 p.m., East Gallery

Photograms With Tinkering Studio Staff
6:30, 7:30, and 8:30 p.m., East Gallery Mezzanine Lab
Learn to create images with photosensitive paper and developing agents. Small groups; first come, first served.

Rickshaw Camera Obscura With the Explainers
6:00–8:00 p.m., North Gallery

Camera Obscura With the Explainers
6:00–8:00 p.m., Bay Observatory Terrace


The Horse in Motion By Eadweard Muybridge
6:00–10:00 p.m., West Gallery
Captured in 1878 as an informal study of equine locomotion, these series of photographs became evidence of a horse’s gait and a protocinematic motion study.

Driven: True Stories of Inspiration By Amy Snyder and Dia Felix
6:00–10:00 p.m. (looping), West Gallery, Mind Cinema
These photo essays tell diverse human stories, captured moment by moment in black and white.


Look for our photography exhibits marked by a film strip icon.

Buying tickets in advance is strongly recommended; door sales are limited. Tickets for limited-capacity programs will be made available to visitors on a first-come, first-served basis.

Experience life After Dark, an evening series exclusively for adults that mixes cocktails, conversation, and playful, innovative science and art events.

Not a theater, cabaret, or gallery, After Dark contains aspects of all three. Each evening showcases a different topic—from music to sex to electricity—but all include a cash bar and film screenings, plus an opportunity to play with our hundreds of hands-on exhibits. Join us and mingle with inventive scientists, artists, musicians, programmers, and designers. Enjoy live performances, provocative films, interesting music, cutting-edge technology, unexpected extravaganzas, and more, depending on each evening's lineup. And all night long, delicious nibbles and outrageous bay views are available at the SeaGlass restaurant. Leave the kids at home and meet friends or take a date. Where else can you find an intellectually stimulating playground for adults?

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