His Mistakes

Some time between 1882 and 1941, an wise man that went by the name James Joyce said “A man’s errors are his portals of discovery”


Throughout history, there have been many cases of people making mistakes that eventually turned into a great invention.

Corn Flakes – 1894, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg left some boiled wheat sitting in the sun which eventually went stale.  The Kellogg brothers sent it through rollers to make some dough, instead flakes came out.  These flakes were then toasted and became a huge hit with his patients.  In 1906, the Kellogg’s company was founded … to sell Corn Flakes.

Microwave Ovens – While researching for the Raytheon Corporation, Percy Spencer was experimenting with a new vacuum tube called the magnetron.  As this happened, the candy bar in his pocket began to melt.  He then tried an experiment with popcorn, when it began to pop Spencer saw the potential and the first microwave oven was built in 1947.

Fireworks – Legend has it that it was accidentally invented by a cook, about 2000yrs ago, who mixed together charcoal, sulphur and saltpeper. When the mixture burned and compressed in a bamboo tube, it exploded.  Today various chemicals are added to a mixture of materials to create the different colours.

Penicillin – 1928, Alexander Fleming accidentally left a dish of the staph bacteria uncovered for a couple of days.  When he came back he saw bacterial growth except for the area of the Petri dish where the mould Penicillin notatum was growing.  The substance from this mould (named Penicillin) was later isolated by Howard Florey and Ernst Chain.  All 3 involved received the Nobel Prize in 1945, rightfully so as they revolutionised medicine as we know it. 

The image above is also a mistake, one of my favourites too.  I was out with some other photographers Josh Hendricks and Alex Cheung at Wollongong and Kiama doing some general location scouting and bits of landscape photography.  As we were climbing the rocks/cliff near Kiama blowhole, I decided to take some bracketed exposures for a HDR image.  Turns out when I got home, I decided to edit the –2 exposure and out came this photograph!  It was a classic example of everything falling into the right place at the right time:
– Bright skies with great clouds
– Dark rocks
– Josh in the photo
– Water on the rocks
– Polarizing filter on my lens
If one of the above elements wasn’t there, this image would be pretty ordinary.

After some quick researching, here are some other awesome examples of photographic mistakes that turned out great.  They include corrupt files, double exposed film, motion blur, wrong white balance, misfires, overexposed shots … whatever. 

Get out there and make some mistakes, one day you’ll tell me about it Smile

NB: Wollongong/Kiama photos still to come, stay tuned


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