If you take a flash picture at night with an entirely empty background, the foreground object will seem to be floating in inky blackness. In this picture, a bearded iris is in the foreground but all the background stuff is so far off that the flash doesn’t reach it.

I would have tried a few other things to see if I could get a better example, but it was cold and I got bored quickly. Maybe some other time. What would be a good object to study?

December 16, 2020 — Irvine, California

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A BETTER WAY TO DO THIS?

We have an ambitious $350,000 online fundraising goal this month and we can't afford to come up short. But when a reader recently asked how being a nonprofit makes Mother Jones different from other news organizations, we realized we needed to lay this out better: Because "in absolutely every way" is essentially the answer.

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