For the last decade, Kansas-based photographer Chad Cowan has driven almost 100,000 miles across the United States chasing powerful supercell thunderstorms and recording them in high definition. The endeavor began as a personal project to capture a few storms as they developed but quickly grew into a full-blown obsession. Cowan has recorded hundreds of storms and condensed the highlights into this short film titled Fractal with editing help from Kevin X Barth. He shares about the nature of thunderstorms:
The ingredient based explanation for supercell thunderstorms cites moisture, wind shear, instability and lift as the reasons for their formation. I prefer to focus on the big picture. Supercell thunderstorms are a manifestation of nature’s attempt to correct an extreme imbalance. The ever ongoing effort to reach equilibrium, or viscosity, is what drives all of our weather, and the force with which the atmosphere tries to correct this imbalance is proportional to the gradient. In other words, the more extreme the imbalance, the more extreme the storm.
NASA’s Juno spacecraft launched in 2011, arriving at Jupiter in July of 2016 to begin a series of what will eventually be 12 orbits around the Solar System’s largest planet. The path selected for this particular mission is a wide polar orbit, most of which is spent well away from Jupiter. But once every 53 days Juno screams from top to bottom across the surface of the gaseous planet, recording data and snapping photographs for two hours. It takes around 1.5 days to download the six megabytes of data collected during the transit.
Juno only takes a handful of still photographs each time it passes Jupiter, all of which are made available to the public. Lucky for us Sean Doran stitched together the images from Juno’s last transit (colorized by Gerald Eichstädt) to create an approximate video/animation of what it looks like to fly over the giant planet. Music added by Avi Solomon.
No, this isn’t digital. Filmed by documentary filmmaker Francis Chee, this amazing video captures the microscopic view of a frog egg as it begins to divide from two cells into millions over a period of about 33 hours. It’s astounding to think that each and every one of us started off just like this. (via Sploid)
In this documentary short titled Ten Meter Tower, Swedish filmmakers Maximilien Van Aertryck and Axel Danielson paid 67 people $30 to climb to the top of a ten meter (33 foot) high dive for the very first time all while being filmed. Would they decide to jump? Would they be too scared? The resulting footage is surprisingly riveting as people slowly come to terms with their fears and make a decision. It’s one thing to admit defeat in private, but adding the cameras must add a near insurmountable amount of pressure. The filmmakers share with the New York Times:
In our films, which we often call studies, we want to portray human behavior, rather than tell our own stories about it. We hope the result is a series of meaningful references, in the form of moving images. “Ten Meter Tower” may take place in Sweden, but we think it elucidates something essentially human, that transcends culture and origins. Overcoming our most cautious impulses with bravery unites all humankind. It’s something that has shaped us through the ages.
Ten Meter Tower premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival. (via Metafilter)
Last October, photographer Johannes Holzer braved the winter cold to setup a series of long-exposure shots along the the Isar, a river in Southern Germany. To accomplish the eye-popping view of the Milky Way, a mountainous landscape, and the murky depths of the river he relied on two cameras to shoot three photos from roughly the same perspective, stitched together here in a final image. Holzer says the photo “was done with two cameras, [the] sky with a Sony A7r and Vixen Polarie Startracker, one additional shot for the landscape without [a] Startracker, [and] underwater was done with a Canon 5Dm2 with an EWA Underwater case.”
Holzer specializes in Milky Way photography and landscapes, you can see much more of his work on Karwendelbilder. (via Reddit)
As artist John Edmark's sculptures wiggle, wobble, and twist before your eyes like some alien creature, it’s hard to believe that what you’re seeing is a real physical object—but we assure you it is, with a bit of trick photography and some heady mathematics thrown in for good measure. Blooms 2 (a year in the making) is the latest collection of wild strobe-animated sculptures that begin life as computer programs written in Python before being 3D printed and set in motion on a table, but the patterns you see are created, in a sense, by nature itself.
“Blooms are based on the same geometry nature uses in many plant forms, including artichokes, sunflowers, and pinecones, all of which share the same underlying mathematical pattern,” Edmark shares with Colossal. He explains in more detail how each sculpture is designed:
Blooms are 3-D printed sculptures designed to animate when spun under a strobe light. Unlike a 3D zoetrope, which animates a sequence of small changes to objects, a bloom animates as a single self-contained sculpture. The bloom’s animation effect is achieved by progressive rotations of the golden ratio, phi (ϕ), the same ratio that nature employs to generate the spiral patterns we see in pinecones and sunflowers. The rotational speed and strobe rate of the bloom are synchronized so that one flash occurs every time the bloom turns 137.5º (the angular version of phi).
While the strobe is necessary to witness the animation when viewing these pieces in person, for the sake of creating this video filmmaker Charlie Nordstrom set the camera to a short shutter speed that freezes individual “frames” of the spinning sculpture.
Many of Edmark’s pieces are now in galleries and permanent museum collections around the world. You can see several of his sculptures right now at the Exploratorium in San Francisco and the Technorama in Winterthur, Switzerland. You can also see some of his first designs in his original Blooms video, and for what it’s worth, we also carry his amazing Helicone sculpture in the Colossal Shop.