Tag Archives: black and white

Photographer Nicolas Bouvier Shoots Figures in Silhouette Against Mysterious and Foreboding Landscapes 

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In what could easily have been snapshots of a normal day at the beach or a hike through the woods, these photos by Nicolas Bouvier (previously) portray figures exploring the Pacific Northwest in stark, mysterious contrast. The French art director and concept designer is a master of teasing unusual scenes from breathtaking landscapes around the coast of Washington. By placing himself in foggy atmospheres and shooting against the sun, his photography turns passersby (and often images of his own children) into anonymous silhouettes. Instead of lugging around lots of equipment, Bouvier carries only a smaller and relatively inexpensive point-and-shoot Panasonic ZS40 or a Leica XVario, preferring ergonomy, simplicity, and design over more elaborate setups. You can explore more of his recent work on Flickr.

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X-Ray Photographs From the 1930s Expose the Delicate Details of Roses and Lilies 

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“Lotus,” ca. 1930, vintage gelatin silver print, 11 1/4 x 9 1/4 inches. All imagery courtesy Joseph Bellows Gallery.

When selecting flowers we are often first attracted to their vibrant colors, eager to choose a bright orange lily or deep red rose. Dr. Dain L. Tasker, an early 20th century radiologist, was attracted to a different feature of the blooms—their anatomy. Using X-ray film to highlight the soft layering of petals and leaves, Tasker produced ghostly images devoid of color, each image appearing more like an ink drawing than photograph.

Born in 1872 in Beloit, Wisconsin, Tasker was the chief radiologist at the Wilshire Hospital in Los Angeles when radiology was in its first stages of exploration. He first became interested in photography in the 20s, focusing his hobby on landscape and portraiture. It wasn’t until the the 30s that he began to connect his career and hobby, moving his photographic interests to the X-ray machine and singling out flowers from his previously photographed landscape environments.

By composing images with singular flowers Taker examined their individualistic qualities rather than focusing on how they might be found grouped in nature or a bouquet. These minimal compositions contain a romantic appreciation for his subject matter. “Flowers are the expression of the love life of plants,” he said in a statement.

A selection of Tasker’s X-ray images can be seen in the exhibition “Floral Studies” at Joseph Bellows Gallery in La Jolla, California which runs through February 19, 2016. (via Hyperallergic)

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“A Rose,” 1936, vintage gelatin silver print, 11 1/4 x 9 1/8 inches

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“Yellow Calla Lily,” 1938, vintage gelatin silver print, 11 3/8 x 9 1/4 inches

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“untitled, (lily),” 1932, vintage gelatin silver print, 11 1/4 x 9 inches

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“Philodendron,” 1938, vintage gelatin silver print, 11 3/8 x 9 inches

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“Peruvian Daffodil,” 1938, vintage gelatin silver print, 11 1/2 x 9 1/4 inches

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“Fuchsia,” 1938, vintage gelatin silver print, 9 1/2 x 7 1/4 inches

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“Delphinium,” 1938, vintage gelatin silver print, 11 1/4 x 9 1/8 inches

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“Tulip,” 1931, vintage gelatin silver print, 9 x 7 inches

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“California Holly,” 1937, vintage gelatin silver print, 11 3/8 x 9 1/8 inches

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The Black and White Anthropomorphic Illustrations of David Álvarez 

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All images courtesy of David Álvarez. This image was made in collaboration with Julia D

David Álvarez produces soft illustrations that seem to glow despite their often limited color palette of black and white. The graphite scenes depict animals either interacting with or as humans, often donning elaborate garments while engaged in activities such as dancing or reading books.

“I always found it amazing how artists worked in the earlier days, I think of the technological limitations and how it took talent, skill, and patience to develop works of great complexity,” Álvarez told Colossal. “That was one reason why, since I was a student, I felt interest in figurative drawing for handling light and shadow. At school I discovered graphite and its possibilities. When I started working on my own I noticed that my personality and my way of working suited that particular technique.”

Mesoamerica is one of the illustrator’s favorite subjects to produce works around. Recently he created a book surrounding Mesoamerican myth titled Ancient Night that follows a rabbit and opossum’s adventures with pulque, a fermented prehispanic beverage.

Seen here are a number of collaborations with illustrator Julia Diaz. You can explore more of Álvarez’s illustrations on his Instagram and blog.

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David Álvarez in collaboration with Julia D

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Woody: A Stop-Motion Short about the Unfulfilled Dreams of Wooden Art Mannequin 

Filmed over a period spanning two years, this stop-motion short titled Woody by filmmaker Stuart Bowen tells the story of a wooden art mannequin who dreams to play the piano but can’t because he lacks fingers. The film is free of both dialogue and color, and instead oozes with a stylistic attention to detail in lighting, sets, and animation techniques mastered by Bowen and his team. Woody was first released in 2013 and toured festivals worldwide before finally ending up online for the first time this week. You can read a bit more about it on Short of the Week, and find a making-of video included below.

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NYPL Shares Huge Archive of 180,000 High-Res Public Domain Images Online, Announces ‘Remix Residency’ 

At a small American Legion carnival near Bellows Falls, Vermont. Photo by Jack Delano, 1941.

At a small American Legion carnival near Bellows Falls, Vermont. Photo by Jack Delano, 1941.

The New York Public Library just released high-resolution scans of 180,000 public domain images including photographs, etchings, watercolors, sheet music, maps, stereoscopic views, and other images dating back as far as the 11th century. From their press release:

Did you know that more than 180,000 of the items in our Digital Collections are in the public domain? That means everyone has the freedom to enjoy and reuse these materials in almost limitless ways. The Library now makes it possible to download such items in the highest resolution available directly from the Digital Collections website. No permission required. No restrictions on use.

Not only is the NYPL encouraging people to use these public domain images in their personal endeavors without restriction, they’ve also announced the NYPL Labs Remix Residency for “artists, information designers, software developers, data scientists, and journalists.” Selected individuals will have the opportunity to work on-site at the NYPL as part of a paid residency to create work from this near endless resource of imagery. If that sounds interesting to you—which I know it does—you can apply online here.

They’ve also built a fantastic visual search tool that allows you to sort images by genre, date, and even color. Go make something amazing people! (via Kottke)

Soleil couchant. Watercolor, 1875. Félix Bracquemond.

Soleil couchant. Watercolor, 1875. Félix Bracquemond.

Daughter of Mr. Buck Grant, Negro preacher near Woodville, Greene County, Georgia. Photo by Jack Delano, 1941.

Daughter of Mr. Buck Grant, preacher near Woodville, Greene County, Georgia. Photo by Jack Delano, 1941.

Seventh Avenue looking south from 35th Street, Manhattan. 1935.

Seventh Avenue looking south from 35th Street, Manhattan. 1935.

DINNER TO S & H MANAGERS [held by] SPERRY & HUTCHINSON [at] “WALDORF-ASTORIA, [NEW YORK]” (HOTEL;) 1907.

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Engraving of Miss O’Neill in the character of Belvidera in the stage production Venice Preserved, Act 3, Scene 1. Engraving. 1814.

Butterfly engravings, 1833 - 1830. Dumont d'Urville, Jules-Sébastien-César.

Butterfly engravings, 1833 – 1830. Dumont d’Urville, Jules-Sébastien-César.

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New Dreamlike Watercolor Paintings of Children Communing with Animals by Elicia Edijanto 

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Indonesian artist Elicia Edijanto (previously) has long been fascinated in the bond between animals and children. In her stark black watercolor paintings she depicts predatory beasts like cheetahs and bears as having a direct and intimate bond with children who accompany the animals as companions in misty, haze-filled landscapes. “Nature inspires me. My subjects are often children and animal because they are sincere, unprejudiced and unpretentious. There’s an innate relationship between them,” says the Edijanto.

Collected here are a few of her most recent paintings, several of which are currently on view at Snap! Orlando through the end of the month, and a number of her paintings are available as prints through Lumarte.

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Newly Restored Photos of Shackleton’s Fateful Antarctic Voyage Offer Unprecedented Details of Survival 

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This photo was taken when the crew felt they had a good chance of freeing the trapped Endurance from the sea ice of the Weddell Sea, so they put the sails up. As we know, this and other attempts failed, and realizing the ship wasn’t moving Hurley went onto the ice to take this photograph. New details of sea ice have been revealed. Photo by Frank Hurley 1914-1917. Single use permission from the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers.

In what may be one of history’s most famous successful failures, explorer Sir Ernest Shackleton and 27 other men set out on the Imperial Trans-Antarctic Expedition in 1914 to make what they hoped would be the first land crossing of Antarctica. The crew had hardly reached the continent when their ship was swallowed and crushed by ice. Freezing in unfathomably cold conditions, all 28 men survived for nearly 17 months in makeshift camps in a desperate trek back to civilization. Despite losing their ship, expedition photographer Frank Hurley was able to save his camera equipment, working in incredibly difficult conditions to document their plight. Nearly 100 years to the day of the ship sinking the Royal Geographic Society (RGS) has mounted the Enduring Eye: The Antarctic Legacy of Sir Ernest Shackleton and Frank Hurley, an exhibition of newly digitized images that provide incredible detail to the day-to-day life of the group of adventurers and survivors.

After 80 years of storing the original glass plate and celluloid negatives, RGS along with the Institute of British Geographers (IBG) has digitized over 90 images for the public. Due to enlargement, the photos reveal detail that had not been previously seen, like in the image of six crewmen huddled around the fire below. Previously, only five men were visible in the image, but after digitization it is now possible to make out a sixth man through the thick smoke of the flame.

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Photo by Frank Hurley 1914-1917. Single use permission from the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers.

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Photo by Frank Hurley 1914-1917. Single use permission from the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers.

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Photo by Frank Hurley 1914-1917. Single use permission from the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers.

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Photo by Frank Hurley 1914-1917. Single use permission from the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers.

Even modern photography would have been difficult in the antarctic conditions, but for Hurley it was nearly impossible. Glass plates were extremely heavy and would force the boat to carry unnecessary weight. In Hurley’s book “Argonauts of the South” written after the journey, he explained that he often had to risk his life to protect the plates. In one story, a time came to choose between tossing the plates or surplus food overboard. Hurley dumped the food.

Complete darkness was also a difficulty during the trip. This forced Hurley to light his subjects with flares, juggling a red hot flame while he manipulated a heavy camera. The effect of the technique was nothing short of cinematic, the image below showcasing the ship Endurance like a brilliant specter just before its fateful sinking.

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Iconic shot of the Endurance lit by flares at night. Photo by Frank Hurley 1914-1917. Single use permission from the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers.

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Wearing full polar clothing and gathered under the bow of the ship, photographed and filmed by Frank Hurley, probably on 1 September 1915. Glass Plate Negative: 6¼” x 4¾” (16cm x 12cm). Single use permission from the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers.

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Ernest Shackleton at Ocean Camp. Glass Plate Negative, 8 ½” x 6 ¼” (21.5cm x 16cm). Photo by Frank Hurley. Single use permission from the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers.

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Photo by Frank Hurley 1914-1917. Single use permission from the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers.

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Photo by Frank Hurley 1915. Single use permission from the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers.

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Photo by Frank Hurley 1914-1917. Single use permission from the Royal Geographical Society/Institute of British Geographers.

Each photograph of the expedition is both a testament to Shackleton’s ability to lead and will to survive, as well as to Hurley’s contribution to the canon of photography. To learn more about Shackleton’s fateful voyage check out the book Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage. If you want to explore the newly digitized images in person, make sure to catch the Enduring Eye which runs through February 28, 2016 at the Royal Geographic Society in London. The exhibition will then have a voyage of its own and travel to the US, Canada, and Australia. (via Al Jazeera)

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