Tag Archives: insects

Macro Photographs Composed of Nearly Ten Thousand Images Show the Incredible Detail of Insect Specimens 

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All images provided by Levon Biss

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Commercial photographer Levon Biss typically shoots portraits of world-class athletes—sports players caught in motion. His new series however, catches subjects that have already been paused, insect specimens found at the Oxford Museum of Natural History. The series originally started as a side-project capturing the detail of bugs that his son would catch at home, and is now displayed at the museum in an exhibition titled Microsculpture.

During the course of his selection from the museum’s collection Biss rejected more than 99% of the bugs he came across, only choosing those that were of the right size and color. To capture these subjects in such immense detail, each part of the insect required a completely different lighting setup.

“I will photograph an antenna and light that antenna so it looks as best as it possibly can,” said Biss. “Once I move onto the next section, for example the eye, the lighting will change completely. I work my way across the whole body of the insect until I end up with 30 different sections, each photographed individually.”

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Working in this comprehensive manner required between 8,000 and 10,000 shots for each final image, moving the camera just ten microns (1/7th of the width of a human hair) between each shot. With this volume of imagery, it takes over two weeks for Biss to complete each photograph start to finish.

You can see Microsculpture through October 30th at the Oxford University Museum of Natural History where the images are displayed next to their actual specimens. In case you can’t make it to the UK, you can take a detailed look at all 22 of Biss’s images on his interactive Microsculpture website. (via PetaPixel)

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Edouard Martinet’s Masterfully Sculpted Animals and Insects Made from Bicycle, Car, and Motorcycle Parts 

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Robin. Bronze, one of an edition of 12 copies, 22 x 32 x 18 cm. LEGS: springs , pieces of costume jewellery; BODY: children’s tricycle fender; FEATHERS: hood ornament of a Citroen; WINGS: petrol tank plates of a 50s motorcycle Monet-Goyon, bike chain guards; TAIL: car part, motorcycle decoration; EYES: marbles; HEAD: two seed scoops, ornaments for bike lights; BEAK: autoscope part, bike ornament.

French artist Edouard Martinet assembles faithful interpretations of birds, crustaceans, insects, and other creatures with countless objects from discarded bicycles, cars, and household objects. A bicycle pump forms the abdomen of a dragonfly, windshield wipers serve as the legs of a fly, or the metal logos of a bicycle manufacturer are layered to create the dense scales of a fish. All the more incredible considering Martinet never welds or solders his pieces, but instead uses only screws or fasteners, selecting only the perfect components that “fit” each assemblage like a puzzle. From Sladmore Contemporary:

What sets Martinet’s work apart is the brilliant formal clarity of his sculptures, and their extraordinary elegance of articulation. His degree of virtuosity is unique: he does not solder or weld parts. His sculptures are screwed together. This gives his forms an extra level of visual richness – but not in a way that merely conveys the dry precision of, say, a watchmaker. There is an X-Factor here, a graceful wit, a re-imagining of the obvious in which a beautifully finished object glows not with perfection, but with character, with new life.

Martinet will open a new exhibition of work at Sladmore Contemporary in London starting May 5th, 2016.

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Dragonfly, 115 x 54 x 80 cm. ABDOMEN: bicycle pump; THORAX: four bike rear lights, two small car lights, big upholstery tacks , gas cap, ball furniture casters; HEAD: two old bike headlights, inside round sunglasses, shoe tree parts, parts of a daisy wheel for typewriter (hair from the mouth), under the head parts of acetylene bike lights; LEGS: tubes, bike cable guide, wing nuts, cream chargers; WINGS: umbrella ribs, fencing wire, aluminium metal mesh.

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Dragonfly, detail.

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Fly, 47 x 40 x 27 cm. LEGS : windshield wiper arms, bike brakes, bike chains, small typewriter parts; HEAD: motor vehicle rear light; PROBOSCIS: car hood hinge; ANTENNAE: ski boot fasteners; THORAX: motorbike headlight; On the top : 50’s kitchen utensil. WINGS: the glass is set in a windscreen brush holder, the wing ribs are made with soldering wire; ABDOMEN: motorbike headlight, part of ceiling lamp.

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Fly, detail.

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Toad

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Sardine, 25 x 70 x 11 cm. BODY: Moped chain guard covered with multiple bicycle logo badges; HEAD: Solex front fenders, car bumpers. EYES: Flashlights; GILLS: Car door parts, bicycle chain guards. TAIL: Motorbike exhaust pipe; FINS: Cake tins.

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Sardine, detail.

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Black Swift, 45 x 20 x 17 cm. LEGS: springs, pieces of costume jewellery; BODY: silver sauce jug; WINGS and FEATHERS: petrol tank plates of a 50s Villier motorcycle, bike chain guards, scooter decoration; TAIL: car decoration; EYES: metal balls; HEAD: one seed scoop, bike headlight; BEAK: dental forceps.

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Black Swift, detail.

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Praying Mantis, 104 x 50 x 74 cm. ABDOMEN: bike fender, car ventilator and ski boots fasteners; WINGS: rear lights of a Peugeot 404; HEAD: two moped indicators; TOP FORELEGS: car mirror handles, ham slicers, nutcracker handles, spaghetti tongs; FOR ALL THE LEGS: the ends are parts from bike brakes plus a bit of bike chain; THE OTHER LEGS: windshield wiper arms, aluminium tubes; THORAX: car bumper, car mirror handles.

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When Given Colored Construction Paper, Wasps Build Rainbow Colored Nests 

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It’s unnerving to discover a wasp’s nest dangling outside your house, but perhaps it would be a tad less so with the help of biology student Mattia Menchetti who cleverly realized he could give colored construction paper to a colony of European paper wasps. By gradually providing different paper shades, the wasps turned their homes into a functional rainbow of different colors. This isn’t the first time scientists have encountered insects producing colorful materials with the aid of artificial coloring. In 2012, residue from an M&M plant caused local bees to make blue and green honey, and a similar—though admittedly more tragic—incident involving bees and the dye used in Maraschino cherries occured recently in New York. You can see more of Menchetti’s experiment on his website. (via Booooooom)

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Stirring the Swarm: A Horde of 10,000 Ceramic Beetles Crawl Across Gallery Walls 

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Like the Pied Piper of Hamelin, UK artist Anna Collette Hunt leads swarms of 10,000 ceramic insects in a traveling exhibition that first appeared several years ago in the towers of Wollaton Hall, England, home to a significant natural history collection. Hunt compares her marching throngs of beetles and butterflies to an awakening of sorts, the idea that her installations depict a reanimation of these long-dormant creatures framed behind glass or lost in drawers. From a statement about her process:

The exhibition is a result of Anna’s preoccupation with historic houses. After recurring visits to Wollaton Hall, she was repeatedly drawn to Entomology, particularly to the fragility of the aging beetles within the collection and by the possible stories that could be crafted from them. The body of work was made in several stages: Anna created the original models and their moulds, then a team of assistants made and glazed the individual elements. Some insects have a trickle of gold lustre, which references the traditional technique of presenting insects in museum collections by pinning each one to a board. This particular aspect has also fallen into the story, where the enchanted beetles bleed gold from their wounds.

The collection of ceramic insects has been installed in numerous places over the last five years, and Hunt also offers a “full scale infestation service” where tailor made swarms can be installed into almost any location. You can see more views of Stirring the Swarm on her website. (via Colossal Submissions)

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Macro Photographs of Nature’s Tiniest Architects by Nicky Bay 

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Bagworm moth larva (Psychidae), all images courtesy of Nicky Bay

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Bagworm moth larva (Psychidae)

Nicky Bay (previously here and here) is the master of capturing the exceptionally small, photographing insects typically passed over without acknowledgement or recognition. The Singapore-based photographer stays acutely aware of these tiny creatures, using macro photography to highlight each minuscule detail. While taking a closer look at the micro world found deep in the rainforest, Bay began to notice tiny structures built by his favorite subject. The bug buildings appear manmade—tiny log cabins, gates, tents, and fortresses blocking each insect from the world just beyond their carefully placed twigs and segments of silk.

My favorite microscopic discovery of Bay’s was the Bagworm moth larva’s twisting stack of twigs it builds to protect itself as it grows inside. These stacked structures are almost perfect in their symmetry, each side built with twigs that are equal in length and width. Another favorite is the Arctiinae moth pupa’s cage produced from caterpillar hair and silk, a semi-protective fortress that appears almost like chicken wire.

Ray has collected several other examples of these tiny architects, including a web tower and silk-covered tent which you can see over on his macro photography blog. You can also follow his day-to-day macro photography on Facebook.

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Bagworm moth larva (Psychidae)

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Web tower structure, image by Jeff Cremer

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Arctiine moth pupa (Cyana sp.)

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Arctiine moth pupa (Cyana sp.)

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Arctiine moth pupa (Cyana sp.)

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Arctiine moth pupa (Cyana sp.)

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Bagworm Moth

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Bagworm moth larva (Psychidae)

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A VW Beetle Spotted in the Insect Collection at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History 

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While walking through the Cleveland Museum of Natural History earlier this week, Redditor muppaphone spotted a toy VW Bug hidden amongst a collection of taxidermied beetles. Most likely the joke of a good-humored curator, commenters suggest museums frequently hide objects like this for observant patrons to discover. Love it. (via Laughing Squid)

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