For the last month or so photographer Yume Cyan has been shooting some magical long exposure photographs of fireflies in a forested area around Nagoya City, Japan. By keeping the camera’s shutter open at a low aperture Cyan captures every bioluminescent flash of each insect resulting in dotted light trails that criss-cross the frame. You may remember a similar series of photographs also shot in Japan from back in 2011. You can see these a bit larger over on 500px.
In the terrifying wake of 2011 the Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, funerals become a commonplace ordeal as the nation dealt with unprecedented loss. Like most cultures, Japanese funerals are somber affairs punctuated with black and white with any deviation considered taboo or inappropriate. Reflecting on the enormity of recent events, funeral home Nishinihon Tenrei approached Tokyo-based ad agency I&S BBDO to create an ad for a trade show that would buck the trend of muted colors so prevalent in the industry. The agency responded with this unprecedented figure of a skeleton made with pressed flowers that overtly celebrates the cycle of life by introducing color and elements of nature that are often avoided in such services. The image was considered so successful it went on to win a design merit award from the 2013 One Club Awards. You can see it in even higher resolution here. (via spoon & tamago)
Photographer Martin Rietze recently traveled to Japan where he had the incredible opportunity (or near grave misfortune?) of photographing the Sakurajima Valcano in southern Kyushu as it spewed forth smoke, fire, and lava bombs. If that wasn’t enough the hellish volcano also caused a lightning show that lasted over 20 seconds giving the photographer ample time to
flee for his life take these stunning photographs. You can see many more images from the series right here. Of note, the photographer’s grit and fearlessness landed the top photo a feature on NASA’s Astronomy Picture of the Day earlier this week. (via spoon & tamago)
As cleanup continues two years after the deadly tsunami that struck Japan, a decision was made to preserve the memory of the miracle pine tree. The towering 88-foot tall pine tree was the last standing among a forest of 70,000 trees that were completely wiped out along the coast in Rikuzentakata, Iwate prefecture. The tree survived for nearly 18 months after the tsunami but eventually died due to high levels of saline introduced into its environment, after which is was felled and giant molds were created to again form the trunk and branches as they stood when the tree was alive. The monument is set to be unveiled this week.
According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration less than five percent of the world’s oceans have been explored, meaning that 95% of what lies deep underwater on Earth has yet to be seen by human eyes.
One person who has dedicated his life to uncovering the mysteries of the deep is Japanese photographer Yoji Ookata who obtained his scuba license at the age of 21 and has since spent the last 50 years exploring and documenting his discoveries off the coast of Japan. Recently while on a dive near Amami Oshima at the southern tip of the country, Ookata spotted something he had never encountered before: rippling geometric sand patterns nearly six feet in diameter almost 80 feet below sea level. He soon returned with colleagues and a television crew from the nature program NHK to document the origins what he dubbed the “mystery circle.”
Here is what they found.
Using underwater cameras the team discovered the artist is a small puffer fish only a few inches in length that swims tirelessly through the day and night to create these vast organic sculptures using the gesture of a single fin. Through careful observation the team found the circles serve a variety of crucial ecological functions, the most important of which is to attract mates. Apparently the female fish are attracted to the hills and valleys within the sand and traverse them carefully to discover the male fish where the pair eventually lay eggs at the circle’s center, the grooves later acting as a natural buffer to ocean currents that protect the delicate offspring. Scientists also learned that the more ridges contained within the sculpture resulted in a much greater likelihood of the fish pairing.
To learn more about the circles check out the full scoop over on Spoon and Tamago, and you can see two high resolution desktop photos courtesy of NHK here. If we’re still making discoveries this significant in 2012, it really makes you wonder what else is down there. Just 95% more to go.
As part of the recent Tokyo Hotaru Festival, 100,000 illuminated blue LEDs were released in the Sumida River. The massive installation of solar-powered spheres was meant to mimic a swarm of fireflies that twisted and bobbed along the river by moonlight. For those of you worried about pollution or safety, the lights were later caught downstream by giant nets. See much more over at Spoon & Tamago. (photos by jeremy v, makure, and ajpscs)
One of my favorite recent additions to the 200 or so photographers I keep up with on Flickr is the work of Kyoto-based Kiyoshi Ookawa who has been capturing these wonderfully intimate portraits of snow monkeys. The monkeys live in a sanctuary at the Jigokudani Monkey Park which is at an elevation of 850 meters (2,788 feet) meaning that the ground is covered in snow for a third of the year. The monkeys congregate at a hot springs in the facility and if you’re lucky you might even catch them on their live webcam (no monkeys at press time).
Taken in various locations around Maniwa and Okayama Prefecture in Japan between 2008-2011 this brilliant series of photographs captures the wild frenzy of gold fireflies as they mate after thunderstorms during the June to July rainy season. Shot using a slow shutter speed, the neon green and yellow contrails seem almost digitally imposed on the scenic landscapes, but I assure you these are real. See them a bit larger here. (via polaroid dreams)