This towering ginkgo tree is located within the walls of the Gu Guanyin Buddhist Temple in the Zhongnan Mountains in China. Every autumn the green leaves on the 1,400-year-old tree turn bright yellow and fall into a golden heap on the temple grounds drawing tourists from the surrounding area. You can see more photos here and here. (via F*ck Yeah Chinese Garden)
As a child, Danish artist Steffen Dam loved poring over his grandparents’ collection of scientific books and cabinets of insects. This fascination of how we catalogue and understand the natural world followed through to his artistic glass career, where Dam creates highly detailed “Cabinets of Curiosities” that mimic oceanic specimens suspended in glass jars and plates. The pieces are usually displayed inside light boxes to better illuminate every minute detail from the fragile tentacles of a jellyfish to a flourish of bubbles that seem to dance around many of his specimens.
A quote from David Revere McFadden’s essay Between Art and Nature, The Glass of Steffen Dam:
Steffen Dam invites the viewer to relish the sheer beauty of his “specimens,” but also to reflect on the meaning of nature as a mirror of the human mind and spirit. Dam has “captured” nature in his work, but he assiduously avoids simple imitation of life; the artist shies away from what he refers to as “cheap tricks in glass.” He seeks to strike a “balance between fiction and reality.” While his work is in no way intended to serve as pedagogic tools, as specimens in “cabinets of curiosities” often were, they are intended to engage the eye and stimulate the imagination. Knowledge about the forms, structures, surfaces, and colors of true natural specimens is not to be found in Dam’s displays of crystal cylinders, but another kind of knowledge—that of the visual poetry of endlessly varied forms—is freely offered. Dam’s little creatures, although frozen in glass, remind of how we read and feel both time and change.
Finnish-American photographer Arno Rafael Minkkinen has been capturing self-portraits of his nude body in natural surroundings for the better part of five decades. More than just existing in these scenic locations, Minkkinen fully merges his limbs and torso like a chameleon, blurring the lines between where the world ends and his body begins.
The methods used to create these bold and uninhibited shots pre-date the use of Photoshop by decades, instead relying on a simple 9-second shutter release that allows Minkkinen to quickly pose for each shot. He usually works completely alone, and won’t let anyone else look through his camera’s viewfinder, lest they instead be labeled ‘the photographer.’ What may appear as a simply composed photo with fortuitous timing, is often the result of Minkkinen taking dangerous risks as he submerges himself in strong currents, buries himself in ice, or balances precariously on the edge of a cliff. He shares from an article How to Work the Way I Work:
Many of my photographs are difficult to make. Some can even be dangerous. I do not want to have someone else coming in harm’s way taking the risks I need to take: to lean out off a cliff or stay underwater for the sake of my picture. We control how much pain we can tolerate; such information is unknowable by anyone else. Some of my pictures might look simple, but in reality they can test the limits of what a human body is capable of or willing to risk. Thus I title them self-portraits, so the viewer knows who is in the picture and who took it.
At the age of 70, Minkkinen was just awarded the 2015 Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship and is currently finishing work on his 8th book. The photographer opens his first-ever solo show in Chicago tomorrow evening at Catherine Edelman Gallery titled 7 8 9 0 1, featuring a range of both old and new portraits. You can see more from the exhibition here.
For the last several years, marine photographer Alexander Semenov (previously) has lead the divers team at Moscow State University’s White Sea Biological Station located just south of the Artic Circle. Semenov directs scientific dives in extremely cold and harsh conditions to document sea creatures seldom seen anywhere else on Earth. From giant jellyfish to the tiniest of unknown sea worms, the photographer captures almost all of the creatures you see here out in the wild, without the convenience of a laboratory or studio.
It’s estimated that nearly 80% of all aquatic life in the world’s oceans has yet to be studied or even discovered. In response to this potentially vast world of unknown lifeforms, coupled with Semenov’s unceasing interest in marine biology, an ambitious trek across the world’s oceans has been planned for 2016. The Aquatilis Expedition is a proposed journey that will take a team of divers, scientists, and videographers to locations around the globe for the purposes of identifying new species, an odyssey on par with the advertures of Jacques Cousteau.
Ten years ago, after a tsunami struck near Chennai, India, a camera repairman named Sekar noticed a pair of displaced green parakeets perched near his back porch. He immediately started to feed them with rice from his home, and the birds soon nested nearby and slowly—and then not so slowly—began to multiply.
The 62-year-old now cares for an estimated 4,000 birds that live near his home, spending almost 40% of his income on their care. He rises around 4am to start cooking giant pots of rice which he services twice daily on a latticework of boards on the roof of his home. This video from Aravind Kumar takes us into Sekar’s home to see what taking care of several thousand exotic birds looks like.
Ukrainian glass artist Nikita Drachuk of Glass Symphony creates all manner of glass spiders, octopi, and other critters by hand. He uses a method called lampworking, where a lamp or torch is used to melt rods of colored glass. Once in a molten state, the glass can be formed by blowing and shaping with various tools and small movements. You can see more of their delicate glass critters here.
The winners of the 2015 Wildlife Photographer of the Year have just been announced, and the top images depict an extreme gamut of beauty and ferocity found in the natural world. The grand title winner was ‘A Tale of Two Foxes' taken by photographer Don Gutoski in Wapusk National Park in Manitoba, Canada that captures an unusual deadly clash between between red and Arctic foxes. The two species aren’t known to prey on each other as they generally hunt and live in different climates, but as their habitats have gradually merged over the last few years, the two animals are now on an unexpected collision course.
Kathy Moran, senior editor for natural history projects at National Geographic and jury member, referred to the photo as “one of the strongest single storytelling photographs I have ever seen.” She continued, “the immediate impact of this photograph is that it appears as if the red fox is slipping out of its winter coat. What might simply be a straightforward interaction between predator and prey struck the jury as a stark example of climate change, with red foxes encroaching on Arctic fox territory.”
The winning photos seen here were selected from 42,000 entries from 96 countries, and will be exhibited at the Natural History Museum in London from October 16th, 2015, through April 10th, 2016. You can read the story behind each winning image in this gallery. (via PetaPixel)