On a November trip to the Arosa mountains in the Swiss Alps, Michael Schneider snapped a photo using his iPhone 11. The Zurich-based photographer and writer says the image he captured as the fog dissipated shows small ice crystals in the clouds, which break up the sunlight. The crystals’ insides reflect the sun, which is then broken again as it leaves the inside chamber, resulting in the halo of light.
Gizmodo’s Mika McKinnon elucidated the phenomenon when a similar shot was taken a few years ago.
Ice halos happen when tiny crystals of ice are suspended in the sky. The crystals can be high up in cirrus clouds, or closer to the ground as diamond dust or ice fog. Like raindrops scatter light into rainbows, the crystals of ice can reflect and refract light, acting as mirrors or prisms depending on the shape of the crystal and the incident angle of the light.
You can find an analysis by Mark McCaughrean of the atmospheric optics at work in the image below. Keep up with Schneider’s travel writing and the frozen landscapes he frequents on his Instagram. (via Kottke)
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Colored Micrographs Magnify Pollen Seeds, Plant Cells, and Leaf Structures in Photographs by Rob Kesseler
Using scanning electron microscopy and a mix of microscopic, scientific, digital, and manual processes, artist Rob Kesseler develops colored micrographs of the intricate patterns within pollen and seed grains, plant cells, and leaf structures. The highly magnified photographs feature specifics of cellular composition that are undetectable without magnification.
Kesseler tells Colossal that as a child, his father gifted him a microscope, marking a pivotal moment in his creative career. “What the microscope gave me was an unprecedented view of nature, a second vision,” he writes, “and awareness that there existed another world of forms, colours and patterns beyond what I could normally see.” The artist says his use of color is inspired by the time he spends researching and observing, and that just like nature, he employs it to attract attention.
Kesseler calls the intersection between art and science “a process and a product, a morphogenetic synthesis of two expansive cultures and a way of examining the world through a series of filters.” And he has hope for the relationship between the two disciplines, saying, “I like to think we are entering a new age where after a century of separation, artists and scientists are again working together, sharing ideas that reflect our age.”
Currently the chair of Arts, Design and Science at Central Saint Martins, Kesseler also is a fellow of the Linnean Society, the Royal Society of Arts and the Royal Microscopical Society. His most recent work includes a project with journalist Mathew Tucker of the BBC and a collaboration with Dr. Louise Hughes at Oxford Instruments. Both deal with the impacts of climate change on the plant world.
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Photographer Kristina Makeeva creates captivating scenes centered around Lake Baikal. The lake, located in Russia, is the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, holding nearly a quarter of the world’s fresh surface water. Makeeva takes advantage of its vastness in forming otherworldly images that seem totally separate from the built environments most of us reside in. “The first time I visited Baikal, I had no expectations, and yet what I saw and felt kept me awake for the three days I was there, Makeeva tells Colossal. “I was exploding with inspiration. Now, having traveled to many countries around the world, I still think of Baikal as one of the most beautiful places.”
Makeeva uses Lake Baikal as both the stage and the star in her striking photographs. Often, a single figure centered in the image poses in a manner that draws attention to the surprisingly vibrant colors, shapes, and textures in the frozen landscape. The photographer frequently outfits her models in ruffled tulle dresses with impossibly long trains or minimalist white suits that call to mind astronauts or acrobats. Makeeva explains that depending on the shoot, she either brings models from Moscow or hires local models to work on location, or the models are integrated into the frigid landscape in post-production if their costumes are tricky to travel with.
The artist explains that after a childhood in Moscow’s “grey and boring suburbs”, she is eager to incorporate the magical energy of fairy tales and fantasy into her photographs. “As I travel and read more, I’ve been able to add an element of cultural understanding and context to some of my favorite fairy tales,” says Makeeva.
I always have a movie playing in my head. As a photographer, you still need to do your homework if you want to create something unique in that location. So I immerse myself into history, landscape, and pictures. It’s important to have a special inventory list. As weather conditions play a major role in shoots, we will often order special clothes and dresses that fit with the landscape. We envision and look at several dresses in advance of a shoot. And, of course, we also buy thermal clothes for the model so that she’s as comfortable as possible in the climate.
In reflecting on the end results of her meticulously researched work as an artist, Makeeva tells Colossal, “How I feel about my art and how others feel is often very different. This is natural because our experience of art depends on our life experiences. As a rule, I try not to title my photos, so that everyone is free to interpret my photography however they’d like.”
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Photographer Mikko Lagerstedt (previously) has once again captured the quiet beauty of his native Finland with a recent series centered around trees. Ethereal skies, virgin snow, and seemingly isolated pockets of nature serve as backdrops to twisted trunks and outstretched branches. Taken from Lapland to Southern Finland, the images speak to qualities of beauty and of resilience.
Lagerstedt was first inspired to capture these dreamy landscapes when he witnessed one first-hand while en route to a relative’s cabin. His images often showcase nature with little to no sunlight which gives them a sense of calm and stillness. The t r e e s series is comprised of photographs taken between 2018 and 2019 and edited using Photoshop and Lightroom. “My goal is to convey the feeling I had when I was photographing the subjects…to appreciate the never-ending beauty of trees,” Lagerstedt tells Colossal. “In our lives, we rarely recognize them, yet trees surround us with their beauty. They tell us many stories about life and the struggle to survive in harsh conditions.”
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Abandoned vehicles are swallowed by the surrounding forest in “Nature Takes Over,” a photo series by Thomas Strogalski. The German photographer, normally based in Düsseldorf, was on assignment in Maui, Hawaii for a client and found some spare time to pursue this personal project. “During my 5-week stay, I discovered striking irregularities within the lush, fascinating nature,” Strogalski tells Colossal. Old automobiles, from sedans and trucks to camper vans and R.V.s, the once-powerful machines have been subsumed beneath towering trees and twisting vines. “I am fascinated by the thought that in the end nature will take over man,” reflects Strogalski. “With peace, lasting continuity, flexibility in harmony with permanent adaptation, nature seems to reclaim what one wants to take away from it.” Explore more of the photographer’s professional and personal work on Behance and Instagram.
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London-based photographer Tim Flach travels the world capturing the nuanced expressions, unique patterning, and unusual profiles of animals large and small. Often focusing his lens on endangered and vulnerable species, Flach highlights the traits of animals that are at risk of disappearing due to habitat loss, climate change, and human activity. The photographer has worked with a huge range of wild, domestic, and captive animals, from Saiga and Beluga Sturgeons to Pied Tamarin and Pangolin.
Set on plain backdrops à la studio portraits, Flach’s bird photographs particularly stand out. His sharp, clear portraits show the colorful and wildly shaped feathers and beak of birds from the U.S. to the Himalayas. A stately Jacobian Pigeon, its two-toned ruff of feathers framing a white-crested face, seems to peer elegantly at the view, while an assertive cardinal stares pointedly, a white highlight glinting off the hook in the bird’s red beak. A statement on his website explains the relatable emotional quality of his work:
Tim Flach is an animal photographer with an interest in the way humans shape animals and shape their meaning while exploring the role of imagery in fostering an emotional connection. Bringing to life the complexity of the animal kingdom, his work ranges widely across species, united by a distinctive stylization reflecting an interest in how we better connect people to the natural world.
Flach has published several books of his photography: one is centered around endangered animals, while others are species-specific, celebrating horses or dogs. You can explore the artist’s catalog as well as several galleries of animal portraits on his website, and follow him on Instagram for first glimpses of new work.
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Rachel Lopez has a thing with… taxi ceilings. Instead of joining the 200,000+ Instagram posts hashtagged #ihavethisthingwithfloors, the lifelong Mumbai resident flips her phone’s camera into selfie mode. Lopez documents the vast array of eccentric plastic patterns covering the ceilings of her hailed rides, many of them taken in her frequent trips around the city as a journalist with the Hindustan Times.
Mumbai is home to about 58,000 metered taxis, and each one seems to feature a totally different interior aesthetic. Though many of the cars themselves are the same model, drivers often line the ceiling with colorful patterned plastic or vinyl to protect the easily-stained felt fabric. She prefers the traditional taxis to the newer influx of startup ride shares, despite the unpredictability of independent operators, who may decline a trip depending on the destination. Since April 2017, Lopez has been collecting consistently framed photos to track the diversity of designs she encounters.
“I live for the day a driver shows interest in my collection. Most of them, when I compliment them, merely grunt in acknowledgement,” Lopez tells Colossal. “They’re determinedly uninterested, for some reason. But a few of them will indulgently smile and get on with the ride. In Mumbai, if you’re a solo woman commuter, the driver is much more interested in whether you’re married, Indian politics, and how much money a journalist makes.”
As she continues her to add to her simple yet infinite collection, Lopez has enjoyed connecting with others. She displayed one hundred of her photos this February at Kala Ghoda Festival, which is Asia’s largest street festival for the arts. “I was keen to show on the street, not in a sanitized gallery, so everyday crowds could appreciate them,” says Lopez. “The response was overwhelming! The sheer diversity and number of designs are a surprise even to lifelong Mumbai residents (even I’m shocked that I still find new ones two years into the project). It’s one of the most gratifying outcomes of the series—being able to share with my beloved city the pictures I’d been quietly taking.”
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Editor's Picks: Photography
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