Photography

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Photography

Lounging Seals, a Ravenous Pelican, and a Startled Owl Top Impressive Entries in Nature Photography Contest

April 1, 2020

Grace Ebert

Florian Ledoux’s “Above the Crabeater Seals,” taken in Antarctica with Phantom 4 Pro+. Aerial view of crabeater seals resting in a group on the ice after feeding at night. “The aerial view allow(s) us to better understand how the wildlife use the ice to rest and give birth,” Ledoux. Image © Nature TTL/Florian Ledoux

Replete with stunning shots of Tuscan farmland and close-ups with spiders that reveal their prickly legs, the Nature TTL Photographer of the Year competition garnered an impressive array of images from creatives in 117 countries. Out of the 7,000 entries, Florian Ledoux won the top prize in the annual contest with his aerial photograph capturing nearly two-dozen seals resting on an ice mass floating in Antarctic waters. Categories range from wildlife and landscape to macro, providing an expansive look at nature’s most impressive qualities and characters—Caitlin Henderson exposes a Lichen Huntsman spider that’s attempting to disguise itself on teal-speckled tree bark, while Paul Holman serendipitously captures a fluffy owl in the midst of a surprise. We’ve gathered some of the entries below, but for a complete look at all the Nature TTL winners, check out the contest’s site and Instagram. (via My Modern Met)

Robert Ferguson’s “I’m not going easy,” using Singapore using Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, 200-400mm f/4. “This is the Great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), struggling with a non-native fish. These wonderful birds are free to roam, but have established a large colony on one of the artificial islands in the old Jurong park in Singapore. I had set up my camera to take some portraits and watch their behaviour, and noticed one particular bird that had caught one of the big fish from the pond. I watched, intrigued, as the bird swam in circles, dipping his bill, taking water, then raising his beak to attempt to swallow his large prey. But every time the fish extended its sharp spines on its fins – you can see it hooked on the beak here – and lodged itself firmly. This went on for over 20 minutes, with no sign of either party tiring. I was fascinated to see the intricate veins in the bird’s throat pouch, as the overcast day backlit the thin skin, and I had to move and crouch low to the ground to get the shot,” said Ferguson. Image © Nature TTL/Robert Ferguson

Dipanjan Pal’s “Coexistence,” taken in Iceland using DJI Mavic Pro. “This is a scene very close to one of the popular mountains of Iceland. While flying my drone to the mountain with my drone’s camera pointed downward, I suddenly noticed this beautiful landscape with the blue river perfectly popping against the black sand. The sun peeking through the clouds added more drama to the scene,” said Pal. Image © Nature TTL/Dipanjan Pal

Paul Holman’s “Startled Owl,” taken in the U.K. using a Canon 7d II, Canon EF100-400 Mark II. “The baby little owl made an appearance within the window during a burst of early morning sun. A couple of jackdaws spooked by his presence started dive bombing him. After a few passes I noticed the jackdaw’s reflection in the adjacent windowpane and decided to try and capture this behaviour. The startled look on the little owl’s face adds a little humour to the image,” said Holman. Image © Nature TTL/Paul Holman

Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz’s “The Cradle of Life,” taken in Hungary using DJI FC300C. “Late winter in February, the soda lakes are full of life in Hungary. These lakes are the sanctuary of wide variety water birds. There is a nice, but unknown, hidden lake between the village of Tömörkény and Pálmonostora which is surrounded and covered with cane and sedge – therefore impossible to observe. I took this aerial photograph by a remotely controlled drone. I use a special technique to slowly approach the birds from very high altitude, which is a method also used by conservation experts to count the population of the birds. In the picture the wild ducks roil in the muddy water and leave lines in the yellowish-brownish, sometimes purple, water coloured by organic materials coming from decomposition of cane. The sparkling colour pallet of the image is composed by the blue sky and the white cloud reflection on the water’s surface,” said Koncz-Bisztricz. Image © Nature TTL/Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz

Jesslyn Saw’s “Home Sweet Home,” taken in Malaysia using Olympus EM5 mark II + 60mm f2.8 macro lens. “While on holiday at my family home in Malaysia, I set out to document as many different types of jumping spiders as possible in a fortnight. Battling the rain and heat and humidity of the tropics, the best time to hunt these spiders was early in the morning and late afternoon. It was on one of these late afternoon jaunts that I saw this colourful jumping spider and discovered a nest nearby. Hoping that the nest belonged to this particular spider, I came back again early the next morning to photograph it in its nest. To my delight, I saw that the nest did indeed belong to this spider. However, it took me another two days of early morning visits to finally successfully photograph the spider in its nest,” said Saw. Image © Nature TTL/Jesslyn Saw

Left: Minghui Yuan’s “Chinese Painting,” taken in China using NIKON D7000, Tamron 180mm/3.5 macro lens. “I was wearing a piece of waterproof overalls in the stream of Dabie Mountain, waiting to observe this Matrona basilaris (damselfly). Matrona basilaris is the king of the stream here. There is a male Matrona basilaris every 3 meters. They were waiting for the female to fly over its territory; the male chased away a male opponent and then stopped at the tip of the grass. Against the background of the sky, I discovered the connection between the lines of the grass and the subject. Nature itself is a simple painting,” said Yuan. Image © Nature TTL/Minghui Yuan. Right: Caitlin Henderson’s “Nothing here but this tree,” taken in Australia using Canon 7D, Canon 60mm macro lens. “The Lichen Huntsman (Pandercetes gracilis) is an incredible species of tree-dwelling spider from Australia’s tropical north. Its astounding camouflage enables it to blend perfectly with the tree bark and lichens, and is near impossible to spot by day.
At night, I went searching for these spiders with a torch, using their reflective eye-shine to discover their hiding places in plain sight,” said Henderson. Image © Nature TTL/Caitlin Henderson

Marek Biegalski’s “Shadow game,” taken in Italy using DJI Mavic Pro 2. “Aerial image taken in Tuscany in autumn light. (A) flock of sheep was hiding in the shade from the sun under the shadow of a tree,” said Beigalski. Image © Nature TTL/Marek Biegalski

 

 



Photography

Take an Eerie Walk Through the Empty Streets of Amsterdam, San Francisco, and New York City

March 31, 2020

Grace Ebert

With one-third of the world’s population currently under some level of quarantine, the streets of major cities like Amsterdam, New York City, and San Francisco are an unusual and unsettling sight. Film director and cinematographer Jean Counet, who shot “Meanwhile in Amsterdam,” shows the capital city almost entirely deserted. Public transit is empty and a four-minute walk reveals less than a dozen passersby.

Counet tells Colossal that “Meanwhile in Amsterdam” came together like any other film, except that “this time there was no director, and no plan,” he says. “We walked through the old city centre of Amsterdam between 8:30 (and) 13:30 which is normally teemed by walking people and bicycles. What we witnessed felt like a dream. Sometimes beautiful and mesmerizing, sometimes scary and worrying.”

In a similarly bizarre look at San Francisco, stop lights cycle from green to red with no cars passing through and businesses are boarded up. One with a psychedelic facade even has signs that read “We will survive” and “We will get by,” a hopeful gesture derived from the city’s musical legends that directly contrasts the nailed plywood covering the windows.

To see how the global pandemic is affecting public life in New York City and Rotterdam, check out the videos below. (via Kottke)

 

 



Photography

A Collage of Overlapping Videos Creates a Wild Rube Goldberg-esque Motion Sequence

March 30, 2020

Grace Ebert

Beginning with a man blowing his lips, an impressive compilation by Donato Sansone merges short clips of car crashes, fiery explosions, and punches thrown during a boxing match into a believable series of consequences. Ranging from nature to sports to destructive events, each seconds-long bit appears to lead right into the next in “Concatenation“—seemingly, a rocket launches straight into a pool ball that then causes a diver to jump into the water. A bullet impales a board, prompting two fiery masses in another section.

Head to Vimeo and Tumblr to check out more of Sansone’s sequence-based projects.

 

 



Craft Photography

Derrick Lin’s Dioramas Contrast the Bustle of Agency Life with Peaceful Office-Supply Scenes

March 24, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Derrick Lin, shared with permission

Seattle-based photographer Derrick Lin (previously) constructs miniature worlds that serve as a direct contrast to the stacks of books and other office staples like paperclips and pencils they’re surrounded by. Often showing life’s more relaxing and sublime moments, each scene is complete with tiny figures and their possessions as they pass along a sidewalk lined with cherry blossom trees, occupy a packed airport terminal, and sit on the floor of a messy living room. Because Lin assembles his little scenarios on his tabletop, some of his shots even feature a coffee mug in the background.

The photographer tells Colossal that in recent years, he’s started to consider the more subtle emotions of his daily reality “as a single working professional living in a major city.”

In addition to humor and whimsy, I started to pay more attention to topics around loneliness, mental health, and kindness. I strive to depict and spotlight on the kind of thoughts we typically reserve for ourselves. My photography loosely reflects what I personally experience and what I see around me. What continues to amaze me is the messages I receive from my followers about how my little project resonates with them and brings them joy and calmness.

To keep up with Lin’s office supply-based dioramas, follow him on Instagram, and check out the prints he has available on Society6.

 

 



Photography

Human Subjects Distorted by Nature in Double-Exposure Photographs by Christoffer Relander

March 19, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Miss Autumn.” All images © Christoffer Relander, shared with permission

During the first frost in the southern region of Finland, Christoffer Relander (previously) shot dense patches of branches, ferns, and blades of grass as part of a new set of double-exposure photographs. Titled We Are Nature Vol. 6, the monochromatic project merges human figures with nature to generate a portrait of a woman whose forehead is substituted with overflowing brush. Another image shows two kids whose features are obscured by leaves and vines.

The Finland-based photographer, who has a background in graphic design, tells Colossal that he decides how to pair each subject and natural element based on graphical compositions and forms. “The botanical textures are matched more after the overall mood. If it feels wrong, I will simply trust my gut,” he says.

Whereas many of his previous projects had been blended in-camera, Relander altered his method for this series thanks to extra time indoors due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “I decided, however, to still bring inspiration from both the multiple exposure film algorithms (negative film) and some basic darkroom techniques,” he writes.

When doing it in-camera, the manipulation is basically done instantly. Then while using external software (Photoshop) I get more flexibility and options. Not always for the better. I have ruined artworks by taking it too far. Doing it in-camera can feel really rewarding when done right. But the pressure can be tiring.

For more of Relander’s works that expertly blend themes of nature and humanity, head to Instagram or Behance.

“Blood tie”

“Butterfly mind”

“First frost”

“Frosted back”

“Guardian”

“Resting butterfly”

“Triplets”

 

 



Photography Science

Amazing Underwater Photographs Capture the World’s Only Known Pink Manta Ray

March 13, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Kristian Laine, shared with permission

Australia-based photographer Kristian Laine recently got a glimpse at a particularly special underwater creature: the world’s only known pink manta ray. Spanning about 11 feet and nicknamed Inspector Clouseau after The Pink Panther, the aquatic animal lives near Lady Elliot Island, which is part of the Great Barrier Reef. “I had no idea there were pink mantas in the world, so I was confused and thought my strobes were broken or doing something weird,” Laine told National Geographic.

Project Manta has been studying the male fish since he was discovered in 2015. After conducting a skin biopsy, the organization concluded that the unusual hue is not due to diet or disease but rather is likely a genetic mutation called erythrism, which causes changes in melanin expressions. Most manta rays are black, white, or a combination of the two.

For more of Laine’s underwater shots, follow him on Instagram or Facebook. You also can purchase one of his photographs of Inspector Clouseau and other ocean fish from his shop. (via My Modern Met)

 

 



Photography

Wearable Sculptures Blend Humans into Surrounding Landscapes in Photographs by Nordic Artists

March 9, 2020

Vanessa Ruiz

“Brit” (Norway 2018). All images © Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen, shared with permission

Norwegian-Finnish artist duo Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen bring a folklore-inspired vision to the relationship between humans and nature. The majority of their subjects are elders who often have a deeper connection to the lands they inhabit, work on, or cultivate.

In 2011, the pair started an imaginative series called Eyes as Big as Plates as a contemporary exploration of characters from Nordic folklore. Their photographic odyssey across 15 countries and creation of more than 100 portraits evolved into a general exploration of modern humans’ relationships to nature. The title of the series not only comes from a folktale but also represents the curiosity that guides the way Hjorth and Ikonen interact with the world.

Each photograph features a solitary figure in a landscape wearing a sculpture of the natural elements of their choosing. For example, Brit (above), a ceramic artist, is shown plastered to a rock with the blue clay that underlies much of her hometown in Norway. Bob (below), a retired fashion photography expert, wears a giant hat and coat of pine needles while sitting in Forest Park in Queens, New York.

Hjorth and Ikonen consider their subjects to be integral parts of their artistic practice, and in doing so, refer to them as collaborators rather than models. The two artists exude a natural, almost magical excitement for people and life. This is key to not only finding and connecting with the people in their photographs but also to convincing them to immerse themselves in the wonders of a landscape.

This ultimate harmony is the result of a long process of preparing for and setting up the photo shoot. Materials such as moss, bull kelp, puffball mushrooms, and millet must be gathered and assembled into what amounts to a wearable sculpture. The strangest materials they tell Colossal include “sea urchins and starfish. And there was the time we collected a whole load of Rhododendron tomentosum (marsh Labrador tea) while in the very north of Norway, luckily the intense smell made us look the plant up in more detail before engulfing our collaborator in its poisonous terpenes. Collecting wearable-sized-icebergs in Greenland was one of those moments that we both remember vividly also!”

On-site, Hjorth and Ikonen shoot with analog cameras on film. The process also can be long and challenging for the collaborator, who sometimes is wearing a delicate sculpture of itchy twigs or kneeling for hours in wet moss, not to mention dealing the variable conditions—wind, rain, sleet, and dense fog—that the environment throws at them day-to-day. The end result is a portrait of a subject who exudes a playful confidence as they are one with the landscape.

As for the future, the duo shares their vision with Colossal. “We are open to working with all curious souls and as we re-angle ourselves to looking at the effects of climate change and our role in it. The intergenerational movers and shakers exist in all demographics across ages!”

Hjorth and Ikonen currently are working on Eyes as Big as Plates Vol. 2, which they are attempting to fund via Kickstarter before March 15. Follow their fascinating journeys around the world on both Karoline’s and Riitta’s Instagrams and their growing project Eyes as Big as Plates.

“Karin” (Norway 2019)

“Bob II” (USA 2013)

“Pupi” (Finland 2012)

“Mane” (Senegal 2019)

“Jakob” (Greenland 2015)

“Astrid I” (Norway 2011)

“Halvar I” (Norway 2011)

“Niels” (Faroe Islands 2015)

“Arnold II” (Faroe Islands 2015)

“Edda” (Iceland 2013)