A Rare Glimpse of Comet Leonard’s Last Moments Wins the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Contest
The brilliant Comet Leonard put on a mesmerizing performance late last year when it streaked across the sky on Christmas Day. Expelled from the solar system shortly after, the celestial matter captivated photographers around the world during its brief stint of visibility, including Gerald Rhemann who captured the illuminated body as its gas tail disconnected from its nucleus and was swept away by solar wind. The incredibly rare and brief event also garnered Rhemann the top prize in this year’s Astronomy Photographer of the Year contest.
Hosted by the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the 14th-annual competition received more than 3,000 entries from 67 countries. This year’s collection includes a glowing, avian-like aurora over Murmansk Oblast and the International Space Station as it flies over the Apollo 11 moon-landing site—the latter was taken by Andrew McCarthy, whose galactic photos have been featured multiple times on Colossal.
Explore all of the winning images on the contest’s site, and if you’re in London, stop by the National Maritime Museum to see the photos in person through August 13, 2023.
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From a Volcanic Fissure to a Waterlily Harvest, the 2022 Drone Photo Awards Captures Earth’s Stunning Sights from Above
The annual Drone Photo Awards announced its 2022 winners earlier this month, releasing a remarkable collection of images that frame the world’s most alluring landscapes from a rarely-seen view. This year’s contest garnered submissions from 2,624 participants hailing from 116 countries, and the aerial photos capture a vast array of life on Earth, including a caravan of camel shadows crossing the Arabian Desert, a waterlily harvest in West Bengal, and the veiny trails of lava emerging from a fissure near Iceland’s Fagradalsfjall volcano.
Hosted by the Siena Awards Festival, the competition showcases its winning images in a recurring exhibition called Above Us Only Sky, which will run from October 1 to November 20 in the Italian city. Until then, see some of our favorites below and explore the full collection on the awards’ site.
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Photographer Zanele Muholi Finds Empowerment Through Bold Black-and-White Portraiture
The striking portraits of South African photographer and activist Zanele Muholi (previously) are easily recognizable. Shot in stark black-and-white, the images utilize heavy contrast and center on single subjects dressed in elaborate garments. These wearables are sculptural in construction and made from commonplace objects: clothespins are strung together as a necklace, dried grasses splay outward like the brim of a hat, and rolls of toilet paper cascade over a figure’s shoulders.
Muholi often works in self-portraiture and is known for photographing Black queer subjects as a way to explore the radical nature of identity and as a means of celebration and respect. “The work that I produce is meant to be for every person,” they say in an interview. “It could be a teacher. It could be a mother whose child is queer and wants to have a reference point to show their kids and say that you are not alone. And it could be for LGBTI people themselves to understand their worthiness.” Muholi views all of their works as collaborations with the sitters, who often gaze at the camera with direct, empowered expressions.
Many of the photos shown here are part of the group exhibition Dig Where You Stand, which is on view through October 9 at Savannah Centre for Contemporary Art in Tamale, Ghana. A project of African Artists’ Foundation, the group show engages with questions of decolonization and restitution and will travel to Lagos, Lusanga, and Lisbon in the coming months. Until then, find more from Muholi on Instagram.
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A Photo Series Captures the Ubiquity and Intrigue of Newsstands Around the Globe
No matter the city, there are certain fixtures that are universal among urban settings: corner stores, infrastructure for public transit, pockets of green space, and of course, newsstands, which are the subject of a compelling series by Los Angeles-based photographer Trevor Traynor.
Traynor began capturing the small kiosks back in 2012, when he snapped his first image with his iPhone 4S. During the next seven years, he visited 20 cities around the globe—the list includes New York, Jersey City, Los Angeles, London, Paris, Barcelona, Lima, Cusco, Punta Arenas, Venice, Milan, Rome, Naples, Pozzuoli, Jerusalem, Dar Es Salaam, Tokyo, Kamakura, Cairo, and Marrakesh—and photographed the ubiquitous stands and their operators. Taken from the same angle, the images highlight both the similarities in construction of each space and the periodicals, advertisements, and snacks that vary by location.
Having wrapped up the series with 100 images, Traynor plans to compile all the works in a book slated for release next year. Until then, view the entire series on his site, and follow him on Instagram for updates. (via Present&Correct)
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An Arctic Ptarmigan Takes Flight in the 2022 Bird Photographer of the Year Competition’s Winning Capture
During the summer months, ptarmigans sport plumage of gray, brown, and black with white bellies and wings. Breeding in the high mountains where winter brings snow, the birds naturally camouflage by turning completely white. Norwegian photographer Erlend Haarberg’s capture of one of the upland game birds taking flight in the dramatic mountains of Tysfjorden won the grand prize in the 2022 Bird Photographer of the Year competition.
The world’s largest bird photography competition welcomed more than 22,000 submissions this year. Award-winning entries document the incredible diversity, habitats, and rituals of avian life around the world, from an elaborate mating displays to the range of landscapes they inhabit. This year’s contest raised more than £5,000 for Birds on the Brink, a charity that provides grants to smaller organizations working on conservation efforts. The top photos, which are now compiled in a book available in the competition’s shop, highlight a range of behavior and environments, from the first moments of flight to the keen wit and strength of urban dwellers.
The 2023 competition is now open and accepting entries from global bird photographers of all ages, and you can find more information on its website.
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In Bold Self-Portraits, Atong Atem Vividly Frames Relationships Between Identity and Culture
Since its inception, photography has dominated the way we visually remember and describe the world around us and where we are within it. It has tapped into desire, joy, grief, and superstition, such as in the Victorian era, when some believed it could be a channel between people and spirits in the afterlife. In portraiture, photography immortalizes its subjects and has transformed artists’ ability to express themselves and tell stories. For Ethiopia-born, South Sudanese photographer Atong Atem, who is based in Melbourne, the medium enables a salient exploration of the African diaspora and migrant narratives by focusing on the relationship between figures and the interior spaces they inhabit.
Sometimes referred to as Naarm, Melbourne comprises the traditional lands of the Kulin Nation, itself a collective of five Aboriginal tribes. Paralleling her exploration of the nature of place, culture, and postcolonial narratives, Atem’s series of powerful self-portraits focus on how perceptions of identity are shaped through relationships between place, dress, and custom and the way they change over time or merge when people move. Occasionally referencing art history, such as “Blue Face” modeled after Dutch artist Johannes Vermeer’s “Girl with a Pearl Earring” (c. 1665), her works also nod to groundbreaking 20th century photographers Malick Sidibe, Philip Kwame Apagya, and Seydou Keita, who expanded traditions of studio portraiture. In a similar spirit, Atem explores intersections between place, people, and time to create a visual representation of the connection to culture.
This year, the artist’s first book of photographs, titled Surat (Sudanese Arabic for “snapshots”), was commissioned by Photo Australia. The second edition is due to be published by Perimeter next month, and you can find more of the artist’s work on her website and Instagram. (via ART RUBY)
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Editor's Picks: Photography
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.