The urban architecture of Sofia, Bulgaria becomes an oversized Tetris game in a series by Mariyan Atanasov. To create the visual allusion, Atanasov abstracted the Eastern European city’s geometric buildings into minimal images, editing out distractions like phone wires and trees. In each photo sections of architecture seem to float down, ready to slot into the stack in the same mode as the classic 80’s video game created by Soviet Russian software engineer Alexey Pajitnov. Atanasov is based in Paris, Texas and shares his photography and design projects on Behance and Instagram, including many other minimalist architectural studies from around Europe. (via Trendland)
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Swedish artist Helene Schmitz focuses on the fascinating structural details of plants in her macro photographs. Throughout her long career, Schmitz has returned again and again to plants. By centering her subjects—dramatically unfurling blossoms and carnivorous plants—on matte backgrounds that complement the tones of the specimen, viewers are able to study the unique shapes and structures of each plant. Schmitz titles each work with the plant’s Latin name, heightening the aura of scientific precision in her portraits.
“The focus of my work as a visual artist is how human kind has examined, described, and exploited elements of the natural world,” Schmitz tells Colossal. Blow Up was inspired by German photographer Karl Blossfeldt’s plant portraits, and resulted in Schmitz’s first book of plant macro photography. The artist notes that her second series, Linnaeus Project, drew from Swedish botanist Carl Linnaeus’s pioneering work in creating order and categorization in the natural world, but also contributed to a pathway of modern exploitation of natural resources (Linnaeus also applied his hierarchical rankings, highly problematically, to humans). Schmitz’s showcase of the peculiar plants live on the edge of flora and fauna, Carnivores, was an assignment for National Geographic Magazine.
Helene Schmitz is represented by WILLAS Contemporary in Oslo, Galerie Maria Lund in Paris, and Turn Gallery in New York. See Schmitz’s work in person at Fotografiska, a photography-focused Swedish museum with locations in Stockholm and Tallinn, Estonia. The museum is opening its New York branch this winter.
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German photographer Tom Hegen, who specializes in aerial photography, recently traveled to the Netherlands to document the country’s LED greenhouses. The greenhouses were developed as a response to the small country’s growing need for food both within its own borders and to the international market. Dutch exporters are second only to the U.S. industry for global food exports as measured by value. Although the greenhouses offer incredible efficiency in their design, cultivating food year-round through high temperatures and humidity levels, their round-the-clock use also gives off a great deal of light pollution. Hegen flew in a helicopter at night to capture the yellow and purple glow that the greenhouses give off, their geometric planes of illumination standing out from the dark atmosphere.
The photographer tells Colossal that his work centers around the topic of the Anthropocene (the era of human influence on Earth’s biological, geological, and atmospheric processes). “In my photography, I explore the origin and scale of that idea in an effort to understand the dimensions of man’s intervention in natural spaces and to direct attention toward how humans can take responsibility.” Hegen explains that aerial photography in particular helps convey the Anthropocene because it shows the dimensions and scale of human impact more effectively.
“I am also fascinated by the abstraction that comes with the change of perspective; seeing something familiar from a new vantage point that you are not used to,” Hegen tells Colossal. “I use abstraction and aestheticization as a language to inspire people and also to offer the viewer a connection to the subject as they need to decode what they are looking at.”
In 2018 Hegen published his first aerial photo book, HABITAT, and next year he will start working on a follow-up, the artist shares with Colossal. Keep up with Hegen’s travels and latest projects on Instagram and Behance.
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Munich-based photographer Bernhard Lang (previously) recently shared aerial views of famous squares and landmarks throughout London, England. By presenting the metropolis from the sky, Lang offers a more dynamic look at the capital city’s unique geometric patterns and iconic architecture.
Lang produced the Aerial Views: London series from inside a helicopter during a trip to the United Kingdom in July 2019. Locations including Oxford Circus, Piccadilly Circus, and Trafalgar Square were chosen because they are “stored in our visual memory,” Lang tells Colossal. For the photographer, the unusual perspective of familiar sites reveals the atmosphere and charisma of the city in ways that can’t be seen from the ground. The flyover views of the city make it appear more like a detailed model of itself, complete with cars, double-deckers, boats, and tiny people frozen in places like figurines.
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Stunning Shots Take Top Prizes in the 2019 Natural History Museum Wildlife Photographer of the Year Contest
This week, London’s Natural History Museum announced the winners of its 55th Wildlife Photographer of the Year showcase. More than 48,000 amateur and professional photographers from 100 countries shared their best shots and a jury of nine experts selected the winners. Some of this year’s jurors included Kathy Moran, Senior Editor for Natural History at National Geographic Magazine; nature photographer Theo Bosboom; Melissa Dale, Acting Director of Photography at The Nature Conservancy; conservation photojournalist Paul Hilton; and writer and editor Rosamund ‘Roz’ Kidman Cox OBE, who chaired the committee.
The nineteen winners were selected across categories including animal behavior of mammals, birds, and invertebrates, along with animal portraits, plants and fungi, earth’s environment, and special categories for youth and emerging photographers. We’ve included 10 of our favorites here, including a golden eagle about to land by Audun Rikardsen, a life-or-death duel between a marmot and a fox by Yongqing Bao, and a hummingbird hawkmoth caught mid-sip by Thomas Easterbrook. To see more of the top finishers, check out our September coverage of this year’s finalists, and see the full show at the Natural History Museum in London now through May 31, 2020. Submissions for the 2020 competition open on October 21, 2019.
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Photographer Lakin Ogunbanwo creates colorful portraits of Nigerian women that are simultaneously majestic and dreamy. Set against gauzy draped backdrops, Ogunbanwo’s subjects are dressed for bridal ceremonies in vibrant lace bodices, sculptural headdresses, and embellished tulle veils. In a statement on the series, the artist describes his use of veiled portraiture “to document the complexity of his culture, and counteract the West’s monolithic narratives of Africa and women.” The series, titled e wá wo mi (“come look at me”), documents “the traditional ceremonial wear of the Yoruba, Igbo and Hausa-Fulani tribes, amongst others. Rather than objectively archive these as past-traditions, however, he mimics the pageantry of weddings in present Nigeria.”
e wá wo mi is currently on view at Niki Cryan Gallery, in tandem with another of Ogunbanwo’s series, Are We Good Enough. The exhibition runs from October 14 to November 3, 2019 in Lagos, Nigeria. The photographer’s work has also been featured in The New Yorker and The New York Times, as well as the Grid Photo Biennial in Cape Town, South Africa. See more of Ogunbanwo’s stylized portraiture on Instagram.
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Stark Photographs by Benjamin Dimmitt Show the Ecological Damage of Saltwater Encroachment in Florida’s Wetlands
An Unflinching Look, a documentary photo series by Benjamin Dimmitt, is set in Florida and focuses its gaze on rising sea levels. Dimmitt has been photographing in the Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge north of Tampa since 2004, after an initial visit more than 30 years ago.
“The dense palm hammocks and hardwood forests were festooned with ferns and orchids and the fresh water creeks were a clear azure,” Dimmitt tells Colossal. But, around 2011, saltwater began leaching into the creeks, due to rising sea levels and the state’s environmental decision-makers. Florida’s water commissioners allowed more fresh water to be drawn into large-scale inland developments and agricultural interests, leaving less for wetlands in the aquifers that feed these essential ecosystems.
“What had been verdant, semi-tropical forest is now mostly an open plain of grasses relieved by palms and dying hardwood trees,” Dimmitt explains. “In 2014, I began to photograph in the salt-damaged sawgrass savannas and spring creeks there as a way of reckoning with the ecosystem loss and of understanding what has become of my native Florida. I have narrowed my focus to a small, remote area that I know and love. My intention in bearing witness to this loss has been to portray the ruined landscape with respect, nuance and beauty.”
In order to create each photograph, Dimmitt canoes into the wetlands, stepping on to land to set up his tripod when possible, or shooting from his canoe if the water is too deep or land too soft. The selenium-toned gelatin silver prints are created with a medium format camera. Dimmitt grew up in a creative household, and his mother was an abstract painter. She gave the photographer his own camera at age 16, and her aesthetic continues to inform Dimmitt’s own practice to this day.
Because Dimmitt has been working in this region for so long, he is able to show the dramatic changes in the landscape over time, as salt-intolerant vegetation has been wiped out by the encroaching ocean water, as documented in the diptychs shown here. The artist tells Colossal that he has a very direct approach to photography, shooting from his eye and his heart. He sought to channel “a hammer in a velvet glove,” creating compelling images that would draw viewers into the larger issues at stake. As part of his artistic practice, Dimmitt also researched saltwater intrusion and spoke with scientists, activists, state water management officials, and locals to gain a full picture of the situation. For the photographer, the experience of documenting the changes in Chassahowitzka National Wildlife Refuge “has been painful and cathartic for me, evoking grief, anger and feelings of loss and mortality.”
An Unflinching Look is part of a current exhibition, “This is Climate Change,” now on view at Southeast Museum of Photography through October 26, 2019. Explore more of the photographer’s portfolio on his website and Instagram. You can also learn more about the buyouts that state governments in regions impacted by climate change are offering people to leave their homes in an incisive article on Bloomberg, and explore “ghost forests” all along the Eastern seaboard in the New York Times.
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Editor's Picks: Photography
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.