The diverse taxonomic order of spiders is brimming with strange biological phenomena: black widows have been known to cannibalize their mates, tarantulas are covered in barbed urticating hairs that they fling in defense similar to porcupines, and others have evolved to mimic the shape and pheromones of an ant to avoid predators.
On a recent trip to a wooded area in Santa Claus, Indiana, photographer Kevin Wiener uncovered one of the latter species, the tutelina similis, and snapped a few macro shots of the 6-millimeter creature. Each of the striking photos catches the arthropod’s iridescent exoskeleton in a manner that highlights its rainbow luster and reveals its ant-like appearance. Similar gleaming color schemes are widespread in the world of insects, including on the microscopic scales that cover butterflies.
The radiant jumping spider is part of Wiener’s vast archive of insect images, which he shares on Instagram and in his online group called All Bugs Go to Kevin. He launched the resource in the spring of 2019 as a way to offer insight into the micro-world of insects, and it now boasts more than 42,000 members, including scientists, macro photographers, and other arthropod enthusiasts.
Currently based in Evansville, Indiana, Wiener fuses his background in both wedding photography and pest management into a practice that highlights striking and bizarre organisms. “I try to photograph my subjects in a way that gives the appearance of a personality which makes them appear less scary and helps those with fears to see them differently. I want to showcase the beauty of arthropods and show people the things they don’t see with the naked eye,” he tells Colossal. “Basically, if it’s little and moving, it’s probably gonna have a photoshoot.”
In addition to uncovering the diverse world of insects, Wiener also teaches an Indiana Master Naturalist course and has presented to the Entomological Society of America as part of a symposium. You can follow his work that falls at the intersection of science and photography on Instagram and Twitter.
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Candid Black-and-White Portraits Capture the Tender Bond Between Photographer Masahisa Fukase and His Cat
In what can simply be described as a love letter to his favorite companion, a series of black-and-white portraits are some of the more affectionate images in Masahisa Fukase’s vast body of work. The late Japanese photographer, who died in 2012 after living his last two decades in a coma following a tragic fall in 1992, is known for his portraiture and candid shots, including his groundbreaking collection spotlighting the wild lives of ravens. Largely focused on capturing the world around him, Fukase’s oeuvre also includes an array of photos of his beloved cat Sasuke.
Now compiled in a book published by Atelier EXB, 123 of the photographer’s portraits are a tender portrayal of the pair’s companionship. Although Fukase raised many cats throughout his lifetime, none played as important a role as Sasuke, the titular pet of the volume.
Fukase began photographing Susake in 1977, only after a heartbreaking rift. Just ten days after the photographer brought the cat home, he ran away. After pasting hundreds of missing posters around his neighborhood—these are recreated on the book’s cover—a woman called saying she had found a kitten matching the description in Harajuku and would bring it back. Unfortunately, it wasn’t the original Sasuke. “When I first set eyes on this cat that was not mine, I was disappointed,” Fukase said, “but as I’m a real cat lover and can’t resist them, I soon thought: ‘Come on, let’s pretend that it’s him,’ and that’s how I came to adopt Sasuke Two.”
Masahisa Fukase: Sasuke therefore features images of the second Sasuke, along with portraits of the cat he adopted later named Momoe. Because the pair traveled frequently with Fukase, they’re seen in both quiet moments at the photographer’s home and in public areas. Images include an array of feline antics, including shots of them scattering birds in a park, yawning, and even scaling a window.
Printed in English and French, Masahisa Fukase: Sasuke is available now from Atelier EXB, which also released two limited editions featuring collotype prints, and for pre-order from Bookshop. You also might enjoy Walter Chandoha’s massive volume dedicated to feline companionship.
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Lumpy, spotted, and exposed in succulent slices, the apples highlighted in a new book by William Mullan aren’t those you’d typically find in a grocery store. Instead, the Brooklyn-based photographer focuses on rare specimens like Pink Pearls, the aptly named Knobbed Russets, and speckled Black Oxfords that he sources from farmer’s markets or rural roadsides. These sometimes hard-to-find varieties are the subject matter of his portraits that spotlight the stunning, strange diversity of the species.
The humble fruit has a long history of religious and cultural significance and of course, is also a commodity, a characterization Mullan hopes to complicate by celebrating their unique beauty. “Due to their heterozygous nature, every apple tree that grows successfully from seed will be a brand new apple tree, with traits coming from the seed parent and the pollinator parent” (aka pollen from a nearby blossom). Combined with the fact that the species has 42,000 to 44,000 genes, which is nearly twice as many as people, thousands of different varieties have been produced, creating “a splendid array of aesthetic and flavor characteristics: from apples with red and pink flesh, to apples shaped like stars, candles, and toads, to apples that taste like licorice and strawberry shortcake,” Mullan shares.
Published by Hatje Cantz with design by Andrea Trabucco-Campos, the updated edition of Odd Apples contains 90 images and was designed to feel like “a walk through a magical orchard,” one that captures the breadth of the species. A few of Mullan’s favorites include the dry, sour-cherry flavor of the endangered Niedzwetzkyana or the otherworldly, neon flesh of the oblong Kandil Sinap. While some of his subjects were cultivated relatively recently, others, like the lemony, vitamin C-packed Calville Blanc D’Hiver, date back to the 1600s. “Some of the best apples are really like, right off the roads and highways, along farm fence lines and inside city parks,” he adds.
The Odd Apples project originally began in 2017, with a smaller 32-page book published in 2018, and Mullan continues to shoot all of the images in his apartment or the studio at Raaka Chocolate, where he works as the brand director. Focusing largely on the color and texture, the enchanting portraits are imbued with meaning beyond the fruit’s physical qualities, and each is paired with a written profile. “Their character would spark something in my head, usually a mood or something from pop culture,” he tells Colossal. “Every portrait is an attempt to really capture the mood, expression, and character of that apple but also my interpretation of that and therefore all the experiences I’ve had in my life, too.”
A special, limited edition of Odd Apples, which includes a Hidden Rose print, is for sale on the book’s site, and it’s also available for pre-order on Bookshop. You can follow Mullan’s fruit and flower-based photos on Instagram. (via Creative Boom)
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Through conceptual shots that focus on color and long lines, photographer and artist Dasha Pears emphasizes the chasm between inner and outer worlds. Her images celebrate myriad psychological states and phenomena sometimes deemed unsightly, capturing their beauty and inherent transcience with a surreal twist. Her focus on the minimal, she says, “is my way of expressing that controlling your mind and creating space is crucial for discovering who you are and who you are not.”
While many of the works deal broadly with inner tension, self-discovery, and perspective, others are grounded in Pears’s own experiences, like her ongoing series titled Synesthetic Letters. Through vibrant compositions, the photographer translates her understanding of synesthesia, a condition that can cause alphabetic characters and numbers to be conveyed as colors. Simple materials like lengths of fabric, tires, and bananas complete the perceptual scenarios, which Pears applies slight digital alterations to post-shoot.
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French photographer Thibaud Poirier continues his Sacred Spaces series by capturing the modern architecture of dozens of temples across Europe. Similar to earlier images, Poirier uses the same focal point of the front pulpit and pews in all of the photographs, allowing easy comparisons between the colors, motifs, and structural details of each location. “I selected these spaces for the use of original materials, modern for their time in sacred architecture, like steel, concrete, as well as large aluminum and glass panels,” he tells Colossal. Because travel has been limited due to COVID-19, Poirier has mostly visited 20th- and 21st-century churches in France, Germany, and the Netherlands for Sacred Spaces II, although he plans to expand his range in the coming months. Keep an eye out for those shots on Behance and Instagram.
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Within the vast collections of the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a trove of dried specimens that once were juicy seeds and fruits primed for reproduction. Now gnarled, fractured, and blanketed in tiny, dehydrated bristles, the individual pods have been preserved as part of the carpological archive at the Scottish institution, a resource photographer Levon Biss (previously) spent hours sifting through in preparation for a stunning new series of macro images.
Spanning from the rampant clusters of the Ko Phuang to endangered rarities like the Coco de Mer, the photographs reveal the inner details otherwise enclosed within the specimens’ shells. Texture and subtle color differences are the basis for most of the shots, which frame a cracked or sliced pod in a manner that centers on their unique components.
The botanic garden’s collection is global in scope and boasts about 100 individual pieces per species, meaning Biss sorted through hundreds of thousands to choose the final 117 that have culminated in his new book The Hidden Beauty of Seeds & Fruits. Initially culled based on aesthetics, the resulting selection encompasses all processes of seed dispersal, along with information about morphology, location, and history. “I tried to make sure all methods were included in the overall edit so that the work becomes an educational tool, not just pretty pictures,” Biss tells Colossal, further explaining the research process:
Each specimen is contained within a small box, and sometimes, you would find a handwritten note on a scrap of paper where the botanist provided a visual description of the surroundings where the specimen was found. Some of these specimens are over 100 years old, and reading these very personal notes made me wonder what the botanist had to go through to find that specimen. What were their traveling conditions like? What did they have to endure to bring the specimen back to Edinburgh? Reading these notes gave me a connection with the botanist and was certainly one of my personal highlights of the project.
On view in the same space as the original specimens, Biss’s photos are up at the Royal Botanic Gardens through October 31. The Hidden Beauty of Seeds & Fruits, which is published by Abrams, is available now on Bookshop, and you can find prints from the series on the photographer’s site. Keep up with his biological snapshots, which include a striking collection of iridescent beetles, on Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Photography
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