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Food Photography Science

Striking Macro Photos by Levon Biss Crack Open Dried Seeds to Reveal Their Gnarly Insides

August 24, 2021

Grace Ebert

Coco de Mer. All images © Levon Biss, shared with permission

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.

 

Kurrajong

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.

 

Ko Phuang

Left: Firewood Banksia. Right: Dutchman’s Pipe

Bofiyu

Field Manioc

Left: Rosary Pea. Right: Sandplain Woody Pear

Candlestick Banksia

 

 



Photography Science

A Dive 2,300 Feet into the Atlantic Ocean Uncovers a New Bright Red Jellyfish Species

August 12, 2021

Grace Ebert

This beautiful red jellyfish in the genus Poralia may be an undescribed species. It was seen during the third transect of Dive 20 of the 2021 North Atlantic Stepping Stones expedition, at a depth of 700 meters (2,297 feet). Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration, 2021 North Atlantic Stepping Stones: New England and Corner Rise Seamounts

Considering eighty percent of the earth’s oceans have yet to be explored, it’s not surprising that their mysterious depths continue to turn up new discoveries. A July 2021 expedition into the Hydrographer Canyon off the New England coast was no exception when a team from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) stumbled upon a striking red jellyfish. Spotted at 2,297 feet, the pulsing creature is presumed part of the genus Poralia, which until now, was comprised of a single species.

Scientists say the unfamiliar marine animal appears to have more tentacles than the Poralia rufescens, meaning that it’s likely an entirely new species yet to be classified. “The jellyfish also seemed to have nematocyst warts on the exumbrella (the upper part or outside of the jellyfish’s bell) that probably function both for defense but also to trap prey. The radial canals of this genus often branch randomly, which is not usual for other related jellyfish,” the NOAA said in a statement.

Using the remote-operated Deep Discoverer, the team spotted the creature in the mesopelagic zone—this area, which spans 656 to 3,281 feet, is also referred to as the twilight zone because it’s the last region sunlight can reach before giving way to total darkness—of the Atlantic Ocean around the Gulf Stream. The vehicle is equipped with 20 LED lights that illuminate the ocean depths and allow for high-definition footage like the rare video shown below.

See more discoveries from this dive, which spotted at least 650 creatures, in addition to previous expeditions on the NOAA site, YouTube, and Instagram. (via PetaPixel)

 

A total of four samples were collected during Dive 20 of the 2021 North Atlantic Stepping Stones expedition using the suction sample on remotely operated vehicle (ROV) Deep Discoverer. Here, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration ROV pilots deftly maneuver to collect a potential new species of jellyfish during the 1200-meter (3,937-foot) dive transect. Image courtesy of NOAA Ocean Exploration, 2021 North Atlantic Stepping Stones: New England and Corner Rise Seamounts

 

 



Photography Science

Spectacular Footage Records Seven Moths as They Take Flight in Stunningly Slow Motion

August 4, 2021

Grace Ebert

Almost a year after releasing his wildly popular footage of muppet-like insects, Dr. Adrian Smith is back with another montage in incredibly slow motion. This similarly spectacular follow-up—which is shot at 6,000 frames per second with a macro lens—documents the unique flight maneuvers of seven moth species as they slowly lift into the air. Capturing both graceful wing movements and ungainly leg flailing, Smith records rare glimpses of the yellow underbelly of the Virginian tiger moth, the spiky mohawk of the white-dotted prominent, and the beautiful wood-nymph’s habit of scattering microscopic scales all with extraordinary detail. For more close-ups of moths, beetles, and other insects, head to Smith’s YouTube. (via The Kids Should See This)

 

 

 



Photography Science

Brilliant Solar Flares and the Northern Lights Appear in the Astronomy Photographer of the Year Shortlist

August 2, 2021

Grace Ebert

“The Magnetic Field of our Active Sun” by Andrew McCarthy. All images courtesy of Royal Museums Greenwich, shared with permission

A trippy shot of the psychedelic California Nebula, a panorama of the Milky Way sprawling above French lavender crops, and a phenomenal glimpse of the sun’s magnetic field bursting after a solar flare are a few of the stellar images on the 2021 Astronomy Photographer of the Year shortlist. Hosted by Royal Museums Greenwich for the past 13 years, the annual contest garnered more than 4,5000 images of the green lights of the Aurora, distant nebula, and other galactic sights from entrants in 75 countries. The winner will be announced on September 16 prior to the National Maritime Museum’s exhibition of the works opening on September 18. You can see more of the top photos on the contest site. (via Kottke)

 

“Harmony” by Stefan Liebermann

“Iceland Vortex” by Larryn Rae

“Alien Throne” by Marcin Zajac

“California Dreamin’ NGC 1499” by Terry Hancock

“Milky Way rising over Durdle Door” by Anthony Sullivan

“Break of a New Day” by Nicholas Roemmelt

 

 



Science

A Scorpion and Her Babies Emit a Fluorescent Blue and Purple Glow Under UV Light

July 26, 2021

Grace Ebert

Artist Sarah Folts explores the vast world of insects and arachnids, and she recently captured extraordinary footage of an unusual phenomenon. Under UV light, a scorpion and the babies cradled on her back radiate a bright blue and purple glow caused by proteins in the pincered creatures’ exoskeletons—the younger predators will stay in this position until their shells adequately harden. Scientists are unsure what the evolutionary purpose of the fluorescent color is, although theories include an inadvertent chemical reaction, a tactic for deceiving prey, and the novel idea that their entire bodies function as giant eyes. (via Laughing Squid)

 

 

 



Science

A Rare Sighting of a Glass Octopus Reveals its Nearly Transparent Membrane in Extraordinary Detail

July 16, 2021

Grace Ebert

On a 34-day expedition around the Phoenix Islands Archipelago, marine scientists from the Schmidt Ocean Institute captured exceptionally rare footage of the elusive glass octopus. With a speckled, iridescent membrane, the aquatic animal is almost entirely transparent—only its optic nerve, eyes, and digestive tract are visible to humans—and sightings like these are so infrequent that scientists previously resorted to studying the species only after pulling it from the stomachs of its predators.

Along with successfully capturing this footage, the research team also identified new marine organisms and recorded the sought-after whale shark swimming through the Pacific Ocean during the expedition. For similar underwater reveals, check out a blanket octopus unveiling her membrane.