In his ongoing series titled Blend In: Making Home, artist Calvin Ma (previously) conveys an incessant need to belong through a quirky character camouflaging itself as different birds. From owls to pigeons to Mandarin ducks, the precisely hued costumes envelop the figure in a mass of feathers and scaled footwear. The artist textures the ceramic sculptures by hand, etching countless lines into every plume.
Each species represents an emotion or experience tied to social anxiety, which Ma bolsters with corresponding environments, like a birch cage or flower-lined nest. “Being shy, timid, and a bit socially awkward is something that will always be a part of me. The goal is to come to terms with it and grow from it,” the artist says of his own experience.
If you’re in Seattle, head to Foster/White Gallery where Ma’s anthropomorphic pieces are on view through November 21. To see the works-in-progress, check out the artist’s Instagram.
“In The Wind,” ceramic with glaze, 13 x 11 x 8 inches
“Break Free,” ceramic with glaze, 13 x 9 x 9 inches
Left: “Making Home,” ceramic with glaze, 17 x 12 x 9 inches. Right: “Out of the Woods,” ceramic with glaze, 11 x 6 x 6 inches
“First Step,” ceramic with glaze, 14 x 7 x 6 inches
“Hover,” ceramic with glaze, 14 x 10 x 8 inches
Left: “Nesting,” ceramic with glaze, 10 x 7 x 6 inches. Right: “Time And Again,” ceramic with glaze, 12 x 11 x 8 inches
“Fleeting,” ceramic with glaze, 16 x 29 x 8 inches
Prior to asking subjects to grin and “say cheese,” photographers would entreat those awaiting a portrait to “watch the birdie.” Now generally out of use, the phrase dates back to 1879 and references a technique to capture both kids’ and adults’ attention at just the right moment: Photographers would attach a little brass bird to the top of their lens—the 1950s film Watch the Birdie erroneously positions a songbird on the main character’s hat rather than his camera—and squeeze a pneumatic bulb, making the creature chirp and flap its wings as they snapped an image.
Austria-based Markus Hofstätter recently restored one of the historic gadgets, a process he demonstrates in a new video. He begins by degreasing the 140-year-old pieces, 3D printing a new base, and finally attaching the water-filled device to his wet plate camera. After removing the lens cap and blowing into a tube, he reveals the bird’s whistles.
For more tutorials and explorations into historic photography techniques, check out Hofstätter’s YouTube and Instagram. You also might enjoy these similarly chirping antique boxes that feature singing bird automata. (via PetaPixel)
From an Egyptian vulture with wispy feathers to a cockatoo with a vibrant fanned crest, Tim Flach’s expressive portraits convey the subtleties and bold features of birds around the globe. The London-based photographer (previously) focuses on endangered and vulnerable species throughout his work, which includes a range of animal portraiture. “I am also interested in the perceptual divide between sentient beings. There is a sense of awe and wonderment and there is always an uncertainty about what will reveal itself on set. I like to encourage thoughts about how we see each other,” he says in a statement.
Flach’s avian portraits, in particular, are shot to reveal human-like qualities, collapsing the differences between species. He compares the black-feathered head of the long-tailed broadbill to a fighter pilot’s helmet and the mustachioed Peruvian Inca tern to an iconic artist. “This for me, is the Salvador Dali of the bird world,” he writes on Instagram, noting that the longer mustache indicates a stronger immune system, making the bird more attractive as a mate.
To explore more of Flach’s striking photographs, check out the five books he’s published, in addition to his Instagram, where he shares his portraits and idiosyncratic details about the avian subjects.
Throughout lockdown in the United Kingdom, Mark Harvey, who is known for his striking equine and canine photography, shifted his focus to the avian creatures gliding above his home in the Norfolk Broads. Now part of a series titled In Flight, the exquisitely detailed shots frame common birds —including magpies, blue tits, starlings, goldfinches, great tits, coal tits, long-tailed tits, and green finches—in otherwise unseen poses: some splay out an entire wingspan, while others wrap their feathers around the front of their torsos.
Hearkening back to the methods of famed birdwatcher Victor Hasselblad, Harvey employed similar techniques to capture the dramatic shots. He used a slow, medium format with the same camera Hasselblad manufactured for the outdoor endeavor, taking just one image at a time.
Harvey just released limited edition prints of the In Flight series, which are available in a run of 15 per subject in his shop, and shares more of his striking horse and pup portraits on Instagram. (via Creative Boom)
The swaggering pigeon in Emmit Fenn’s new music video might upend the notion that peacocks are the proudest avians. Animated and directed by Patrick Jean, “Who Dat” opens on a quiet street corner before zooming in on the lone bird. As the bass drops, the pigeon begins a subtle strut down the street while it grooves to the beat. Soon, the bird reveals in its dancing skills after a shake of its tail feather. To see more of the Los Angeles-based director’s humorous animations, head to Vimeo.
Captured around the globe, the winning shots in the 2020 Close-Up Photographer Of The Year glimpse some of nature’s most fascinating details, from the organs inside a shimmering glass worm to slime molds bursting with fruit. Dr. Galice Hoarau, an evolutionary biologist living in Bodø, Norway, took the top prize for his image (shown below) of a serpentine eel larva spotted during a blackwater dive.
In its second year, the annual contest garnered more than 6,500 entries from 52 countries. Photojournalists Tracy and Dan Calder, a wife and husband duo based in the United Kingdom, launched the competition in 2018 to “encourage photographers to slow down, enjoy their craft, and make long-lasting connections with the world around them.” Explore some of Colossal’s favorite close-up, micro, and macro shots below, and dive into the top 100 images on CUPOTY’s site. (via Design You Trust)