While most people are satisfied with giving their pet goldfish some colorful gravel, a plastic plant, and maybe one of those bubbly treasure chests, the entrants to the International Aquatic Plants Layout Contest (IAPLC) have turned aquarium design into an artform. The massive tanks require years of preparation and are focused almost entirely on the aesthetic presentation of plants using only natural elements.
The art of aquascaping is still a fledgling endeavor, first started in the 90s by Japanese wildlife photographer Takashi Amano. The annual IAPLC competition has grown dramatically since, with the 2015 contest seeing 2,545 entries from 69 countries. Japan, China, Brazil, and France dominate the top finalist spots (only 13 entries were from the United States). Finalists were announced in September.
The scoring of each aquarium is based on a complex matrix of six criteria: the recreation of natural habitat for fish; the creator’s technical skills; the long-term maintenance of the habitat; the originality and impression of the layout; presentation of natural layout; and the overall composition and planting ‘balance’. Participants face severe penalties for reconfiguring elements from their own past entries, stealing ideas from others, and using plants that may not last long-term in the environment presented.
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The World Photography Organization just announced the shortlist for the 2015 Sony World Photography Awards. Creating a shortlist was no small feat. This year submissions swelled to a record 173,444 photographs from 171 countries. Shortlisted images will be on view at Somerset House in London from April 24th through May 10th, and Winners are announced April 23rd. You can see all shortlisted photos online in three categories: Professional, Open, and Youth.
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The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado, is famous for hosting celebrities, politicians and other notable figures over the last century, but perhaps no visitor was more significant than writer Stephen King, whose stay at the 140-room neo-Georgian hotel inspired him to write The Shining. While the movie adaptation wasn’t filmed at the Stanley, that hasn’t stopped the hotel from embracing their share of fame in association with the legendary book and 1980 horror film.
Now the Stanley plans to build a 61,500 square foot hedge maze, similar to the backdrop of the heart-pounding final moments in Kubrick’s adaptation. The maze will be built from 1,600 to 2,000 Alpine Currant hedge bushes, and the design will come from a (free) public contest. Anyone is invited to submit plans for the maze, they even have templates and detailed instructions about how to create your design. Submissions are open until January 31st, 2015. (via Neatorama)
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The World Photography Organization just announced the shortlist for the 2014 Sony World Photography Awards. This year’s contest received more than 140,000 entries from 166 countries. The judges will announce the final winners in March and April of this year, but for now here are a selection of highlights from the shortlist courtesy the World Photography Organization. (via Next Draft)
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Now in its second year, Brussels in Shorts is an international graphic short story competition that invites illustrators and artist from around the world to create a predominantly visual story set against contemporary Brussels. The winners this year were graphic artist Antonio Segura Donat (a.k.a. Dulk) and brother Carlos out of Valencia, Spain who created this superbly illustrated short story titled Zomeravonden (Summer Evenings) based on sketches made while visiting the city center. This book and nine others were on view at the Belgian Comic Strip Center back in February. You can see much more of Dulk’s work over on Facebook. (via Behance)
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Grand Prize / Photo and caption by Ashley Vincent/National Geographic Photo Contest. The subject’s name is Busaba, a well cared for Indochinese Tigress whose home is at Khao Kheow Open Zoo, Thailand. I had taken many portraits of Busaba previously and it was becoming more and more difficult to come up with an image that appeared any different to the others. Which is why I took to observing her more carefully during my visits in the hope of capturing something of a behavioural shot. The opportunity finally presented itself while watching Busaba enjoying her private pool then shaking herself dry. In all humility I have to say that Mother Nature smiled favourably on me that day!
First Place for People / Photo and caption by Micah Albert/National Geographic Photo Contest. At the end of the day women are allowed to pick through the dumpsite.
First Place for Places / Photo and caption by Nenad Saljic/National Geographic Photo Contest. The Matterhorn 4478m at full moon.
Honorable Mention / Photo and caption by关嘉城/National Geographic Photo Contest. Dragon boating is a chinese traditional entertainment. As an acquatic sport to memorise qu yuan, a patriotic poet in ancient china, it is usually held in festivals, which can be traced back to two thousands years ago.
Honorable Mention / Photo and caption by Eric Guth/National Geographic Photo Contest. Glacial ice washes ashore after calving off the Breiamerkurjˆkull glacier on Iceland’s eastern coast. During the waning light of summer this image was created over the course of a 4 minute exposure while the photographer backlit the grounded glacial ice with a headlamp for 2 of those 4 minutes.
Viewers’ Choice for People / Photo and caption by Kai-Otto Melau/National Geographic Photo Contest. A race that follows in the path of the famous explorer Roald Amundsen brings the contestants to the Hardangervidda Mountainplateu, Norway. 100km across the plateau, the exact same route Amundsen used to prepare for his South Pole expedition in 1911 is still used by explorers today. Amundsen did not manage to cross the plateau and had to turn back because of bad weather. He allegedly said that the attempt to cross Hardangervidda was just as dangerous and hard as the conquering of the South Pole. The group in the picture used the race as preparations for an attempt to cross Greenland.
Honorable Mention / Photo and caption by Micheal Eastman/National Geographic Photo Contest. With his exceptional hearing a red fox has targeted a mouse hidden under 2 feet of crusted snow. Springing high in the air he breaks through the crusted spring snow with his nose and his body is completely vertical as he grabs the mouse under the snow.
Honorable Mention / Photo and caption by ulrich lambert/National Geographic Photo Contest. Stilt fishing is a typical fishing technique only seen in Sri Lanka. The fishermen sit on a cross bar called a petta tied to a vertical pole planted into the coral reef. This long exposure shot shows how unstable their position is.
Viewers’ Choice / Photo and caption by Sanjeev Bhor/National Geographic Photo Contest. Everyday in mara starts with something new and different and day ends with memorable experiences with spectacular photographs. I was very lucky of sighting and photographing Malaika the name of female Cheetah and her cub. She is well known for its habit to jump on vehicles. She learned that from her mother Kike, and Kike from her mother Amber. Like her mother she is teaching lessons to her cub. Teaching lessons means addition of another moment for tourist. This is one of the tender moment between Malaika and her cub. I was very lucky to capture that moment.
Honrable Mention / Photo and caption by Fransisca Harlijanto/National Geographic Photo Contest. I was surrounded by thousands of fish that moved in synchrony because of the predation that was happening. It was an incredible experience.
The winners have been announced for the 2012 National Geographic Photo Contest which saw over 22,000 entries from 150 countries this year. The winners were selected by a panel of experts comprised of natural history photographer Christian Ziegler and documentary photographers Gerd Ludwig and Debbie Fleming Caffery. Three additional Viewers Choice awards were also given. Above are some of my favorites but you can see additional Honorable Mentions over on National Geographic. In a kind gesture National Geographic made all the winning photographs available as downloadable desktop images, as a fan of large numbers I’m personally going with Predation for a few weeks.
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Editor's Picks: Illustration
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.