Orbital Planes: A New Photography Book by Roland Miller Documents the Final Years of NASA's Shuttle Program
Fine art photographer Roland Miller (previously) has been documenting America’s space program for more than 30 years, obtaining exclusive access to the interior spaces of orbiters and rockets, as well as manufacturing, testing, and launch facilities around the United States. The Utah-based photographer has captured a singular vision of the space program with a hybrid of abstract and documentary imagery, from macro details of fabricated elements to spectacular shuttle launches at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
In his newest book Orbital Planes, Miller focuses entirely on the waning years of NASA’s shuttle program, a project he embarked on starting in 2008. More than just documentation of the machine’s construction or photographs of pivotal launches, though, his work is an artistic interpretation of the shuttle program in its entirety. Miller shares:
Along with the images in the book are my accounts of interactions with the Space Shuttle program and its personnel. I approached this subject in the a hybrid style of documentary and abstract imagery to tell a more complete story. […] Orbital Planes is the result of that photography work. My hope is that Orbital Planes will give the reader their own personal view of the Space Shuttle and the technology and facilities that helped it fly.
Orbital Planes will be published in 2022, and Miller is supporting the project with a Kickstarter that includes a variety of signed prints found in the book. You can follow more of his work on Instagram.
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Following his portraits of acrobatic birds performing a series of stunts, photographer Mark Harvey turns his focus to the larger, more powerful creatures of the avian species. The new collection, titled Raptors In Flight, centers on birds of prey and their graceful movements while on the hunt. Whether framing a barn owl diving to the ground or a harris hawk splaying its wings, each of the images highlights the raptors’ unique physical features, making the individual details of their feathers, curved beaks, and eyes visible.
Shot with his signature style that applies a hearty dose of drama to the already striking creatures, the photos are shot one at a time in a slow, medium format. “Lighting is a key aspect of my work to help draw out fresh views of well-known subjects, and these birds are no exception, set within an intricate lighting setup to ultimately show the birds in a new light,” Harvey shares. “With their wings spread wide, these top avian predators’ beauty is put on full display.”
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Captured in the marshlands of southern Denmark, Søren Solkær’s ongoing project documents one of nature’s most mesmerizing phenomena. BLACK SUN focuses on the quiet landscapes of the Danish photographer’s childhood where nearly one million starlings congregate during the vernal and autumnal seasons. Set at dusk, the photographs frame the migratory birds as they take to the sky in murmurations, amorphous groups that transform the individual creatures into a unified entity.
The fluctuating flight patterns swell above the horizon as the birds move from tree to tree or sometimes, in response to an impending threat. “Now and then, by the added drama of attacking birds of prey, the flock will unfold a breathtaking and veritable ballet of life or death,” Solkær says, further comparing their airborne appearance to inky sketches or calligraphy. He expands on the starlings’ adaptability:
At times the flock seems to possess the cohesive power of super fluids, changing shape in an endless flux: From geometric to organic, from solid to fluid, from matter to ethereal, from reality to dream—an exchange in which real-time ceases to exist and mythical time pervades. This is the moment I have attempted to capture—a fragment of eternity.
BLACK SUN culminates in a forthcoming book by the same name, which will be released November 16 and is available for pre-order in Solkær’s shop, along with prints and some of his other works. Follow the photographer on Instagram to keep up with his phenomenological projects.
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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)
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In late January in Salinas Grandes, Jujuy, Argentina, artist Tomás Saraceno (previously) launched a black air balloon powered only by the sun and air, forgoing lithium, helium, or fossil fuels. By absorbing ultraviolet rays to heat the air and allow it to raise, the balloon can hold 250 kilograms, or about two people. The project, titled “Fly with Aerocene Pacha,” became the world’s first sun-powered flight with a pilot and was exhibited as part of Connect, BTS, an arts initiative organized by the South Korean boy band. The global project has connected five cities with 22 artists who have helped fulfill the mission of redefining “the relationships between art and music, the material and immaterial, artists and their audiences, artists and artists, theory and practice.”
Breaking six records with the World Air Sports Federation, Aerocene Pacha eclipsed previous markers in altitude, distance, and duration for both men and women, thanks to pilot Leticia Marques. During its flight, it reached an altitude of 272.1 meters above ground and crossed 2.56 kilometers. The longest flight lasted an hour and 21 minutes.
In a statement, Saraceno added context to the project that falls at the intersection of art, culture, and environment, speaking to the abundance of lithium in the area that’s being mined for use in batteries. “This extractivist attitude is evidenced in the Salinas Grandes by the recent rush to mine lithium, furthering the man-made violence that incites climate change and mass extinction, the race to colonize space and disturbed balance of interconnected ecosystems,” he writes. The ballon prominently displays the phrase, “El agua y la vida valen más que el litio,” or “Water and life are worth more than lithium.” Activists from indigenous organizations attended the launch of the balloon, protesting the extraction process.
The Kirchner Cultural Center in Argentina is hosting a special exhibition, which includes video of the historic flights, devoted to Saraceno’s work through March 22. To see more of the artist’s ethically minded projects, check out his Instagram. (via Hyperallergic)
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Australian photographer Christian Spencer has lived within Brazil’s Itatiaia National Park for nineteen years. The lush natural surroundings offer a multitude of photo opportunities ranging from pumpkin toadlets to false coral snakes. One of Spencer’s most fascinating finds is the way that light diffracts through the wings of hummingbirds in flight, resulting in a rainbow of colors within the birds’ feathers. The photographer has been following the petite birds for years, and his film recording of the phenomenon was included in his award-winning 2011 short film, The Dance of Time.
More recently, Spencer has returned to these full spectrum moments. Each image in the artist’s hummingbird series captures sunlight filtering through the wings and tail of a black and white Jacobin hummingbird. Despite our age of post-production and photo manipulation, the images were not digitally manipulated; the visual phenomenon is naturally occurring.’WINGED PRISM’ (below) won a prize at the Museum of Modern Art in Resende RJ Brazil, and is available as a fine art print on Spencer’s website. You can follow along with Spencer’s animal encounters and nature-inspired paintings on Instagram. (via My Modern Met)
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