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Photography

Lounging Seals, a Ravenous Pelican, and a Startled Owl Top Impressive Entries in Nature Photography Contest

April 1, 2020

Grace Ebert

Florian Ledoux’s “Above the Crabeater Seals,” taken in Antarctica with Phantom 4 Pro+. Aerial view of crabeater seals resting in a group on the ice after feeding at night. “The aerial view allow(s) us to better understand how the wildlife use the ice to rest and give birth,” Ledoux. Image © Nature TTL/Florian Ledoux

Replete with stunning shots of Tuscan farmland and close-ups with spiders that reveal their prickly legs, the Nature TTL Photographer of the Year competition garnered an impressive array of images from creatives in 117 countries. Out of the 7,000 entries, Florian Ledoux won the top prize in the annual contest with his aerial photograph capturing nearly two-dozen seals resting on an ice mass floating in Antarctic waters. Categories range from wildlife and landscape to macro, providing an expansive look at nature’s most impressive qualities and characters—Caitlin Henderson exposes a Lichen Huntsman spider that’s attempting to disguise itself on teal-speckled tree bark, while Paul Holman serendipitously captures a fluffy owl in the midst of a surprise. We’ve gathered some of the entries below, but for a complete look at all the Nature TTL winners, check out the contest’s site and Instagram. (via My Modern Met)

Robert Ferguson’s “I’m not going easy,” using Singapore using Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, 200-400mm f/4. “This is the Great white pelican (Pelecanus onocrotalus), struggling with a non-native fish. These wonderful birds are free to roam, but have established a large colony on one of the artificial islands in the old Jurong park in Singapore. I had set up my camera to take some portraits and watch their behaviour, and noticed one particular bird that had caught one of the big fish from the pond. I watched, intrigued, as the bird swam in circles, dipping his bill, taking water, then raising his beak to attempt to swallow his large prey. But every time the fish extended its sharp spines on its fins – you can see it hooked on the beak here – and lodged itself firmly. This went on for over 20 minutes, with no sign of either party tiring. I was fascinated to see the intricate veins in the bird’s throat pouch, as the overcast day backlit the thin skin, and I had to move and crouch low to the ground to get the shot,” said Ferguson. Image © Nature TTL/Robert Ferguson

Dipanjan Pal’s “Coexistence,” taken in Iceland using DJI Mavic Pro. “This is a scene very close to one of the popular mountains of Iceland. While flying my drone to the mountain with my drone’s camera pointed downward, I suddenly noticed this beautiful landscape with the blue river perfectly popping against the black sand. The sun peeking through the clouds added more drama to the scene,” said Pal. Image © Nature TTL/Dipanjan Pal

Paul Holman’s “Startled Owl,” taken in the U.K. using a Canon 7d II, Canon EF100-400 Mark II. “The baby little owl made an appearance within the window during a burst of early morning sun. A couple of jackdaws spooked by his presence started dive bombing him. After a few passes I noticed the jackdaw’s reflection in the adjacent windowpane and decided to try and capture this behaviour. The startled look on the little owl’s face adds a little humour to the image,” said Holman. Image © Nature TTL/Paul Holman

Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz’s “The Cradle of Life,” taken in Hungary using DJI FC300C. “Late winter in February, the soda lakes are full of life in Hungary. These lakes are the sanctuary of wide variety water birds. There is a nice, but unknown, hidden lake between the village of Tömörkény and Pálmonostora which is surrounded and covered with cane and sedge – therefore impossible to observe. I took this aerial photograph by a remotely controlled drone. I use a special technique to slowly approach the birds from very high altitude, which is a method also used by conservation experts to count the population of the birds. In the picture the wild ducks roil in the muddy water and leave lines in the yellowish-brownish, sometimes purple, water coloured by organic materials coming from decomposition of cane. The sparkling colour pallet of the image is composed by the blue sky and the white cloud reflection on the water’s surface,” said Koncz-Bisztricz. Image © Nature TTL/Tamás Koncz-Bisztricz

Jesslyn Saw’s “Home Sweet Home,” taken in Malaysia using Olympus EM5 mark II + 60mm f2.8 macro lens. “While on holiday at my family home in Malaysia, I set out to document as many different types of jumping spiders as possible in a fortnight. Battling the rain and heat and humidity of the tropics, the best time to hunt these spiders was early in the morning and late afternoon. It was on one of these late afternoon jaunts that I saw this colourful jumping spider and discovered a nest nearby. Hoping that the nest belonged to this particular spider, I came back again early the next morning to photograph it in its nest. To my delight, I saw that the nest did indeed belong to this spider. However, it took me another two days of early morning visits to finally successfully photograph the spider in its nest,” said Saw. Image © Nature TTL/Jesslyn Saw

Left: Minghui Yuan’s “Chinese Painting,” taken in China using NIKON D7000, Tamron 180mm/3.5 macro lens. “I was wearing a piece of waterproof overalls in the stream of Dabie Mountain, waiting to observe this Matrona basilaris (damselfly). Matrona basilaris is the king of the stream here. There is a male Matrona basilaris every 3 meters. They were waiting for the female to fly over its territory; the male chased away a male opponent and then stopped at the tip of the grass. Against the background of the sky, I discovered the connection between the lines of the grass and the subject. Nature itself is a simple painting,” said Yuan. Image © Nature TTL/Minghui Yuan. Right: Caitlin Henderson’s “Nothing here but this tree,” taken in Australia using Canon 7D, Canon 60mm macro lens. “The Lichen Huntsman (Pandercetes gracilis) is an incredible species of tree-dwelling spider from Australia’s tropical north. Its astounding camouflage enables it to blend perfectly with the tree bark and lichens, and is near impossible to spot by day.
At night, I went searching for these spiders with a torch, using their reflective eye-shine to discover their hiding places in plain sight,” said Henderson. Image © Nature TTL/Caitlin Henderson

Marek Biegalski’s “Shadow game,” taken in Italy using DJI Mavic Pro 2. “Aerial image taken in Tuscany in autumn light. (A) flock of sheep was hiding in the shade from the sun under the shadow of a tree,” said Beigalski. Image © Nature TTL/Marek Biegalski

 

 



Craft

Magical Butterflies and Insects Stitched in Dense Thread Paintings by Emillie Ferris

March 18, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Emillie Ferris, shared with permission

Since she first began embroidering in 2013, Emillie Ferris (previously) has stitched a few rows nearly every day. The United Kingdom-based artist creates dense thread paintings of butterflies, bees, and other creatures surrounded by vibrant, scattered florals. Her lengthy stitches form precisely colored patterns and rows, offering a distinct texture to each wing and antennae.

Ferris tells Colossal that much of her work is based on vintage entomology illustrations, which she reviews multiple times before beginning one of her realistic projects that are “inspired by nature, with a tiny sense of magic.”

I love to try and emulate a sense of romanticism in my embroideries. I like to study numerous references of the object I want to embroider. For example, I must have saved hundreds of reference photos and watched many videos of the blue morpho butterfly, before digitally painting the butterfly in photoshop, then transferring the pattern to fabric and bringing the butterfly to life with so many shades of blue thread. I couldn’t count them.

A few years ago, the artist also designed digital thread-painting tutorials that are available on Etsy. You can find more of her enchantingly stitched projects on Instagram.

 

 

 



Art Illustration

Floral-and-Frond Compositions Shape Energetic Wildlife by Raku Inoue

March 2, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Whale” (2020). All images © Raku Inoue

Known for his botanical arrangements of beetles, insects, and butterflies, Raku Inoue once again is bringing flora and fauna together. His previous work often positions the animals in stationary poses, resembling a portrait of an owl or a scorpion pinned inside a glass case as part of a collection. The latest pieces in his Natura Wildlife series, though, indicate a liveliness and inclination for movement, from a whale blasting orange flowers from its blowhole to a seahorse grasping a Q-tip.

In an Instagram post, the Montreal-based creative even said he modeled his pink-hued flamingo after Flamingo Bob, the Caribbean bird who was disabled after flying into a hotel window. The artist crafted multiple depictions of the animal as he stares, swims, and mingles with friends, in between his duties as an ambassador for the FDOC, a foundation dedicated to educating locals about wildlife protection. “I thought I would make these images honoring him and his future legacies,” Inoue wrote.

“Staring Bob” (2020)

“Jellyfish” (2020)

“Mingling Bob” (2020)

 

 



Science

‘Evolution’ Captures Every Microscopic Detail of Insect and Plant Life as It Unfolds

February 7, 2020

Grace Ebert

Evolution,” directed by French video artist Thomas Blanchard (previously), offers an otherwise undetectable look at the minute movements of natural life. The macro-view project shows the first signs of flowers blossoming, in addition to glimpses of dozens of insect legs scurrying across a crumbling surface and of other bugs bating and catching their prey. Utilizing an array of deeply saturated light sources, Blanchard illuminates vibrant florals as they spread open and insects with glossy bodies, adding artistic nuance to an accurate depiction of nature’s cycles.

Aedan, who produced the time-lapsed video, calls it “an exercise in patience and observation that the master of macro, here (the) director, masters to perfection… The result is a striking spectacle where you can observe life with a new eye.” It was filmed in 8K with a RED Helium camera, using both a Canon 100 millimeter L macro lens and MPE 60 millimeter macro lens, and was edited in 4K. Keep up with Blanchard’s surreal transformations on Vimeo and Instagram.

 

 



Animation Illustration

Fluttering Moths Radiate Whimsy in Twinkling Gifs by Vlad Stankovic

January 22, 2020

Grace Ebert

All gifs © Vlad Stankovic

Sydney-based illustrator and graphic designer Vlad Stankovic (previously) has a gift for crafting playful animated scenes. His recent “Piccalilli Moths” project—which was commissioned by Preen, a Los Angeles-based design and architecture firm, for a Culver City restaurant—features sparkly moths that are surrounded by insects and beetles with fluttering wings, twinkling mushrooms, and muted plants that sprout in the background. Created with watercolors and colored pencil before being transferred to Photoshop, the whimsical gifs “were printed using lenticular printing, a technique where the image gives an illusion of depth and movement when viewed from different angles,” the artist said in a statement about the project. Check out Etsy or Society6 to purchase some of Stankovic’s similarly charming illustrations and prints.

 

 



Craft

Giant Fabric Butterfly and Moth Sculptures Hand-Crafted by Yumi Okita

December 22, 2019

Andrew LaSane

All images © Yumi Okita, shared with permission

North Carolina-based artist Yumi Okita (previously) layers hand-painted fabric, embroidery thread, feathers, and faux fur to create large sculptures of insects. Each handmade moth and butterfly is one-of-a-kind, with coloration and patterning often inspired by existing species.

Okita’s fiber sculptures are designed to be hung from wires or displayed as free-standing works. The fabric wings on the insects measure up to 9.5 inches wide, while the furry creatures stand an impressive 3.5 to 4.5 inches tall. From a distance, they could be mistaken for the real thing, but a closer look reveals an intricate weave of materials and a vibrant array of colors.

The unique creations are sold via Yumi Okita’s Etsy shop, and you check out the growing specimen gallery over on Instagram.

 

 



Art

Magazine Cutouts Form Nature Collages Shaped Like Birds and Butterflies by Jennifer Murphy

November 4, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Toronto-based artist Jennifer Murphy combines cutouts of animals, plants, and other organic objects to create large-scale nature collages. Strung together using gossamer thread, the collages form the silhouettes of birds and surreal outdoor scenes from Murphy’s imagination.

The artist sources images of varying color and scale from nature magazines and textbooks and uses them as the pieces to much larger puzzles. The collages are wall-mounted, often without frames, which makes the oversized butterflies and birds appear as if they are floating in mid-air against the white gallery walls. A series of Murphy’s recent works, The Shadow of Sirius, was exhibited at Clint Roenisch Gallery in Toronto from September 5 through October 12, 2019. Murphy said in a statement that it was the loss of a close friend a decade ago that prompted her shift to making larger scale pieces. “The work was a way to cope with the grief but also an outlet to hope. This series comes at another time of loss, both personal and I believe collective. We now live in a time of ecological mourning and are in desperate need for paths to rediscover hope.”

For a closer look at the creatures and objects that make up Jennifer Murphy’s ecosystems, follow Clint Roenisch Gallery and the artist on Instagram. (via MyModernMet)