Blanketing much of Ghana’s landscape is Lake Volta, an artificial reservoir with the largest surface area in the world. The enormous body of water spans from the southern part of the African country through the northern region and is contained by the Akosombo Dam, which generates much of the nation’s electricity.
Despite the stunning environment and rich surrounding landscape, the lake has a sinister side that photographer Jeremy Snell captures in a new book, titled Boys of Volta. “Thousands of children work in its massive fishing industry—and many of these children are trafficked into labor,” a statement about the project says. Through intimate and impactful shots, the Brooklyn-based photographer peers into the lives of young boys who wade into the tree-speckled water with swathes of fishing nets. Snell writes about the project:
The trafficking of children and child labor in this region has a lot to do with the complex economic and social history of the Ghanaians residing around the lake. Young children are targeted for fishing because of their mobility and small hands for untangling nets. This series hopes to capture some of the solitude and innocence of young children entrapped in this reality.
Individual prints and the book compiling Snell’s series are currently available from Setanta Books with ten percent of proceeds going to International Justice Mission, a global organization that strives to end slavery, police abuse, and violence against women and children. Follow Snell’s projects that document life around the world on Instagram. (via Creative Boom)
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Shot at an elevation nearing 10,000 feet in Colorado’s Rocky Mountains, a series of images by Eric Gross capture a high-alpine lake covered in icy ridges and dips that mimic sleek waves. The Colorado-based photographer tells Colossal that local experts believe the phenomenon is caused by snowdrifts blowing onto the already frozen lake, melting there, and then refreezing. “Through multiple melt/freeze cycles and after periods of high winds, the mounds and divots are shaped into deep curves, sometimes with sharp ridges and lines that give the appearance of regular lake waves, frozen in time,” Gross says. “Composing images from ground level revealed that the dark ice waves exhibit psychedelic reflections of the surrounding mountainous landscape.” To see more of the photographer’s phenomenological works, head to Instagram.
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Photographer Kristina Makeeva creates captivating scenes centered around Lake Baikal. The lake, located in Russia, is the largest freshwater lake in the world by volume, holding nearly a quarter of the world’s fresh surface water. Makeeva takes advantage of its vastness in forming otherworldly images that seem totally separate from the built environments most of us reside in. “The first time I visited Baikal, I had no expectations, and yet what I saw and felt kept me awake for the three days I was there, Makeeva tells Colossal. “I was exploding with inspiration. Now, having traveled to many countries around the world, I still think of Baikal as one of the most beautiful places.”
Makeeva uses Lake Baikal as both the stage and the star in her striking photographs. Often, a single figure centered in the image poses in a manner that draws attention to the surprisingly vibrant colors, shapes, and textures in the frozen landscape. The photographer frequently outfits her models in ruffled tulle dresses with impossibly long trains or minimalist white suits that call to mind astronauts or acrobats. Makeeva explains that depending on the shoot, she either brings models from Moscow or hires local models to work on location, or the models are integrated into the frigid landscape in post-production if their costumes are tricky to travel with.
The artist explains that after a childhood in Moscow’s “grey and boring suburbs”, she is eager to incorporate the magical energy of fairy tales and fantasy into her photographs. “As I travel and read more, I’ve been able to add an element of cultural understanding and context to some of my favorite fairy tales,” says Makeeva.
I always have a movie playing in my head. As a photographer, you still need to do your homework if you want to create something unique in that location. So I immerse myself into history, landscape, and pictures. It’s important to have a special inventory list. As weather conditions play a major role in shoots, we will often order special clothes and dresses that fit with the landscape. We envision and look at several dresses in advance of a shoot. And, of course, we also buy thermal clothes for the model so that she’s as comfortable as possible in the climate.
In reflecting on the end results of her meticulously researched work as an artist, Makeeva tells Colossal, “How I feel about my art and how others feel is often very different. This is natural because our experience of art depends on our life experiences. As a rule, I try not to title my photos, so that everyone is free to interpret my photography however they’d like.”
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In the northeast corner of North Dakota lies Devils Lake. It is the largest natural body of water in the state, and yet it holds within it a seemingly unnatural phenomenon. Once-prosperous farming communities used to stand where the lake now is, the reach and depth of the current waters subsuming the abandoned tall silos, stately houses, and squat barns. The lake began rising in 1993 and has risen 35 feet in just over two decades. Due to a lack of outlet for the water and a period of heavy rains in the early 1990’s, the high water simply never subsided, rendering the formerly productive area completely uninhabitable and taking 300 homes with it.
Minnesota-based photographer Paul Johnson (previously) set out during two different seasons, summer (via kayak) and winter, to witness and document the lost community. Large trucks sit embedded up to their wheel wells in thick ice, a silo door is seamlessly mirrored in the water that reaches over its threshold, and barns lean at spectacularly acute angles, seemingly glued in place by the surrounded fresh or frozen water.
“Abandoned places hold a wistful appeal to me and I think to many of us,” Johnson shared in an interview with Passion Passport. “They are the final chapters of unknown stories where we’re left to ponder the details. Their quiet stillness can spur thoughts about the nature of time and the processes of decay and reclamation.” If you are interested in further reading about the history of the area, Modern Farmer has a long-form story from the perspective of a Devils Lake native.
In addition to his still photography, Johnson is continuing to work on animated land art which will be compiled into an upcoming short film. Stay tuned for previews of these pieces on Instagram and Tumblr. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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Reuben Wu (previously) uses long exposure techniques to capture light traces formed by a moving drone equipped with a lighting rig. In his latest group of images the paths create illuminated symbols such as a square, plus sign, and triangle from straight, narrow lines. The shapes hover just above the horizon with an abstracted reflection projected in the water below. “The project name Aeroglyph describes what I see as large temporary geometries created in the air,” Wu tells Colossal, “only visible in their entirety through the capture of a camera.”
The project is an evolution of his ongoing Lux Noctis series which focuses on specific light paths, rather than entire illuminated landscapes. “This is why I chose a wide and featureless body of water, where there are no other compositional elements other than a horizon and a textural reflection in the water,” Wu explains. The plus and minus symbols were shot over the Pacific Ocean at night, while the square and triangle were captured over the bright blue waters of Lake Michigan.
The Chicago-based photographer’s book Lux Noctis will be released this October, and is currently available for preorder through Kris Graves Projects. You can see more images from Wu on his website and Instagram.
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Minnesota-based wildlife photographer Brent Cizek was headed back to shore before a summer storm when he spotted the common merganser he would later nickname “Momma Merganser.” At first the mother duck was being followed by a brood of more than 50 fluffy ducklings, however when spotted the group again, the total had grown to 76.
“I happened to find this group of mergansers purely by luck, but I was absolutely amazed by what I saw,” Cizek tells Colossal. “At the time I didn’t know anything about the species, so I wasn’t sure if what I witnessed was a common occurrence or something out of the ordinary. All I knew was that I had never seen anything like that before.”
The scene is extraordinary indeed. Although the aquatic birds are known to lay their eggs in the nests of other ducks, a female duck can only incubate 20 at any given time explains Kenn Kaufman, field editor for Audubon. It is most likely that several dozen of the ducklings lost their mothers and were adopted into Momma Merganser’s own brood.
Cizek plans to continue following the extra large family, and posts his findings to on Instagram. To learn more about merganser habits, read the National Audubon Society’s piece on the surprising spectacle. (via Laughing Squid)
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