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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

 

 



Art

Idyllic Landscape Paintings by Artist Tomás Sánchez Render Nature’s Meditative Qualities

March 27, 2020

Grace Ebert

“Aislarse” (2001), acrylic on linen. All images © Tomás Sánchez

For nearly three decades, Cuban painter Tomás Sánchez has been painting serene landscapes of calm waters and verdant forests full of towering palms and dense shrubs. Now part of a lengthy series, his realistic works focus on nature’s immensity as they contrast massive waterfalls and miles of endless treetops with a nondescript figure, who often can be found seated or standing amongst the lush scenery.

In a statement, Sánchez explained how his practice of meditation informs his work. “The interior spaces that I experience in meditation are converted into the landscapes of my paintings; the restlessness of my mind transformed into landfills,” he writes. “When I paint, I experience meditative states; through meditation, I achieve a union with nature, and nature, in turn, leads me to meditation.”

For more of the Costa Rica-based artist’s projects, head to Instagram, and check out Artsy to see which tranquil paintings you can add to your own collection.

“Orilla y cielo gris” (1995), acrylic on canvas, 23½ x 35½ inches

“Autorretrato en tarde rosa” (1994), acrylic on linen, 30 x 39 ³/₄ inches

“Llegada del caminante a la laguna” (1999)

“Meditación y sonido de aguas” (1993), acrylic on canvas 60.5 x 76 centimeters

“Atardecer,” acrylic on canvas, 109.9 x 149.2 centimeters

 

 



Photography

Wearable Sculptures Blend Humans into Surrounding Landscapes in Photographs by Nordic Artists

March 9, 2020

Vanessa Ruiz

“Brit” (Norway 2018). All images © Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen, shared with permission

Norwegian-Finnish artist duo Karoline Hjorth and Riitta Ikonen bring a folklore-inspired vision to the relationship between humans and nature. The majority of their subjects are elders who often have a deeper connection to the lands they inhabit, work on, or cultivate.

In 2011, the pair started an imaginative series called Eyes as Big as Plates as a contemporary exploration of characters from Nordic folklore. Their photographic odyssey across 15 countries and creation of more than 100 portraits evolved into a general exploration of modern humans’ relationships to nature. The title of the series not only comes from a folktale but also represents the curiosity that guides the way Hjorth and Ikonen interact with the world.

Each photograph features a solitary figure in a landscape wearing a sculpture of the natural elements of their choosing. For example, Brit (above), a ceramic artist, is shown plastered to a rock with the blue clay that underlies much of her hometown in Norway. Bob (below), a retired fashion photography expert, wears a giant hat and coat of pine needles while sitting in Forest Park in Queens, New York.

Hjorth and Ikonen consider their subjects to be integral parts of their artistic practice, and in doing so, refer to them as collaborators rather than models. The two artists exude a natural, almost magical excitement for people and life. This is key to not only finding and connecting with the people in their photographs but also to convincing them to immerse themselves in the wonders of a landscape.

This ultimate harmony is the result of a long process of preparing for and setting up the photo shoot. Materials such as moss, bull kelp, puffball mushrooms, and millet must be gathered and assembled into what amounts to a wearable sculpture. The strangest materials they tell Colossal include “sea urchins and starfish. And there was the time we collected a whole load of Rhododendron tomentosum (marsh Labrador tea) while in the very north of Norway, luckily the intense smell made us look the plant up in more detail before engulfing our collaborator in its poisonous terpenes. Collecting wearable-sized-icebergs in Greenland was one of those moments that we both remember vividly also!”

On-site, Hjorth and Ikonen shoot with analog cameras on film. The process also can be long and challenging for the collaborator, who sometimes is wearing a delicate sculpture of itchy twigs or kneeling for hours in wet moss, not to mention dealing the variable conditions—wind, rain, sleet, and dense fog—that the environment throws at them day-to-day. The end result is a portrait of a subject who exudes a playful confidence as they are one with the landscape.

As for the future, the duo shares their vision with Colossal. “We are open to working with all curious souls and as we re-angle ourselves to looking at the effects of climate change and our role in it. The intergenerational movers and shakers exist in all demographics across ages!”

Hjorth and Ikonen currently are working on Eyes as Big as Plates Vol. 2, which they are attempting to fund via Kickstarter before March 15. Follow their fascinating journeys around the world on both Karoline’s and Riitta’s Instagrams and their growing project Eyes as Big as Plates.

“Karin” (Norway 2019)

“Bob II” (USA 2013)

“Pupi” (Finland 2012)

“Mane” (Senegal 2019)

“Jakob” (Greenland 2015)

“Astrid I” (Norway 2011)

“Halvar I” (Norway 2011)

“Niels” (Faroe Islands 2015)

“Arnold II” (Faroe Islands 2015)

“Edda” (Iceland 2013)

 

 



Photography

Aerial Photographs of Vast Ocean Landscapes by Tobias Hägg Observe Earth’s Propensity for Change

February 27, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images © Tobias Hägg, shared with permission

Photographing the jewel-toned waters jutting up against beaches and the salt-speckled lagoons, Tobias Hägg frames some of Earth’s most striking landscapes. Based in Stockholm, he captures nature’s movement and the inevitability of change within environments, offering a broader look by shooting from above. Hägg often features ocean waters as they ripple, slosh, and crash into the land, although he also documents trees as they transform at the beginning of autumn, showing a thick forest full of orange hues. “I find pleasure in the most simple scenes. In a way, I think it defines me,” the photographer wrote on Instagram. To see more of Hägg’s stunning aerial shots or to add one to your collection, head to his site.

 

 



Photography

Winter Sun Casts Icelandic Mountain Range in Alluring Candy-Colored Hues

February 21, 2020

Grace Ebert

All images @ Patrycja Pati Makowska, shared with permission

Iceland-based photographer Patrycja Pati Makowska utilizes the natural allure of Reykjavic’s landscape to capture her striking images that rely on the sunrise and sunset to transform a mountain shot into an idyllic work. Taken from Hallgrimskirkja, a church in Reykjavic, Makowska’s 2019 Texture of the Mt. Esja in the Winter Sun series shows the sunlight illuminating the top of the icy mountains with pink hues. The light fades into shades of purples and blues as it recedes into shadows of the snow-covered ground. Mount Esja, which is actually a volcanic mountain range rather than an individual summit, sits about 10 kilometers north of the nation’s capital city. At its peak, it reaches nearly 3,000 feet. For more of Makowska’s light-centric images, head to Instagram or Behance. (via Fubiz)

 

 



Illustration

Pocket-Sized Notebooks Hold Miniature Paintings of Angela Mckay’s Travels

February 18, 2020

Grace Ebert

Riserva Naturale Orientata Cavagrande del Cassibile in Italy. All images © Angela Mckay, shared with permission

Paging through a photo album detailing every moment of a friend’s poolside vacation might not be a riveting activity, but flipping through Angela Mckay’s sketchbooks filled with tiny paintings of her travels certainly is. The Brooklyn-based pattern designer and illustrator of Ohkii Studio documents the lush scenery, cavernous waters, and hilly villages she sees on the streets of Lagos, Calamosche Beach on Italy’s southern coast, and in Joshua Tree National Park. Mckay generally positions her miniature paintings against the real-life backdrop, juxtaposing the two depictions that she then shares on Instagram.

The artist tells Colossal that she frequently recreates some of the pieces in her sketchbooks on a larger scale after returning home, relying on her earlier representation for the tiny details she otherwise might not remember. “Often when I’m traveling, I have this urgent feeling that I need to capture everything I’m experiencing, the sights, feelings and textures of a place,” she says.

I really enjoy that feeling of walking around a new place not knowing what I might discover around the corner. I often try to recreate the feeling of a place I have visited in my personal work… I really enjoy the experience of looking at a painting and being transported back to that experience. It’s a nice way to escape from your day to day!

The pocket-size notebooks are a crucial component of Mckay’s process, and she utilizes them in both her personal projects and her work for clients. “They just allow me to play with ideas and explore other directions without having to commit to anything,” she says. To pick up one of Mckay’s watercolor and gouache artworks or prints, head to her shop. (via Lustik)

Joshua Tree National Park

Calamosche Beach

Lagos, Portugal

Left: Wat Phra That Chom Pho, Thailand. Right: Yosemite National Park

Lagos, Portugal

Right: Margaret River, Western Australia

Lagos, Portugal

 

 



Craft

Intricate Landscapes and Animals Cut From Single Sheet of Paper by Pippa Dyrlaga

February 3, 2020

Grace Ebert

“This Fragile World,” (2019), hand cut paper and acrylic paint, about 11 x 11 inches. All images © Pippa Dyrlaga

For Pippa Dyrlaga, one piece of paper holds a lot of possibility. The Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire-based artist cuts each one of her delicate creations from a single sheet. Her intricate designs turn a blank page into a plant-filled landscape or a robot tending to a garden. Dyrlaga begins by sketching each piece in reverse, before cutting sections out. Then she flips it over to unveil the finished work or to paint details onto the piece.

Whereas her previous work often utilized a single white sheet, the artist now is working more with color, painting shades of blues, golds, and black, which helps to distinguish one group of plants or mosses from the next in her lush landscapes. She also has been inspired by Greek mythology and lore, describing “Psychopomp” (shown below) as “a spirit or deity, often depicted in animal form, which guide people into the afterlife,” on her site. “The piece is split into two, night and day, life and death. The daytime is represents life and growth, organic patterns and plants. The second half with nocturnal animals and abstract patterns, representing the more abstract idea of what comes ‘after.'”

Head to Dyrlaga’s Instagram for more of her intricate creations, and see which are available for purchase in her shop.

“Torn #3” (2019), torn and hand cut paper, painted with acrylic, about 20 x 10 centimeters

Left: “Arber” (2020), hand painted and cut Japanese 36 gsm washi paper. Right: “Garden Spirit” (2019), hand painted and cut Japanese 36 gsm washi paper

(2018), hand drawn and hand cut Awagami Kozo Natural Select paper 46 gsm, about 23 x 25 centimeters

Left: “Torn #1” (2019), hand cut paper. Right: “Torn #2” (2019), hand drawn and cut paper

“Bright” (2019), hand cut from Awagami Factory 36 gsm paper and painted with acrylic paint

Left: “Psychopomp,” hand drawn and hand cut paper, 80 x 40 centimeters. Right: “Bennu,” hand cut 32 gsm gampi washi paper, with hand painted gold acrylic

‘While the World is Asleep” (2018), hand drawn and hand cut paper, about 42 x 28 centimeters

 

 

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