Birds Hunt, Hide, and Blow Impressive Smoke Rings in a Selection of Images from the 2019 Audubon Photography Awards
The Audubon Photography Awards are celebrating their tenth year with an array of bird images that capture moments often missed by the human eye. In the contest’s grand prize winning photo, amateur photographer Kathrin Swoboda presents a red-winged blackbird emitting what appears to be perfect rings of smoke from its beak into the cold morning air. Another image by photographer Kevin Ebi catches an unbelievable rabbit theft in which a bald eagle struggles to steal dinner from an unsuspecting fox.
A new category revealed in this year’s contest is Plants for Birds, which honors Audubon’s Plants for Birds program. The category asked photographers to present unique depictions of birds alongside local plant life, as a way to addresses the importance of native plants to the survival of surrounding wildlife. This winner of the inaugural award was the San Diego-based photographer Michael Schulte who presented a hooded oriole gathering bits of palm fibers for a nest. You can see the rest of this year’s award winners on Audubon’s website.
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Nature Thrives in Tehran’s Abandoned Courtyards, Staircases, and Bedrooms in a Photo Series by Gohar Dashti
Iranian photographer Gohar Dashti was born in Ahwaz during the early years of the Islamic Revolution and grew up during the Iran-Iraq war. Her personal memories of this time influenced her 2017 series Home, which looks at what happens after human displacement. In the photographs, large abandoned spaces are filled with plentiful plants, fleshing out the spaces with lush growth that highlights the absence of human life. “[The] people in Home moved out, and the images show what happens when one’s home is left behind,” she explains in her artist statement. “The photographs reveal the power of nature to consume and conquer a home.”
The sites Dashti choose to photograph around Tehran are not historical, but rather everyday spaces that residents were forced to leave due to social issues. During an interview with LensCulture she recalls visiting her hometown and finding a building that had belonged to her neighbors. “They had left during the war, and the house had fallen into disrepair. But, on their veranda, a fern remained,” she explained. “It had flourished in their absence, and its neck now curved against its own weight. It had the power to stay there. Left alone, it would eventually consume and conquer the home.”
Some scenes are staged to emphasize the power of nature’s unwavering return, while others are stumbled upon and shot as is. No matter what the location the images emphasize Dashti’s personal connections to the country and nature itself. “People are transient while nature is a constant,” she concludes in her artist statement, “it will be here long after we are all gone.” You can see more photographic series from the artist on her website and Instagram. (via LensCulture)
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Underwater Footage Captures the Mesmerizing Iridescent Webs of Two Blanket Octopuses Near the Philippines
While navigating the waters near Romblon Island in the Philippines, diver Joseph Elayani came across a magnificent sight. Elayani and fellow divers encountered two female Blanket Octopuses shimmering in the dark water, their rainbow figures illuminated against the dark and speckled sea. The animals get their name from the billowing net-like membranes that stretch between a few of their arms. When threatened, this web is stretched to create a ghostly silhouette to frighten away potential enemies. The mysterious creatures’ mating habits are just as confounding as their blanket-like attribute. Males grow to be about an inch long, while females can grow up to six-feet-long and weight up to 40,000 times the size of their partner. You can view more of Elayani’s dive on his Youtube channel. (via Laughing Squid)
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Photographer Zack Seckler (previously) continues to document the Earth’s surface from above. The New York-based artist travels to a wide range of landscapes, and flies above them in small airplanes to provide a zoomed-out perspective. His abstracted images simultaneously show the unique beauty of each location’s topography, while also highlighting the continuity of our shared planet. In places as different as Botswana and Iceland, the rippling surface and cool tones of waterways, the graceful paths of birds in flight, and the rich texture of forests and brush are united in their rugged beauty.
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In order to spread as widely as possible, some varieties of seeds will grow sharp thorns and burs. These sharp points allow the seeds to attach themselves to unsuspecting animals or humans unnoticed, and has earned them the moniker of “hitchhiker plants.” Photographer Dillon Marsh (previously here and here) is accustomed to these seeds hitching a ride on his shoes or clothes during photo excursions through tall grasses of his home in South Africa. Curious about the details hidden beyond their sharp edges, Marsh began to take macro photographs of these natural objects which reveal the often unnoticed resemblance to faces or skulls.
To create such detailed photographs Marsh set up a tiny photo studio. “After carefully lighting the seeds, I then photographed them using a macro lens which allows me to zoom in but leaves me with a very narrow depth of field,” Marsh explains to Colossal. “To overcome this, I take several photos of each seed, incrementally focussing along its entire depth. I then stack the images together in Photoshop in order to create one fully detailed image.”
Marsh is currently adding works to his series Counting the Costs, in which the photographer digitally embeds spheres of melting glaciers amongst city life in India, and soon other parts of the world. You can view more of his projects on Instagram and Behance.
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Combining art and activism, the PangeaSeed Foundation is a Hawaii-based nonprofit organization that is doing its part to help save Earth’s waters with its “Sea Walls: Artists For Oceans” international mural program. Since its inception in 2014, over 350 ocean-themed murals have been painted in 15 countries by the organization’s network of over 300 artists. With activations in Australia, New Zealand, the United States, Mexico, and several other locations around the globe, the initiative engages the public and educates the world about critical environmental issues threatening our most precious resources through art, film screenings, and discussions.
PangeaSeed founder and executive director Tré Packard tells Colossal that when it comes to choosing which artists to work with and what they should paint, balance and community are key. “We always aim to create a balance between international, national and local artists,” he said. “Over the years, with the Sea Walls: Artists for Oceans program being nomadic, we’ve learned the importance of community ownership of the murals once we’ve packed up and left town. There tends to be so many incredible local creatives in the areas we host projects, so we work hand in hand with the local project director to help identify local artists who we invite to participate in the project.” Artists are given a list of topics to choose from and together with the team narrow it down to one. The murals are site-specific in that they address issues relevant to the places where they are painted. Some artists have even connected with local scientists and activists during the planning stage to better inform their designs.
“The beauty of public art lies in the fact that it is a public good where even ‘non-artsy’ folks can be touched and empowered by experiencing the process or the finished product,” Packard said about the mural program. “In addition to encouraging other artists to create for a purpose, our chief goal is to effect positive behavioral change at the individual and community level, so we’re thrilled when fans who aren’t artistically inclined are moved.” As for ways that people can get involved and help, he suggests finding ways to use less plastic, eating sustainable seafood, and voting for politicians with ocean-minded ideas.
Packard says that there are some dream projects on the horizon for Sea Walls, but those details are still under wraps for now. To learn more about the foundation and its upcoming activations, follow @pangeaseed and @Seawalls_ on social media.
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Bruce the Eagle Gets his 15 Minutes of Fame in a Symmetrical Glamour Shot by Photographer Steve Biro
An eagle named Bruce, resident at the Canadian Raptor Conservancy in Ontario, recently took a dive over open water at the conservancy. Amateur photographer Steve Biro happened to be there at just the right moment, with camera in hand. Bruce’s arced wings reflected in the water below form a an almost perfect oval, and the bird’s bright yellow beak and piercing gaze are directed squarely at the camera. Bald eagles can have a wingspan ranging from six to seven and half feet.
“I snapped a couple images from the side and decided I wanted to get a vantage point where I might be able to shoot him more straight on,” Biro explains to Colossal. “There was a large rock right at the water’s edge were I laid down beside and rested my upper body on trying to get as low as possible.” Biro notes that Bruce was flying close enough to him that he could feel the draft from the bird’s wings, so he was able to a macro lens to capture the moment. Follow along with Biro’s nature explorations on Instagram. (via PetaPixel)
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Editor's Picks: Sculpture
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.