A panel of National Geographic photo editors have chosen the winners of the 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest from a pool of over 10,000 entries. The grand prize winner, and top pick for the “Places” group is an aerial shot (above) by Jassen Todorov of a Volkswagen and Audi graveyard at the Southern California Logistics Airport in the Mojave Desert. The striking image shows a fraction of the 11 million cars that Volkswagen fitted with devices that could alter performance during emissions tests by the EPA. Todorov’s image uses a plane for scale to visually demonstrate a story of environmental issues. As the winner, Todorov earned $5000 and a feature on National Geographic’s Instagram.
Submitted across three categories (People, Places, and Wildlife), the other winning images and honorable mentions span the globe in terms of content and photographers. To read more about each image, check out their respective captions below, and head over to the 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest website.
Share this story
Artist Heesoo Lee (previously) uses multi-layered techniques to form intricate trees, complete with leaves and branches, that seem to grow out of her functional ceramic vessels. Lee’s careful use of color establishes a seasonal mood in each of her works, some evoking the warm tones and fallen leaves of autumn, while others capture the barren beauty of winter. Each woodland scene is drawn from Lee’s imagination. The artist shares that she happened upon her current style of work by chance: her background is as a painter, and she used clay more as a smooth canvas until one day she was working on a tight deadline and was attempting to repair a broken pot, which inspired her to build three-dimensionally.
Lee explains that she uses translucent porcelain because its “beautiful clarity and color and is the perfect canvas for the bright underglaze and glazes I use.” The artist begins by forming each tree individually, starting with the closest and largest trees as she builds perspective by filling in the background with progressively smaller trunks, each of which is individually formed with a clay coil. Next, for her non-wintry pieces, each leaf is individually formed and applied to create the dense foliage that further increases the sense of depth on the surface of her ceramics. After an initial firing, Lee applies colored details using painted underglaze, which must be applied without overlapping different glazes to prevent discoloration after firing. Lastly, she chooses from a range of finishing glazes, selected depending on the desired effect, like an icy blue vernal pool or clearly defined leaves.
Lee shares that she first came to the United States, looking for freedom and adventure and with little knowledge of English, first living in Berkeley, California. She started re-exploring ceramics outside of the strictures of traditional Korean ceramics, rediscovering her love of the tactile medium after studying painting in college. Lee has been a working artist alongside her partner, a fellow ceramic artist for many years, and cites her time in residence at the Archie Bray Foundation as a seminal experience:
My work, mostly in medium-range porcelain, expanded beyond painted surfaces, my mainstay for many years. I pushed my work beyond the motifs I had been using for many years–flowers, mostly–and built larger than I had before. I was inspired by my children, the landscape of the places where I lived, and my own childhood in Korea, and reflected these themes in my work. I found that working in a place like the Bray, surrounded by other artists who created a supportive, inviting, and welcoming community, gave me the freedom to grow as an artist.
Lee lives and works in Helena, Montana, where she has a home studio and kiln. You can see more of Lee’s in-progress and finished work on Instagram, and she also keeps her Etsy shop updated with new pieces available for purchase.
Share this story
South Florida-based artist Amy Gross creates hand-embroidered and beaded fiber sculptures that contain colorful nods to the natural world. Bees dot the surface of a work formed from leaves, honeycomb, and moss, while other works contain kaleidoscopic arrays of birds, mushrooms, and other fungi. Although the sculptures reflect a natural symbiosis, their structures are fictionalized in both their color and composition. None of the elements of her pieces are found objects, but rather each handmade from craft store supplies and objects like yarn, beads, wire, and paper.
“Making objects is my way of turning thought into something solid and real, and in a way, slowing time,” Gross tells Colossal. “I never use anything in my work that was ever alive, I collaborate solely with manufactured materials. They mimic living things but will not wither or die. It’s a very human desire to slow or control disintegration, to try to have a say in a volatile, uncontrollable world of change.”
Gross is included in a group exhibition titled Small Works, Big Impact which opens on November 15, 2018 at Momentum Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina. You can see more of her nature-inspired assemblages on her website.
Share this story
Spanish photographer Xavi Bou (previously) tracks and records the flight patterns of birds, combining their repetitive movements into elongated shapes that twist through the sky for his series Ornitographies. The images are inspired by chronophotography, a Victorian era photography method that combined multiple images to create movement, and edited digitally in Photoshop. The layered images appear like floating double helixes or fringed ribbon depending on the size and wingspan of each bird, and create elegant gestures as they criss-cross against the blue sky.
Recently Bou traveled to Iceland where he captured new species of birds set against a dramatically different landscape than his previous images. “Iceland was especially interesting because I was looking for the contrast between the size and heaviness of the volcanic rocks, in contrast between the tiny patterns that marine birds create in the sky,” he tells Colossal. Bou has also recently visited Barcelona to watch pigeons race across the city, and Tarifa, Spain to experience thousands of birds from all over Europe cross the sea towards Africa. You can see more of his multi-shot avian images on his website and Instagram.
Share this story
Chris Perani uses macro photography to capture the microscopic details found on butterflies’ wings, such as multi-colored hairs and iridescent scales. To photograph with such precision, the photographer uses a 10x microscope objective attached to a 200mm lens, which presents an almost non-existent depth of field. “The lens must be moved no more than 3 microns per photo to achieve focus across the thickness of the subject which can be up to 8 millimeters,” Perani explains to Colossal. “This yields 350 exposures, each with a sliver in focus, that must be composited together.” In total this accounts for 2,100 separate exposures combined into a single image. For more detailed observations of butterfly wings, visit Perani’s website. (via Colossal Submissions)
Share this story
Al Mefer transforms rural Iceland into a rouge-tinted world, producing images that make the area’s shrubbery look like candy floss, and moss-covered landscapes appear like red velvet cake. Mefer photographs a mixture of Icelandic topography, from iconic waterfalls to fields full of pink sheep. His photographs reveal the elements of the natural world that are often blurred into the background, such as the clustered patterns moss makes when growing on boulders, or how water froths was it spills over a waterfall.
Mefer’s project Dreamscapes of Iceland started while Mefer was traveling around the country with friends, and began to use a reflex camera to capture the country’s beautiful scenes. While exploring the Golden Circle, in the South of the country, Mefer photographed locations that would imprint an indelible memory upon him: Skógafoss’s waterfalls, cliffs and coastline, and Jökulsárlón’s glacial lake. “Iceland has been photographed a million times,” says Mefer, “I wanted to picture it in a way that it’d feel new yet as oneiric in the images as it is to see it live.”
The red and pink colors in Mefer’s photographs resemble the reddish hues inside the human body; the tones magnify the differences in texture and form between the living and non-living whilst having an emotional impact on the viewer. “Color affects us emotionally and I often focus my attention on it as a tool to rewrite reality,” he explains. Although some of Mefer’s photographs include people, a stillness is still captured in each photograph. “There’s a common trait among my projects to feel that the landscapes are mysterious and unexplored,” Mefer says. “They’re lonely even if populated.”
Share this story
The Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards (previously) just closed submissions for their fourth annual competition which collects the most entertaining images from wildlife photographers across the globe. Last year the Overall Winner was an adorable owl caught as it nearly toppled off a branch, and the Under the Sea Winner featured a sassy sea turtle slap. This year submissions range from a disappointed rabbit, to a rhino sporting some uncharacteristic peacock plumage.
The second hardcover volume of the Comedy Wildlife Photography Awards is now available for pre-order on Amazon, and award winners for the 2018 competition will be announced on November 15, 2018. To vote for your favorite image from this year’s 41 finalists, or for more information on the competition and their conservation efforts with Born Free, visit their website. (via Kottke)
Share this story
Editor's Picks: Street Art
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.