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Art Photography

Winter Is Coming: A Photographic Tribute to ‘Game of Thrones’ by Kilian Schönberger

April 14, 2019

Andrew LaSane

In honor of the final season of Games of Thrones, German photographer Kilian Schönberger (previously) has translated his ethereal photography of central Europe’s icy landscapes, mystical castles, and foggy forests into a photographic tribute. Inspired by the frozen fantasy world of George R.R. Martin’s books and by the geography of his native lands, Schönberger’s alternate storyline imagines snow-covered trees as menacing White Walkers, towering mountain ranges as The Wall, and ancient stone structures as home to the highborn families of Westeros.

Schönberger tells Colossal that the photographs published in his online tribute were taken in forests along the German-Czech border, in the rocky canyon landscapes of Saxon Switzerland, Saxony, and East Germany, inside of an ice cave near Germany’s Lake Königssee, and at the foot of the Dolomites this past winter. Using his background in geography studies and his knowledge of meteorology, Schönberger says that his process as a photographer involves a lot of preparation and waiting so that he can capture the “genius loci” (the pervading spirit of a place) at just the right time.

“Since I grew up myself in a remote forest area, my childhood was shaped by the local fairytales and a lot of experiences out in nature,” he said. “And that is what’s still visible in my work today. I try to capture the scenes that inspire people to make up their own stories with my photos as a visual backdrop.” To see the images in context with Schönberger’s narrative, check out the photographer’s Behance portfolio. To see even more of his landscape photography, follow him on Instagram.

 

 



Art Photography

Black Bodies Painted and Photographed Like the Cosmos by Mikael Owunna

April 7, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Infinite Essence: “James” (2018) All images courtesy of Mikael Owunna

Mikael Chukwuma Owunna, a queer Nigerian-Swedish artist raised in Pittsburgh, has spent the past two and a half years photographing Black men and women for a series titled Infinite Essence. Hand-painted using fluorescent paints and photographed in complete darkness, Owunna’s subjects are illuminated by a flash outfitted with a UV filter, which turns their nude bodies into glowing celestial figures.

Owunna tells Colossal that the series was his response to the frequent images and videos of Black people being killed by those sworn to protect them: the police. The photographer’s friends, family members, dancers, and one person he connected with on Instagram serve as models for the project, which is named after an idea from his Igbo heritage. “All of our individual spirits are just one ray of the infinite essence of the sun,” Owunna explains. “By transcending the visible spectrum, I work to illuminate a world beyond our visible structures of racism, sexism, homophobia and transphobia where the black body is free.”

Infinite Essence: “Uche” (2019)

Having struggled with his own body image (and with his identity as a gay African man, which has inspired his previous work), Owunna says that the response to the project has been powerful, both from the public and from the models. “One of the models, Emem, broke down in tears looking at their pictures saying that they had always dreamed of seeing their body adorned with stars and that these images were beyond their wildest imagination,” he said. “They then told me – ‘every black person deserves to see themselves in this way’ and how the experience was life-altering for them.”

After seeing Owunna’s work via an NPR feature, a 60-year-old Black woman told the photographer, “I’ve hated my body all my life, but–for a glorious instant–that photo made me feel good about it.”

To see more of Mikael Owunna’s work and to be informed about his upcoming lectures and exhibitions, follow the artist on Instagram and Twitter.

Infinite Essence: “Sam” (2018)

Infinite Essence: “Sam” (2018)

Infinite Essence: “Sam” (2018)

Infinite Essence: “Sam” (2018)

Infinite Essence: “Kinya” (2017)

Infinite Essence: “Emem” (2018)

Infinite Essence: “Emem” (2018)

 

 



Art Photography

Abstract Interiors Revealed in Golf Ball Cross-Section Photography by James Friedman

April 6, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Images courtesy of James Friedman

After viewing a display at a golf trade equipment show, Ohio-based photographer James Friedman was inspired to create an abstract series that focuses on the internal structures of standard size golf balls. The enlarged prints of chipped, broken, and sliced balls reveal complex and colorful cores that contrast the hard, white uniformity of their exteriors.

Friedman varies the cutting style from ball to ball, with some cleanly sliced into perfect halves and others roughly carved down to their rubber, resin, and metal centers. The abstract textures they form is both a result of their construction and a result of the artistic process. “For some viewers, my photographs from this series, titled Interior Design, allude to celestial bodies and the sublime,” he wrote in a statement on his website. “For me, their serendipitous structural exquisiteness and their subtle and passionate arrays of colors have inspired new exploration in my photography.”

To see more of James Friedman’s work, visit the photographer’s official website and Instagram.

 

 



Art

Everyday People Animated into Bizarre GIFs by Romain Laurent

March 30, 2019

Andrew LaSane

French director and photographer Romain Laurent (previously) turns imagery from expressly planned still and video shoots into animated GIFs where only an isolated section is in motion. Focusing primarily on human subjects and the spaces around them, the looped compositions turn everyday scenes into surreal animations that you can’t help but to watch over and over. In one, a silhouetted subject has fiery sparklers for eyes, and in another, a rain-jacketed pedestrian’s face loops in the frame of his hood.

Separate from his commercial work, Laurent tells Colossal that his once weekly project has become more selective over the past two years in terms of the concepts and ideas that he translates into GIFs. “Other than that the approach is the same—find an idea and movement that amuses or speaks to me and make it right away!” Each GIF is unique, and depending on the complexity of the concept, Laurent can spend anywhere from 15 minutes to two hours capturing the photos before manipulating them in post-production for an hour or several days. To see more of Romain Laurent’s quirky partially-moving portraits, check out his Tumblr and follow him on Instagram.

 

 



Craft

Balloon Birds by Terry Cook Mimic Their Real-Life Counterparts

March 1, 2019

Laura Staugaitis

Passing up the typical party tricks of dogs, flowers, and hats, Terry Cook riffs on classic balloon-twisting shapes with his avian creations. After modeling herons, blue tits, mallards, and other European birds, Cook completes the picture by staging and photographing each animal in its natural setting. The artist makes a point of explaining on his website that he carefully removes and deflates all balloons after his photo shoots as to not leave latex debris in the natural world. In addition to his balloon birds, Cook also works with watercolor, acrylic, ink, and even robotics. You can see more of the Aberdeen, Scotland-based artist’s in-progress and finished projects on Instagram. (via Colossal Submissions)

 

 



Photography

50,000 Photographs Combine to Form a Detailed Image of the Moon and Stars

February 23, 2019

Andrew LaSane

Photographer Andrew McCarthy has transformed 50,000 individual images of the night sky into one very large and detailed photo of the moon. Every crater and lunar mare on the “light” side looks like it was shot from within the natural satellite’s orbit, when the image was actually created from a telescope and two camera setup 239,000 miles away in Sacramento, California.

McCarthy shares that his interest in the cosmos began as a kid when his father showed him the planets through his telescope, but it was a free telescope from Craigslist a few years ago that reignited his love and got him into astrophotography. His process involves focusing and refocusing on bright stars, taking photos in stacks at different exposure lengths, and switching between an astronomy camera and a Sony a7 II with a 300mm lens. He then loads the stacks into Photoshop and uses special software (and a manual process of duplicating, flipping, subtracting, and editing) to align and adjust the images to create the final product. “I’d love a new vantage, as the view from Sacramento is a bit far,” McCarthy tells Colossal. “If given the chance, I would love to be the first professional astrophotographer to image the Earth from the lunar surface.”

To see the full-sized image click a cropped version below, and to order prints of this or any of Andrew McCarthy’s astrophotography, visit his online store. (via PetaPixel)

Image: Andrew McCarthy (cropped for detail)

 

 



Photography

Winners and Honorable Mentions of the 2018 National Geographic Photography Competition

December 11, 2018

Andrew LaSane

Grand Prize & 1st Place (Places). Photograph and caption by Jassen Todorov / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. Thousands of Volkswagen and Audi cars sit idle in the middle of California’s Mojave Desert. Models manufactured from 2009 to 2015 were designed to cheat emissions tests mandated by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Following the scandal, Volkswagen recalled millions of cars. By capturing scenes like this one, I hope we will all become more conscious of and more caring toward our beautiful planet.

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.

1st Place (People). Photograph and caption by Mia Collis / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. I was looking to do a series of portraits showing people wearing their Sunday best when I made this photo of David Muyochokera. It was taken on his last Sunday working as a photographer at Weekend Studio, in Kibera—a large shantytown in Nairobi, Kenya. My friend Peter, a local resident, had pointed me to the photo studio just as I was about to leave the area. It was a stunning space, with whimsical backdrops and natural light coming through the doorway. David had worked there for 37 years, but Weekend Studio was about to close permanently. Phone cameras were so common now, he said, and fewer people wanted studio portraits. David planned to retire and return home to the countryside. I was troubled by the studio’s imminent closure, so I eventually took over the rent. A portrait of David now hangs at Weekend Studio in his memory.

2nd Place (People). Photograph and caption by Todd Kennedy / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. On a family holiday driving from Sydney to Uluru, we stopped at a roadside motel in the small rural township of Nyngan, on the edge of Australia’s outback. The area is in the wheat belt, and it was unusually hot for that time of year—over a hundred degrees Fahrenheit and very dusty. Our daughter, Genie, is seen here enjoying a refreshing bath in a rubber ducky perched on the sink.

3rd Place (People). Photograph and caption by Avishek Das / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. A Hindu devotee kisses his newborn baby during the Charak Puja festival in West Bengal, India. Traditional practice calls for the devotee to be pierced with a hook and sometimes swung from a rope. This painful sacrifice is enacted to save their children from anxiety. While covering the festival, I was able to view the religious practice from the perspective of Hindu devotees. I tried to capture the moment of love and bonding between a father and his child—and show a father’s concern for his little son.

2nd Place (Places). Photograph and caption by Nicholas Moir / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. A rusting Ford Thunderbird is blanketed by red dust from a supercell thunderstorm in Ralls, Texas. The dry, plowed fields of the Texas Panhandle made easy prey for the storm, which had winds over 90 miles an hour ripping up the topsoil and depositing it farther south. I was forecasting and positioning a team of videographers and photographers on a storm chase in Tornado Alley—this was our last day of a very successful chase, having witnessed 16 tornadoes over 10 days. The target area for a storm initiation was just south of Amarillo, Texas. Once the storm became a supercell, it moved southbound with outflow winds that were easily strong enough to tear up the topsoil and send it into the air.

3rd Place (Places). Photograph and caption by Christian Werner / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. While on assignment for Der Spiegel, we made a road trip through Syria to document the current situation in major cities. When I first entered the Khalidiya district in Homs, I was shocked. I hadn’t seen such large-scale destruction before, and I had been to many destroyed cities. The area around the Khalidiya district was extremely quiet. No city sounds, cars—nothing. Only the chirping of swallows and the wind. We walked down the streets of Khalidiya, but the destruction was so large scale that you couldn’t have the big picture from the point of view on the street—you could only manage it with a view from above. To make this image, I asked a Syrian soldier in charge of the area if I could climb onto a ruin. The soldier agreed, allowing me to climb at my own risk. I climbed up the ruins of a former house—which was full of improvised explosive devices—and took the picture. I was very lucky to take the picture when I was on the rooftop. Without any sign of life, it would have been a dead picture. I can recall the memory vividly.

Honorable mention (Places). Photograph and caption by Rucca Y Ito / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. Japan’s Blue Pond in Biei-cho, Hokkaido, has become very famous for attracting tourists from around the world. It is surrounded by beautiful mountains and trees. This pond, frozen during winter, was artificially made to prevent river contamination from the nearby active volcano, Mount Tokachi. The accumulated pond water contains high levels of minerals, such as those containing aluminum. The alluring view of the blue pond can take one’s breath away. To make this image, I made the exposure longer to capture the way the snow was falling. At the same time, I lit up the strobe for a moment to capture the snowflakes that are reflecting in the foreground. I took as many photos as I could and chose the one I thought had the best balance of the falling snow and the unfocused snowflakes. I wanted to express how time is created in just one moment and, by tying together these moments, history is made.

1st Place (Wildlife). Photograph and caption by Pim Volkers / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. It was early morning when I saw the wildebeests crossing Tanzania’s Mara River. The layering of dust, shade, and sun over the chaos of wildebeests kicking up water gives this picture a sense of mystique and allure. It’s almost like an old painting—I’m still compelled to search the detail of the image to absorb the unreal scene.

2nd Place (Wildlife). Photograph and caption by Jonas Beyer / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. A few miles from Qaanaaq (Thule), Greenland, I was on a hike in search of musk oxen when I came upon a group of them. This ox was running on a hillside in deep snow, which exploded underneath it—an amazing sight. The photo came together in a few seconds. I was lucky enough to be at the right spot to observe them frolicking, and then I had the incredible experience of watching them closely for about an hour. I love photographing musk oxen against the wintry landscape: They’re extremely tough Arctic survivors. This photo shows their beauty and their power—and the snow they deal with for about eight months of the year.

3rd Place (Wildlife). Photograph and caption by Alison Langevad / 2018 National Geographic Photo Contest. As the late-night hours ticked by and my eyelids grew heavy, two southern white rhinoceroses appeared silently from the shadows to drink from a watering hole in South Africa’s Zimanga Game Reserve. On alert, they stood back to back, observing their surroundings before lowering their heads. I felt privileged to share this moment with these endangered animals. While I was well prepared technically, with my camera set correctly on a tripod, I underestimated the emotional impact the magnificent beasts would have on me. I had photographed them months earlier, and now both rhinos sported a new look: They had been dehorned to deter poachers. I had heard about this development but had not yet seen them. I was full of emotion—and horror—that poaching had such a devastating effect. It must have been a hard decision to dehorn their rhinos, and I am grateful for the reserve’s efforts.

 

 

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