When Cape Town-based photographer Dillon Marsh learned about the commercial copper mines near Springbok, South Africa, he decided to document the remains of the excavation sites. “The first of these mines was established in 1852, and back then the digging was done by hand. The extracted copper ore was then transported by ox wagons to the coast 140 kilometers away, and from there, it was shipped to England to be processed,” he tells Colossal.
This curiosity sparked his CGI series titled For What It’s Worth, which positions metallic orbs representative of the amount of material extracted within the original mines. The striking juxtapositions are profound visual indictments of how uncovering and selling precious metals like copper, gold, and platinum and stones like diamonds have consistently been prioritized over the health of the land. “My feelings have consistently and rapidly fluctuated between a sense of awe for what was gained and a sense of sadness for what it cost,” Marsh shares.
Framing many of the locations as scars in the earth, the images show 4.1 million tons of copper semi-buried in the steep gash of the Palabora Mine and 335 million troy ounces resting on the now-converted Free State Gold Field. The 7.6 million carats of diamonds pulled from Koffiefontein is so minuscule in comparison to the gaping hole required to obtain it that it’s barely visible without magnification.
Marsh is considering continuing For What It’s Worth at mines in other parts of the world, and you can see the blighted sites already in the collection on his site and Instagram. (via This Isn’t Happiness)
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I'm Not a Look-Alike: Hundreds of Unrelated Doppelgängers Sit for François Brunelle's Uncanny Portraits
Do we all have a double? Montréal-based photographer François Brunelle has been intrigued by that question since he began his I’m Not a Look-Alike series back in 1999, which brings together two unrelated people who resemble each other so much that they could be twins. He’s uncovered hundreds of doppelgängers around the world since and taken minimal, black-and-white portraits of approximately 250 pairs in 32 cities.
Brunelle’s now-massive collection is a testament to the mysterious and strange phenomenon that’s captivated humans for centuries, which has roots in paranormal lore and continues to be the subject matter of a number of horror films and sci-fi series. The search for a “twin stranger” has also prompted entire online databases dedicated to finding look-alikes through facial recognition software.
It’s this enduring fascination that’s garnered Brunelle considerable attention for the now decades-long project, which has also sparked tangential endeavors focused on finding doubles exclusively in Colombia and Spain. At the core of the series, though, is the idea that people, no matter their background, are fundamentally tethered to each other. “The face is the ultimate communication tool that we have to establish and maintain relationships between us as human beings. No wonder we are drawn to the face,” Brunelle shares.
Focused on lighting and angle, the uncanny portraits are devoid of color to highlight facial structures rather than variances in hair and skin. The subjects are not exact doubles— “A very perfect pair of look-alikes would be boring,” Brunelle says—and it’s easy to identify their similarities and differences as they pose in such close proximity. He explains:
Of course, the look-alikes are not the same. They look-alike, not much more. But then, that’s what fascinates me. That someone, out in this world is looking at himself in the mirror and seeing more or less the same thing that I am seeing in my own mirror. Which brings us down to the question: Who am I exactly? Am I what I see in my reflection or something else that cannot be defined and is invisible to the eyes, even my own?
Brunelle is currently working on a book and companion exhibition for the project, and you can follow updates on that and see more from the I’m Not a Look-Alike series on his site and Instagram. (via Kottke)
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An International Photo Competition Illuminates the Captivating and Remarkable Sights of Earth's Landscapes
From the brilliant dancing aurora of Iceland to Comet NeoWise hurtling above Mount Tamalpais, the winning shots of the 2021 International Landscape Photographer of the Year contest capture a diverse and captivating array of Earth’s topographies and phenomena. The annual competition is in its eighth year and garnered more than 4,500 entries centered on a variety of subject matter, including a mystical wood at Alcornocales Natural Park in Cadiz, the fairytale-esque flowers of France’s Vallée de la Clarée, and a wildlife fire in Yosemite National Park that appears more like a sunset on the horizon than massive blaze.
We’ve included our favorites from the 101 winners below, and you can see the entire collection on the contest’s site. For a deeper dive into the stories behind the photos, pick up a copy of the 2021 book.
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In the fall of 2018, one of Madagascar’s most sacred baobabs cleaved and crumbled. The ancient giant was estimated to be about 1,400 years old and offered food, fuel, and fiber to the region before its trunk, which spanned 90 feet around, collapsed. Known as Tsitakakoike, which means “the tree where one cannot hear the cry from the other side,” the baobab was also entwined with local lore and thought to house the ancestral spirits of nearby Masikoro people. Its loss was devastating to the community and an ominous sign of how the climate crisis is permanently damaging these centuries-old trees.
Bay Area photographer Beth Moon (previously) has been documenting the species since 2006 and traveled to the region when Tsitakakoike fell. There she captured the cracked, deteriorating emblem along with other baobabs in similar states of crisis throughout Madagascar, Senegal, and South Africa. Shot in dramatic black-and-white, the images are rich in texture and frame the baobabs’ wide, crackled trunks and branches that splay outward into massive tufted canopies.
An act of visual preservation, Moon’s photos show how the massive trees’ exposed roots sprawled across the ground, a sure sign of years-long droughts causing many to become so dehydrated they cave under their own weight. These devastating effects are common in the region, which has experienced significant water shortages and rapid reduction of the baobab population in the last few decades. Moon writes about her visit:
Astonishment and horror set in as Tsitakakoike comes into view. Half of the tree has collapsed; a portion of the sides and back of the trunk remain. Gigantic branches, larger than most trees, lay in disarray at the base of the trunk. The entire spectacle is about the size of a football field.
During her visit, Moon captured dozens of photos, which are on view now as part of an online exhibition through photo-eye Gallery and compiled in a recently released book available on Bookshop. You can see more from her travels on Instagram.
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Hamburg-based landscape photographer Jan Erik Waider (previously) climbed the Harz Mountains in northern Germany last week in search of the otherworldly figures inhabiting its highest peak. A thick coating of ice transformed the evergreens and other vegetation at Brocken, the summit at an elevation of 3,743 feet, into towering beasts and monster-like characters that appear to wander the frozen tundra. “I like the muted sounds and the seemingly endless variations of gray that come with fog,” he tells Colossal. “I can wander for hours as the winter landscape changes and recomposes itself almost every minute.” Pick up a print of Waider’s Mountain Creatures and see the rest of the series on Behance. You also might enjoy these fantastical menaces.
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Gregarious and intelligent, jackdaws are small cousins of the crow and raven with dark feathers on their crowns, tails, and wings and lighter plumage everywhere else. The feathered socialites frequent the moor near photographer Deborah Parkin’s home in the Northumberland, where she’s spent hours watching them swoop from branch to branch and perch in trees thick with foliage during a period of grief, and they eventually became the subjects of her quiet, contemplative series of cyanotypes.
The medium, which dates back to the 19th Century, uses a combination of ferric ammonium citrate, potassium ferricyanide, and UV light from the sun to create signature colored prints. Parkin tells PetaPixel she encountered the process through the work of English botanist Anna Atkins who was the first to publish a book that included photographic images of dried algae. Following in that tradition, Parkin documents the birds through a hazy wash of the pigment, saying, “in her book on the colour blue, Carol Mavor talks of blue being the colour of memory, and this felt relevant to my work.”
In addition to the jackdaw series shown here, Parkin has branched out to try the cyanotype process with tea toning rather than the two chemicals. She shares glimpses of that project and more of her photography on her site and Instagram.
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Editor's Picks: Photography
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.