birds

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Photography

Veiled in Grainy Blue, Cyanotypes by Deborah Parkin Center on a Flock of Jackdaws

February 3, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Deborah Parkin, shared with permission

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.

 

 

 



Photography

Photographic Composites Document the Mesmerizing Flight Trails of Vultures, Crows, and Bats

February 2, 2022

Grace Ebert

“Lockdown Vultures (Moab Mesa).” All images © Doris Mitsch, shared with permission

In Locked Down Looking Up, Bay Area photographer Doris Mitsch captures the swirling, shapeshifting flight patterns of birds and other winged creatures: a flock of vultures creates coils and whirls between rugged mesas, crows descend toward a forest in single-file trails, and gulls congregate above the sea in lengthy lines.

The ongoing project began early in 2020 when Mitsch set up a camera outside her front door and shot consecutive images of birds flying around her home. “While everything in my life has come to a standstill, up in the air, there is still a lot going on,” she writes. She’s since traveled along the California coast and to Moab’s desert landscapes capturing similar swarming phenomena featuring vultures, gulls, and crows.

Mitsch’s composites vary in length of time, number of birds, and total images combined, which ranges from 500 to 5,000. “One of my favorites, ‘Lockdown Vulture (Signature)’ shows just one vulture making slow circles over the course of about a minute,” Mitsch tells Colossal. “My other favorite, ‘Lockdown Vultures (Moab Mesa)’ shows about five minutes’ worth of 25 or so birds circling together.”

In addition to this series, Mitsch also shot a collection devoted to starlings’ murmurations, which you can see on her site. You might enjoy this bird-shaped swarm, too. (via swissmiss)

 

“Lockdown Vulture (Signature)”

“Lockdown Vultures (Moab Slope)”

“Lockdown Swallows (Hunting)”

“Lockdown Crows (Evening Commute)”

“Lockdown Crows (One Tree)”

“Lockdown Bats (Pas de Deux)”

“Lockdown Gulls (Sea Ranch)”

 

 



Craft

Learn to Paint Magical Scenes in Thread in a New Book by Embroidery Artist Emillie Ferris

January 13, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Emillie Ferris, courtesy of David & Charles, shared with permission

U.K.-based artist Emillie Ferris (previously) has spent nearly a decade refining her distinct embroidery technique, which involves staggering long and short stitches to create textured portrayals of flora and fauna. She’s crafted magical butterflies in smooth gradients, bees that appear as fuzzy as their real-life counterparts, and a variety of realistic portraits that use sweeping, layered passes associated with brushstrokes to render images in fiber.

Now her work culminates in a forthcoming book published by David & Charles titled Paint with Thread: A Step-By-Step Guide to Embroidery Through the Seasons. The how-to volume contains instructions for creating five projects shown here, in addition to tips and tricks from the artist, and is available for pre-order on Bookshop. In the meantime, shop more of Ferris’s tutorials and patterns on Etsy.

 

 

 



Illustration Science

In 'Wild Design,' Vintage Illustrations Expose the Patterns and Shapes Behind All Life on Earth

January 5, 2022

Grace Ebert

Ernst Haeckel, Kunstformen der Natur, 1904. Gotha: Bibliographisches Institut. All images from Wild Design: Nature’s Architects by Kimberly Ridley, published by Princeton Architectural Press, shared with permission of the publisher

Focusing on the patterns and shapes that structure the planet, a new book published by Princeton Architectural Press explores the science behind a trove of organically occurring forms. Wild Design: Nature’s Architects by author Kimberly Ridley pairs dozens of vintage illustrations—spot the work of famed German biologist Ernst Haeckel (previously) among them—with essays detailing the function of the striking phenomena, from the smallest organisms to the monumental foundations that extend across vast swaths of land. These structures are simultaneously beautiful and crucial to life on Earth and include the sprawling mycelium networks connecting life above and below ground, the papery, hexagonal cells comprising honeycomb, and a spider’s funnel-like web tailored to trap its prey. Dive further into the world of Wild Design by picking up a copy from Bookshop.

 

(Johann Andreas Naumann, Naturgeschichte der Vögel Deutschlands, 1820. Leipzig: G. Fleischer

Ernst Haeckel, Kunstformen der Natur, 1904. Gotha: Bibliographisches Institut

Berthold Seemann, Journal of Botany, 1863. London: R. Hardwicke

Henry C. McCook, American Spiders and Their Spinning Work, 1889. Philadelphia: Academy of Natural Science of Philadelphia

 

Henri de Saussure, Études sur la famille des vespides, 1852. Paris: V. Masson

Oliver B. Bunce and William C. Cullen, Picturesque America, 1872. New York: D. Appleton

 

 



Art

Absurdly Flexible Chicks Lunge, Twist, and Stretch into Perfect Yoga Poses

December 10, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Lucia Heffernan, shared with permission

Calm, flexible, and undeniably adorable, Lucia Heffernan’s brood of chicks would likely be the star students of any yoga class. The fluffy creatures curl into backends, contort into triangles, and stretch their feathered little bodies into warriors and dancers in perfect alignment. Heffernan is showing the lunging and twisting characters through December 15 at CODA Gallery in Palm Desert, California, and even though all originals are sold, you can still shop prints on Etsy and see the entire troupe on Instagram. You also might enjoy Bruno Pontiroli’s backache-inducing wildlife.

 

 

 



Art

Cut from Found Feathers, Minuscule Silhouettes Become Intricate Symbolic Works

December 3, 2021

Grace Ebert

“Gull Flight” All images © Chris Maynard, shared with permission

Equipped with surgical knives and scissors, artist Chris Maynard (previously) carefully slices exquisite silhouettes of birds, people, and tiny stars from individual feathers. He cuts the naturally shed materials, which come from private aviaries and zoos, into metaphorical scenes of change and transformation: figures hatch from eggs, a flock of seagulls flies into a perfectly round arc, and still developing chicks nestle into the barbs. “Feathers are symbols of our aspirations,” the artist tells Colossal. “Like a lot of us, I want to fly but I can’t, so I use feathers to try to capture an essence of flight.”

To see how Maynard extracts such intricate shapes, head to his Instagram where he shares more about his process and a variety of recent works.

 

“Journey”

“Acorn Woodpecker”

Top: “Worm Food.” Bottom left: “Entwine.” Bottom right: “Goodbye”

“Undulation Reflection”

“Another Creation Story”

“Embryo III Flight Training”