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2022 Close-up Photographer of the Year

Nature’s diversity is captured in minuscule detail in the 2022 Close-up Photographer of the Year Competition.

 

 

Among the winning images of the Close-Up Photographer of the Year contest, frilly slime mold stems from leaves, elegant insects splay colourful wings, and microscopic patterns create vivid abstractions. Now in its fourth year, the competition attracted more than 9,000 entries from 54 countries.

 

The overall winner of this year’s competition was captured by Samantha Stephens and glimpses two tiny amphibians trapped inside a carnivorous plant. She explains, “Typically, these plants feast on invertebrates such as moths and flies, but recently, researchers at the Algonquin Wildlife Research Station discovered a surprising new item on the plant’s menu: juvenile Spotted Salamanders (Ambystoma maculatum).” It was a timely capture; by the following day, the creatures had sunk to the bottom of the pitcher.

 

Visit the contest’s website to view the Top 100 photographs of the year.

 

 

 

Kate Mothes for ThisisColossal.com. January 2023.

 

Unusual Christmas trees

Imaginative and unusual Christmas trees

 

 

To celebrate the Christmas holidays, we’ve selected some creative Christmas tree designs from the Dezeen archive, including a tree trapped inside a giant ice cube and an upside-down tree.

 

The roundup also includes a tree suspended upside-down from the ceiling and an exhibition in a country home of unconventional Christmas tree designs.

 

 

Amy Peacock, by Dezeen. December 2022

 

Swimmers and loungers texture two Florida beaches

In Tom Hegen’s aerial photos, swimmers and loungers texture two Florida beaches with colourful patterns.

 

 

As much of the northern hemisphere braces for grey, wintery weather, photographer Tom Hegen highlights the warm, vibrant oceanside of Florida’s Siesta Key and Miami beaches.

 

Swimmers and sunbathers escaping the rays under colourful umbrellas line the coast and appear as textured, geometric shapes dotting the water and white sandy expanses. The Beach Series juxtaposes the haphazard with the organized, documenting both neat rows of uniform loungers and clusters of people as they congregate along the shoreline.

 

 

Grace Ebert on ThisisColossal.com. December 2022.

All images © Tom Hegen.

 

 

California farmland

Precise aerial photos by Mitch Rouse document the immaculate patterns of California farmland

 

 

Captured above Kern County, California, a collection of aerial photos by Mitch Rouse highlights the vibrant precision of American farmland.

 

The striking images frame segments of fields and groves that juxtapose the exactitude of large-scale production with organic growth. Long, rainbow-like rows of botanic, a single pink tree among an orchard of yellow, and repeating squares of dried vegetation transform the agricultural topographies into textured tapestries bursting with colour.

 

 

Grace Ebert on ThisisColossal.com. December 2022.

All images © Mitch Rouse.

Raptors in flight

Raptors in flight: Striking Portraits by Mark Harvey frame Birds of Prey on the hunt

 

 

Following his portraits of acrobatic birds performing a series of stunts, photographer Mark Harvey turns his focus to the larger, more powerful creatures of the avian species.

 

The new collection titled ”Raptors in Flight”, centres on birds of prey and their graceful movements while on the hunt. Whether framing a barn owl diving to the ground or a harries hawk splaying its wings, each of the images highlights the raptors’ unique physical features, making the individual details of their feathers, curved beaks, and eyes visible.

 

Shot with his signature style that applies a hearty dose of drama to the already striking creatures, the photos are shot one at a time in a slow, medium format. “Lighting is a key aspect of my work to help draw out fresh views of well-known subjects, and these birds are no exception, set within an intricate lighting setup to ultimately show the birds in a new light,” Harvey shares.

 

“With their wings spread wide, these top avian predators’ beauty is put on full display.”

 

 

 

Grace Ebert on ThisisColossal.com, September 2021

Salt extractions sites turn landscapes into vivid tapestries

Salt extractions sites turn landscapes into vivid tapestries in Tom Hegen’s aerial photos

 

 

Since 2018, German photographer Tom Hegen has been soaring above regions from western Australia and Senegal to France and Spain as he documents the vivid landscapes of salt production. His mesmerizing aerial images peer down at evaporation ponds that carve the earth into a patchwork of vibrant hues. “What attracted me was the graphic and abstract appearance of these landscapes, which almost has a painterly quality.

 

This is also the core feature that aerial photography has to offer: an unfamiliar few at ordinary things that surround us,” Hegen shares about the project.

 

Spanning nearly 300 pages, a forthcoming book titled Salt Works compiles more than 160 images from the series. Although their footprints vary widely, many of the areas spotlighted approach extraction in a similar manner: Harvesters often route seawater into these fields or small pockets of land, and the sun and wind help evaporate the liquid, leaving the crystalline minerals behind. Micro bacteria tint the salt into striking pastures of rose, aqua, and ochre, transforming the areas into rich tapestries of colour.

 

 

Grace Ebert, ThisisColossal. November 2022.

Quirky clothesline creatures saunter across landscape illusions

Quirky clothesline creatures saunter across Helga Stentzel’s landscape illusions

 

 

A woolly sweater returns to its material roots in the latest creatures to spring from Helga Stentzel’s clothesline menagerie. The London-based artist captivated audiences last year with her whimsically strung farm animals that appeared to put old shirts and jackets out to pasture.

 

Now, Stentzel’s collection of characters includes a dinosaur of bleached white undergarments, a sweatpants camel, and the aforementioned sweater sheep. Positioned against expansive views of deserts and mountainous areas, the stylish illusions take a playful approach to laundry day.

 

Alongside these creatures, Stentzel has been creating 3D works, some of which are on view from November 18, 2022, to March 1, 2023, at CXC Art Museum in Seoul.

 

 

 

Grace Ebert, ThisisColossal. November 2022.

All images © Helga Stentzel

 

Moss drapes from trees in ethereal photographs

Moss drapes from trees in ethereal photographs of England’s forests by Neil Burnell

 

 

England has long been a haven for rich woodlands of oak, birch, hazel, and pine, chronicled in famous stories like Robin Hood’s Sherwood Forest or the real-life 11th century king William the Conqueror, who established a “Forest Law” that claimed woodlands as hunting grounds for kings.

 

In the 19th and 20th centuries, native forests were increasingly transformed into pasture for grazing livestock, replaced with modern developments, or re-planted with commercial timber. The remarkable atmosphere of Dartmoor’s forests are captured by Devon-based photographer Neil Burnell, who focuses on the mystical, otherworldly environments through all four seasons.

 

Burnell was inspired as a child by a visit to Wistman’s Wood, a remote, upland area of old, gnarled oak. “Little was I to know the lasting impression this would leave me with as a young lad, as I find myself re-imagining how I felt, and how I could spread this awe and wonder through my passion for photography,” he explains. Although Dartmoor National Park currently advises that visitors avoid walking through Wistman’s Wood to allow it to heal from damage caused during lockdowns, Burnell’s images offer a glimpse of moss-coated limbs and fern-covered forest floors that seem to freeze time. He also visits dense stands of conifers, with canopies that create dreamlike effects as they block the sunlight from reaching the ground below.

 

Burnell often teaches workshops around Southwest England that focus on nature and landscape photography, which you can learn more about on his website.

 

 

 

Kate Mothes, ThisisColossal. November 2022.

All images © Neil Burnell.

 

Exquisite architectural photos glimpse life in late ‘90s Cuba

Exquisite architectural photos by Andrew Moore glimpse life in late ‘90s Cuba

 

 

Between September 1998 and January 2001, Andrew Moore travelled around Cuba meeting residents and photographing them among their built environments. He snapped more than 700 8 x 10 colour negatives during that period, producing a staggering visual record of a particular moment in the country’s history primarily shown through its architecture.

 

Through Moore’s lens, Cuba’s palatial residences and generally lavish interiors with marble and gilded detailsare shown tinged with decay: Paint peels from a ceiling to reveal structural wooden slats, broken windows are left in disrepair, and mismatched outdoor seating and modern appliances become out-of-place furnishings in once opulent rooms.

 

Shot mostly in urban metropolises, the alluring images are evidence of architecture’s power to both respond to and produce a community’s way of life. Havana, Moore shares with Colossal, is built vertically, with tile roofs, high ceilings, and tall windows that encircle central courtyards and offer relief from the fierce heat and sun. “The daylight is generally hard and creates deep shadows, while by night, which falls quickly, the city is quite dark with little by way of street lighting,” he says. Outdoor walls bleach over time from the sun, and verdant foliage and plant life grow in lush tufts from window boxes and landscaped villas.

 

Many of the buildings Moore photographed were constructed before air-conditioning was ubiquitous and at the time, hadn’t undergone significant updates. During his visit—Cuba and its residents were notably experiencing the effects of U.S. embargos between 1998 and 2001—this resulted in dozens of residents living together in a structure designed for single families. He explains:

 

These domestic clusters are known as solars. Given these crowded living conditions, and the tropical climate, Havana can seem like a city inside out: in their extraordinary activity, the overflowing streets remind one of a vast living room. Thus, it became of particular importance to me to depict the architectural fabric of this unique city and country within the context of its people.

 

Residents, while often seen in the distance of the frame, add intimacy and humanity to the series. Along with assistants Ondrej Kubicek, Laurence Dutton, Kevin Fletcher, and Bart Michels, Moore interacted with locals and heard stories about their lives, which were translated by his friend Paquito Vives, while producing the collection. “All of us learned about the city by walking its streets, by knocking on doors, and through talking with the residents about the history of their city,” he shares. “People would frequently complain about the condition of their houses, but they were always friendly and most freely invited us into their homes for a small coffee and long conversations.”

 

Professionally for Moore, this staggering body of work was his first chance to gather “colour harmony, natural light, deep and shallow space, narrative detail, cultural history, and the human figure” within a single image. It was inspired by Julius Schulman’s photos of Mid-Century Modern architecture and the way people configure within a space, a concern that’s visible throughout his extensive archive of locales in Russia and Ukraine, New York, and Detroit.

 

 

ThisisColossal, Grace Ebert. January 2022.

All images © Andrew Moore

 

Explosive photos by Ray Collins capture the ocean’s mercurial nature

Explosive photos by Ray Collins capture the ocean’s mercurial nature as it erupts in extravagant bursts

 

  

Ever fickle, the ocean and all its excitable energy provide endless fodder for Ray Collins. The Australian photographer, who is based in Wollongong, is known for his dramatic images that capture the diversity of textures and forms that emerge from the water.

 

Waves undulate into scaly walls, fine mists erupt in the air, and surges turn in on themselves, creating eerie, patterned tunnels. Each image emphasizes the capricious nature of the water, which Collins shares as the impetus for his practice.

 

“I’m fortunate that my subject, the ocean, is never the same. There are always new emotions and feelings to capture. As long as I show up with a blank slate, I will find new and beautiful moments,” he says.

 

 

Thisiscolossal.com, Grace Ebert. September 2022. All images © Ray Collins