Stunning Photographs Prove That Bees Are Beautiful

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In the past years, bee populations have been devastated by something scientists are calling Colony Collapse Disorder, causing a global crisis for humans and other animals. Sam Dreoge, a biologist at U.S. Geological Survey’s Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, catalogs hundreds of bee species in his lab. As the head of the USGS Bee Inventory and Monitoring Lab, Dreoge produces stunning high-resolution images that capture the diversity and spellbinding beauty the fascinating and helpful little creatures.

Dreoge’s photographs, which are used to identify and track bee populations, are often magnified up to five times the actual size of the insect. Focusing on minuscule details normally only visible under a microscope, most of the pieces are composites of numerous images, shot at multiple ranges with a 60 millimeter macro lens. Each image is also carefully edited, scrubbed of specks of dust. In preparation for the photo shoots, each bee specimen undergoes a bath in warm water and dish soap, after which they are carefully blow-dried to showcase their astoundingly beautiful, vibrant hair.

Dreoge’s images of bees read like the technological age’s answer to Leonardo da Vinci, who studied and sometimes killed insect specimens for the dual purpose of art and science. Research like this always raises ethical flags, but that moral question becomes more complicated when we are confronted with environmental crises like CCD. Bee populations are effected by parasites as well as problems caused by humans, like pesticides and climate change; it’s imperative that we find a way to save these miraculous animals, and Dreoge’s work could go a long way. What do you think? (via Smithsonian and Colossal)
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11-Year-Old Prodigy Draws Astounding Natural Scenes

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In his first eleven years of life, the Serbian artist Dušan Krtolica has already exhibited his drawings at two nation-wide solo shows. He began his drawing career at two-years-old, displaying an astounding visual ability; since then, the prodigy has focussed his efforts on depicting wildlife and natural worlds, both existing and extinct. As with the notebooks of Renaissance master Leonardo da Vinci, Krtolica’s pages are filled to their edges with rich anatomical and zoological studies. Though passionate about drawing, the fifth-grader hopes someday to pursue his passion for animals by becoming a zoologist.

Krtolica’s drawings magically marry a childlike sense of wonder with a more seasoned visual precision; though startlingly detailed and studiously seen, his work maintains a frenetic and unabashed curiosity. His ocean floors and vast jungles are seemingly blessed with creatures of different periods, as if more mature and evolved animals could intermingle with primordial beasts. The bodies of animals overlap in the midst of a wonderful chaos, and an armed knight is envisioned with the same degree of specificity as a tiny beetle.

Though powerfully scientific and unfalteringly observant, Krtolica’s images contain within their borders an ineffable quality of life and vitality, as seen through the rubbing of hybrid wings, the weaving of a spider web. The artist possesses both the awe-filled eye of a child and the technical ability to render his imaginings on paper, and that is a truly magical combination indeed. Take a look. (via Demilked)
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1600 Endangered Panda Bears Take Over Our Cities In Poignant Installation

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The group 1,600 of exquisitely crafted papier-mâché panda bears have already travelled to and occupied cities like Paris, Berlin, Rome, and TaiPei; next month, they will overtake ten Hong Kong historical landmarks and tourist sites. As part of the Pandas on Tour project, these cuddly creatures are crafted from recycled materials by the French artist Paulo Grangeon in collaboration with the World Wildlife Fund, PMQ, and All Rights Reserved. Each sculpture has an important statement to make: there are less than 1,600 pandas living in the wild. Grangeon’s small creatures, with their wide eyes and round bodies, are easily be displayed side-by-side, providing a halting vision of the endangered species.

Human forces have forced the panda bears in a state of emergency; mining, tourism, and global warming have all contributed to the distraction of animal habitat in Chinese forests. Wild panda conservation is crucial, as the animals can rarely be convinced to mate in captivity.

Believe it or not, humans have a biological impetus for wanting to protect the species. Pandas have proven to be the most beloved animal for their resemblance to human babies; they too have wide eyes and their paws contain a “pseudo thumb.” Grangeon’s touching creatures are imbued with the tender hearts we recognize in the animals they represent. With poignantly cartoonish eyes, round ears, and emotive facial expressions, the papier-mâché figures inspire a whole lot of empathy. To learn how you can help the panda bears, visit WWF or the Smithsonian’s Giant Panda Conservation Fund. (via HuffPost, Time, and Design Boom)
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Charlotte Dumas’ Unforgettable Photographs Of Mysterious Burial Horses Will Stay With You

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At the grave of a fallen soldier stands a pale white horse, regal and majestic, with his mane in tight braids. In Anima, the photographer Charlotte Dumas delves into the quiet moments in the lives of burial horses, known for participating in the funeral ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery. The magnificent equine creatures— who by day serve as living manifestations of moral ideals, patriotism, and righteousness— are caught by Dumas’s lens in nighttime moments of introspection and rest.

After the flags are folded, after the firearms have rang out, the horses remain in their small box stalls, resting on humble beds of shavings and hay. Shot under Dumas’s gleaming twilight lighting, the animals are pictured in the final minutes before sleep. In stark contrast with the colorful visions of their burial services, they are bathed in a moody Rembrandt-esque glow that streams in from metal bars, seemingly retreating into an unknowable equine psychology.

Yet within these peaceful moments, Dumas captures an anxious sense of unrest. A horse’s glinting black eye remains open as he twists his neck, revealing waves of muscle under short-clipped fur; a long nose, its hair worn away by a bridle’s noseband, pokes out into the light, emerging from sleepy darkness. The neck and back of the creature is fixed in the frame, isolated from the rest of the body, as he goes to stand upright, his withers stained with manure.

The horses range in age: some wear the grey fur of youth, while others are pure flea-bitten white. Seen here, it is as though the horses cannot escape the atmosphere of the cemetery, confined within their dark stalls forever by some invisible knowledge of death. Take a look.
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Erika Sanada’s Grotesque Yet Poignant Creatures Give Face To A Child’s Fears

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Erika Sanada’s imaginary creatures toe the line between the grotesque and the adorable; inspired by her childhood trauma and memories of bullying, the artist delves into her deepest anxieties, plucking out tiny hairless ceramic beasts, each of whom appears strangely misshapen by a nervous sort of womb. As a girl, Sanada imagined transforming her tormenters into hideous monsters, presented here as birds and rats with twin heads or dogs that display infinite rows of glinting teeth.

As if stolen from a perverse Eden, Sanada’s endearing beasts are as innocent as they are frightful. “Newborns” introduces a trinity of puppy-rat hybrids, who, despite their sharp claws and thick, bald tails, elicit our sympathies; their soft, tender eyes have yet to open, and the tiniest of baby tongues pokes out of a toothless mouth. Similarly, a hairless beast crawls across a platform, leaving a trail of sticky epoxy that resembles amniotic fluid. He has two tails, each fleshy and naked, and yet he is so poignantly small and delicate that we yearn to comfort and protect him as he makes a perilous journey into the adult world.

As if possessed, Sanada’s cast of characters, whom she charmingly refers to as “Odd Things,” reveal black marble-white eyes, absent of pupils or irises, the effect of which is wonderfully unsettling. As we confront these magical manifestations of our most secret fears, they stare back invisibly, tracking us not with sight but with an intractable knowledge of our own vulnerabilities. Take a look. (via KoiKoiKoi)
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Andrea Minini’s Minimally Elegant Animal Illustrations

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The work of Milanese graphic designer Andrea Minini has a tendency to make the most with the least. His recent Animals in Moiré series has gotten a fair amount of internet attention, due to the striking Moiré pattern - visual interference caused by overlapping lines in different densities –  often associated with television screens (seen previously in the photographic works of Stephan Tillmans).

Using Adobe Illustrator, Minini’s elegant lines are collected and create stark and moody black and white animals. Its not just an interesting stylistic choice, but each design is enhanced by his strong graphic sensibilities. Seeing the potential for slithering lines to form together in creation of a snake is one thing, but understanding the form so as to subtly create a colony (or cloud as they are also referred to in groups) of sleeping bats is an intelligent, innate choice.  (via colossal)

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Emotional Portraits Of Black Dogs Who Are Often Left Out Of Adoption

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Dogs of all shapes and sizes have hearts of gold, and yet it’s said that black dogs are routinely ignored and denied adoption based on the color of their silky fur. The photographer Fred Levy hopes to shatter negative stereotypes about the dark hued animals, perpetuated throughout our culture perhaps by the ominous depictions of the creatures in media, with the Black Dog Project. Capturing furry friends ranging in age and experience, the artist pins his regal subjects against a black backdrop, narrating a poignant story of canine love and courage.

Set against the soft darkness behind them, the animals appear lonesome and curious. Presumably told to sit for the shot, they cock their heads, let drop their downy ears, and look to the viewer for approval. The moving, miraculous tension in the animals’ bodies recalls the ever-willing canine anticipation the blessed “come,” a nod of recognition, an offer of affection, a release from being alone.

Levy’s stunning lighting records the nuances of the black fur, celebrating the shade that is so often overlooked; the silky stands catch the light in such a way that haloes their faces, gives heavenly, royal meaning to their curved backs and furrowed brows. Levy maintains each subject’s rich personality; the wizened senior Faith perks up her ears, and the therapy dog Max patiently holds our gaze with intent amber eyes.

Says Levy of the project, “I’ve found that it’s really important to share the idea that there are always so many dogs in need of a good safe home, regardless of what the dog looks like […] Maybe someone will see this and consider the gravity of owning a pet, no matter what color it is.” To learn more about the Black Dogs Project, check here, and take a look at some of the enchanting photos below. (via Huffington Post and Design Taxi)
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The Secret Garden Of Snails Is Filled With Slimey Wonder

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The photographer Vyacheslav Mishchenko spent much of his childhood in nature; following his father on mushroom hunting expeditions, he often crouched to the ground in rapt fascination with the tiny, slimy, and colorful wonderland of bugs. As an adult, he returns to this kingdom of imagination, cataloguing the daily lives of snails.

Breaking from the objectivity of traditional nature photography, Mishchenko’s soulful images read like a children’s storybook, filled with unexpected emotionality and suspense. The expertly-shot macro images frame the miniature snail landscapes in miraculous detail, seducing viewers into a world of Alice In Wonderland mushrooms and plump fruits. Shot from the vantage-point of teensy, unsuspecting creatures, the world seems vast and dazzlingly fertile.

The delicate creatures, seen so vividly, become startlingly powerful, their muscular bodies twisting and writhing around newly-budding stems. In this strange and enchanting visual narrative, snails become lovers who gently kiss, seemingly forming one long, sticky body in their embrace. They curiously extend towards succulent forbidden fruits that drip with raindrops; as if in some natural Eden, they hide their bodies in fantastic shells.

Reflected many times over in perfectly rounded dewdrops and in the artist’s own lens, the snails seem to verge on the point of self-awareneness. As if to evoke the metaphor applied to Helena and Hermia, the young heroines of Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, two snails arch their bodies over twin cherries, ripe and red. It’s miraculous what goes on beneath our feet, and I cannot think of  better set of images to get us in the mood for spring. (via BUST)
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