Postcards For Ants

A couple of years ago I undertook my Flickr 366 project – one photo a day for a whole year.  It was more challenging than it sounds, and encouraged me to break away from photography being something I forced myself to do and instead become more observant in my everyday surroundings, noticing angles, frames and content in other ways.

Anyone that undertakes a daily, year-long project (whatever it is) I have respect and appreciation for.  Lorraine Loots has taken this notion of a daily challenge or task and really stepped it up, not just taking a photo, but creating a miniature painting every single day for a year.

The project started on 1st January 2013, but has continued well into 2014 albeit with a slightly different approach.

But then I just started thinking, what if I don’t stop…

It has transitioned from people booking sentimental dates and making suggestions for that date’s painting, to a year of Cape Town themed images that celebrate Lorraine’s home town designation as World Design Capital 2014.

Each one is intricately detailed and rather beautiful, a few of my favourites are below.

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20140208

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20140618

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There’s so many to choose from, and the likes of Team Up, Where’s WallyYashica-D, and Malachite Kingfisher all being worthy of a mention too.  Oh, ok, here’s the Kingfisher anyway.

20140811

Many hundreds more can be viewed on her Tumblr, and if you’re quick you might still be able to buy one of the originals.

 

 

 

Lego Banksy

Award-winning photographer Jeff Friesen has made quite a name for himself in his “other line of work” by using different combinations of Lego bricks and minifigures to create entirely new outcomes.

What started out as simply afternoon playtime with his daughter has evolved into The Brick Fantastic.

One particular project of his that caught my eye was his work as “Bricksy“, a Lego interpretation of the infamous artist Banksy.

bricksy2Pulp Fiction

bricksy11Sweeping It Under The Carpet

bricksy1Girl With Balloon

bricksy12Foreclosure

bricksy7Laugh Now

bricksy8Keep It Real

bricksy14Fridge Kite

bricksy13Caveman With Junkfood

bricksy15Love Deep

bricksy10Choose Your Weapon

bricksy9Naked Man

bricksy6Soldier With Spraycan

bricksy5Tightrope Rat

bricksy4Kissing Coppers

bricksy3Bouquet Grenade

In researching the images used here it had never occurred to me that as big a fan of Banksy’s work as I am, I didn’t know the proper titles of many of his works.

Seeing them written below the work makes them all the more poignant and profound particularly when you consider what the likes of “Choose Your Weapon” and “Foreclosure” really represent.

More on the website gallery here.

Colourgasm

Happy Friday everyone!

To celebrate here is Nina Geometrieva‘s Colourgasm in all of its seemingly endless glory.  Anything that has been described as “some kind of rainbow laser beam” is worthy of kicking off the weekend.

colorgasm-gif-by-nina-geometrieva

If you prefer, you can scroll down the huge 725 x 24076 pixel image on her Behance page here.

Slow Life

You might not think of coral as a particularly mobile creature of the ocean compared to the life of fish and sharks we are used to watching, but along with sponges and other “slow” marine creatures they have been brought to life in this stunning capture from Daniel Stoupin.

Under high magnification and using a fairly intense time lapse approach we can now see these animals come to life.

The most important living organisms that play the key functions in the biosphere might not seem exciting when it comes to motion. Plants, fungi, sponges, corals, plankton, and micro organisms make life on Earth possible and do all the hard biochemical job.

This is a definite must for full screen and HD viewing.
(tip: when you enter full-screen mode, click “view actual size” next to the HD icon to improve sharpness)

Each frame of the video uses between 3-12 images in a focus stacking technique to combat the shallow depth of field effect that macro photography requires.  This adds up to a staggering 150,000 shots over the 3:38 of footage.  Wow.

The footage was captured on a Canon 7D, a Canon 5D Mk III, a Canon MP-E 65mm lens, three custom spectrum lamps, Stackshot motorised stages, and, unsurprisingly, multiple computers to process the raw images and manage the focus stacking.  Software noted as Sony Vegas, Photoshop CS6, Zerene Stacker, and Helicon Focus.

Daniel reiterates that all the colours shown are real.  There is no digital enhancement, simply white balance correction as required.  Beautiful stuff.

More information on this and about the organisms in the video here, and more incredible images on his site here.

The Chemistry Of Cookies

Cookies are awesome.  No question.  They look brilliant, taste fantastic, and smell amazing!

But have you ever wondered why?  No?  To be honest I hadn’t either, but that inescapable desire for freshly baked cookies once the smell hits your nose is all to do with science.

You stick cookie dough into an oven, and magically, you get a plate of warm, gooey cookies. Except it’s not magic; it’s science.

Here’s another gem from Ted-Ed educator Stephanie Warren that explains exactly why.

So next time you bake some cookies there’s no need to set the kitchen timer, just wait for your nose let you know when the Maillard reaction has taken place.

Proof that “science can be pretty sweet”.  Happy baking!

Little Planet Dubai 360

I’ve been fortunate enough to travel out to the Middle East with work on a number of occasions over the past few years.  This means I’ve viewed slightly more than most of Dubai’s airport and terminals, though this is one viewpoint I never thought I’d see it from!

Full screen viewing recommended for this one.

The video is a spectacular time lapse capture that was shot over 30 hours and comprises of 88,000 (yes, eighty eight thousand!) photos to show 360 degree views of the earth rotating around a point on top of the airport control tower.

I haven’t counted, but I’m assured it features over 1,000 planes taking off and landing.

If you watch carefully – you will notice that the Little Planet actually makes exactly one rotation over the 24 hours of real time. Terminal 3 at the airport acts as an hour hand on a 24 hour clock, with midnight at the top, and midday at the bottom, so you can tell exactly what time every single frame was taken!

The footage was shot across four synchronised Canon 1Dx cameras using EF 8-15mm f4 L USM fisheye zoom lenses and Kolor Autopano Video was used to create the panoramas.

If that wasn’t enough, the Dubai 360 site has a very impressive interactive version you can spin and play around with.  Have fun!

Origami Robot

Origami and Robots – two things that I love.

Put them together and we seem to be on the verge of having our very own real life transformers (my preference resides with the original, not Michael Bay’s modern day efforts).

Ok, not quite as spectacular as Optimus Prime, nor does it function as much other than a flat sheet when not in robot form, but we now have something that can not only assemble itself but then walk away to do its job… without any human input!

Origami can produce stunningly complex shapes and geometry from a single sheet of paper, it’s even used more often than you might realise in science such as arranging sensors or amplifiers in particularly tight spaces, or understanding 6-dimensional spaces in Cosmology.

Inspired by the 1980s hit toy Shrinky Dinks (I remember making numerous keyrings and magnets) that, when heated, shrink to a hard finish without altering their colour or shape, scientists from Harvard and MIT now have a full electro-mechanical system.

The system consists of a flat polystyrene sheet, a flexible circuit board across each carefully designed hinge, two motors, a microcontroller and two batteries.  The microcontroller instructs the circuits to heat up which folds up the sheet, then, once cooled, the polystyrene hardens and the robot crawls off as tasked.

origami robot

The team from Harvard believes that future versions of this could help with activities from the mundane in helping people sweep leaves off their driveway to launching flat pack satelites that self-assemble into space.

Time and transport costs could also soon cost a fraction of what they are now if functional products can be shipped around as flat sheets and auto-assembled on site (a shelter for disaster zones is a perfect example).

In emergency situations or hard-to-reach places—under a crevice or pile of rubble, let’s say—the ability to deploy a compact robot that can then rearrange itself into a functional one could be a godsend.

There are still many obstacles to overcome, such as the frequency with which these prototypes catch fire due to the heat generated in folding, or the fact that the assembly alone completely drains the battery, but the future holds almost unlimited possibilities for these little guys, and all for materials that cost less than $100 (~£60).

A flat sheet of material is still a long way away from a 1967 Camaro SS or a Western Star truck cab, but given how those films usually end up that’s probably a good thing.

Read the full scientific journal here.

 

 

 

 


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