How Did Feathers Evolve?

How did feathers evolve?  Not something I’ve ever really considered, but now that you mention it, I don’t know of one of those ape-to-human evolution images for feathers.  So, how did they?

Feathers are wonderfully intricate and versatile features.  Often considered delicate, they offer a robust ability to camouflage, impress potential mates, waterproof, insulate, and assist in flight.

Quite a marvel of attributes they can bring to a species and, as Carl Zimmer explains in this animation, it all started with seemingly “accidental physics” that took place 50 million years ago.

The animation was created by the talented Armella Leung and you can see some more TED-Ed lessons from Carl Zimmer here.

This Is Ed

From no CGI in my last post to nothing but CGI in this one.

This is Ed, he isn’t real.  Seriously.

Head B 2y 2 (3h 55m)

Demonstrating some serious CGI skills in Lightwave, SculptrisKrita, and Davinci ResolveChris Jones has created something that is almost indistinguishable from real life. Wow.

Until the video zoomed out I was convinced it was a real person.  Hands up who else was?

Seriously impressive.  Keep it up, Chris!  You can see the progress of this work on his YouTube channel here.

Sparked

Lately it seems that drones are encroaching on everyday life more and more.  From security and warfare, to sight-seeing, Amazon deliveries, and, of course, good ol’ fashioned fun.

The word “drone” often seems to have a somewhat negative connotation to it, though this video definitely proves otherwise.  It falls into the latter category I mentioned, albeit with a touch more finesse and coordination than your average RC helicopter user crashing into trees at the park.

any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic

Sparked was performed live with perfectly synchronised human and drone quadcopter interactions to conjure up the magic of lampshades flying into life around an electrician who is working late into the night.

No CGI.  No post-production.  100% live and awesome.

The production was a collaboration between the incredibly famous Cirque du Soleil (if you ever get the chance to go to a show then you must), ETH Zurich, and Verity Studios.

For more information on the technology they used, and how they came to use lighting integrated into lamp shades see the video below.

Great work all round.

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.

20130103

20130124

20130301

20130418

20130831

20140208

20140322

20140618

20140729

20140910

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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.


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