Many National Geographic photographers whose works are shown in the exhibition What a Wonderful World in Cecina (LI) have a scientific background in biology. Their shots often capture rare species or animal behavior that is poorly documented or even newly discovered. Here are a couple of examples.
Clouds of bubbles
When emperor penguins return from fishing and jump out of the water, they are particularly vulnerable to leopard seal attacks. In this photo Paul Nicklen showed «from the inside» the cloud of millions of microbubbles that the penguins release from their feathers to lubricate the phase of exit from the ocean, triple their speed and confuse the predators lurking under the pack.
Paul has the Arctic in his blood. Born in 1968, he grew up on Baffin Island, Nunavut, in one of the few non-Inuit families in a small settlement amid Canada’s ice packs and icy seas. Today Paul is a naturalist and photographer specializing in portraying climate change in polar regions and is not afraid to face extreme conditions to reach the public with his images, in order to raise a voice in defence of these delicate and precious biodiversity-rich ecosystems. Paul lives a life of art, commitment and adventure, combining his career with activism. When not struggling against subzero temperatures, he makes his home on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, where he lives together with Cristina Mittermeier.
These nice panther chameleons (Furcifer pardalis), an endemic species of northern Madagascar, are two males ready to engage in a fight. The African island is home to more than half of the world’s chameleon species, many of which, however, are endangered due to indiscriminate deforestation. In addition to their ability to change colour and blend in with the environment, chameleons have telescopic eyes and the planet’s fastest tongue.
Christian was born in Germany in 1972. A tropical ecologist by training, he has worked in rainforests on four continents. Christian’s goal is to highlight endangered species and ecosystems and share their beauty and importance with a wide audience through engaging, informed storytelling. Christian has produced, among others, stories about bonobos and carnivorous plants, and illustrated books on tropical ecology as well as wild orchids and their pollinators. He lives on the edge of the Panama National Park rainforest with his wife Daisy Dent, an ecologist, with whom he wrote his latest book after a serious health problem that took him out of action for almost a year.
Landscape photography is a genre that we all experience, at least once in our lifetime. The risk, when photographing a place, is to end up with ordinary results, especially if it is full of tourists and not a remote corner of the Earth. In the following two photographs, selected for the exhibition What a Wonderful World, two great photographers of the National Geographic Society used their touch to make these landscapes “magical”: one, with the strength of an original point of view, the other with the charm of a bold perspective. Let’s see what they represent.
Like a painting
In order to take a memorable picture, you often have to be in the right place, at the right time, with an idea in mind. This is what Frans Lanting did when he photographed the dead camel thorn trees in Dead Vlei, a desiccated clay pan ringed by 400-metre-high ferrous dunes in the Namib Desert. He patiently waited for the rising sun to gradually illuminate the dunes until it touched the clayey soil still in the shade, creating an incredible contrast. A small aperture for a sharp rendering of the grassy bushes in the background and a graduated filter to compensate for the difference in brightness were the only technical devices used to capture this shot, which resembles a painting. Just a few more minutes, and the magic moment would have faded away with the arrival of sunlight and tourists. This photograph, published on the digital platforms of National Geographic, was seen by more than half a million people in two days. The power of the image.
Frans is considered one of the greatest photographers of our time. Born in Rotterdam in 1951, he graduated in economics and then moved to America to study environmental planning. For thirty years he has documented nature from the Amazon to Antarctica, in order to promote understanding of the world and natural history through images that convey passion for the environment and a sense of wonder and amazement at the beauties of our planet. He has been described as having «the mind of a scientist, the heart of a hunter, and the eyes of a poet». Frans’s photos owe a great deal to art and literature as well as to science, technology and his own experiences with nature and wildlife on all seven continents.
This hot spring, that reaches up to 70°C and has a diameter of 110 metres, is the largest one in the United States and the third largest in the world. The name Grand Prismatic Spring stems from its colouring: while the pool’s centre is always of an intense blue, the colours towards the edge range from orange to red in the summer and will turn almost green in the winter. This incredible effect is caused by thermophilic bacteria in the water which thrive at high temperatures. The photo is taken from above with a drone, and you can appreciate the shades of colour of both water and soil at Yellowstone Park.
Michael is from Alabama, where he was born in 1952. In the early 1970s he was drafted into the photography unit of the U.S. Army. After studying at the University of North Alabama, where he met his mentor, former Life magazine photographer Charles Moore, Michael began his career as a photojournalist in 1979. He has documented elephants, African nature, lions, American zoos, tigers, and the relationship between man and chimpanzee. He uses innovative techniques to create huge composite images, such as that of a 300-foottall, 1,500-year-old redwood tree. He photographed 27 stories for National Geographic magazine, before retiring in 2016. He lives in Sugar Hollow, Virginia, with his wife, artist Reba Peck.
Many of the 20 photographers who took the pictures shown in the exhibition What a Wonderful World are biologists who have chosen photography as a means of connecting a large number of people with science. They are all very adventurous in their attitudes to field research and able to create amazing images: let’s see two of them in detail.
Photographing a greater bird of paradise performing a courtship ritual on top of a branch at a height of thirty metres, in perfect light conditions and with the rainforest in the background, is no mean feat. Tim Laman did it after years of trial and error and eight days spent climbing up and down the trees in the Aru Islands in West New Guinea. The technique used is almost unbelievable. A camera sewn inside large leaves and hidden on the branch that the birds of paradise normally use for perching was connected by means of an 18-metre USB cable to the tree opposite, where Tim built his «suspended» post. From inside a leaf tent, the photographer adjusted the camera’s focus and exposure by means of a laptop. In addition to the aesthetic value of the images and videos that Tim managed to capture, their scientific value is also enormous: so far, no scientist had ever been able to observe the behaviour of this rare animal from such a short distance.
Tim is a field biologist and a wildlife photojournalist. He was born in 1961, and spent his childhood in Japan, where he developed an early interest in nature exploration. He first went to the Borneo rainforest in 1987, and the Asia-Pacific region (especially the Indonesian archipelago) has since become the main subject of his scientific and photographic research. Tim has earned a reputation as a person who is able to return from his travels with shots of subjects almost impossible to photograph, such as the flying animals of Borneo, the displays of the birds of paradise and some of the most endangered birds in the world. Tim collaborates with his wife, Cheryl Knott, on orangutan research and conservation projects.
In this poetic shot a young whale shark filters the water rich in plankton attracted by a light in the night. The photo was taken in the Gulf of Aden, off the border between Djibouti and Somalia, where Thomas P. Peschak spent many nights with Somali fishermen to document the rich biodiversity of the seas surrounding the Arabian Peninsula. Despite its size, the whale shark is totally harmless to humans.
Thomas P. Peschak
Born in 1975 in Germany but raised in South Africa, Thomas is a marine biologist specializing in the conflict between man and nature. He became a photojournalist (mainly underwater) when he realized that he would have a greater impact on conservation through photographs than through statistics. In 2008, his first photos for National Geographic magazine documented the discovery of Hanifaru Bay, near the Maldivian atoll of Baa, where manta rays gather to feed on plankton: the story raised public awareness and prevented the construction of a harbour at the site, which has been declared a marine protected area. Today he focuses on documenting some of the most critical stories of our time regarding the conservation of oceans and islands.
50 Aufnahmen der National Geographic Society
Vom 16. März bis zum 28. April gibt die großartige Naturfotografie der National Geographic Society ihr Gastspiel bei der Geiger-Stiftung. Die von Alessandra Scalvini kuratierte Ausstellung What a Wonderful World besteht aus einer Auswahl von 50 Fotos von 20 Fotografen, die für die Zeitschrift National Geographic, mit einer weltweiten Leserschaft von 30 Millionen Menschen pro Monat, gearbeitet haben.
What a Wonderful World soll eine Hommage an die unendlich vielen, aber immer zerbrechlicheren und zunehmend bedrohten, Schönheiten unseres Planeten sein und jede Besucherin und jeder Besucher sollen, wenn sie vor diesen Bildern stehen, ausrufen können: «Welch eine wunderbare Welt!»
Ein Jahr nach der Ausstellung Ernst Ludwig Kirchner in Davos, die einen der großen Meister der Kunst des 20. Jahrhunderts nach Cecina gebracht hat, präsentiert die Kulturstiftung Hermann Geiger dem Publikum nun einen weiteren außergewöhnlichen Künstler von internationalem Rang: In den Ausstellungsräumen an der Piazza Guerrazzi werden von Dezember 2018 bis Februar 2019 Lithografien von Alberto Giacometti zu sehen sein, den man hauptsächlich durch seine in ihrer scheinbaren Verwitterung an etruskische Kunst erinnernden schlanken Skulpturen kennt.
Die Werke sind eine Hommage Giacomettis an Paris, jene Stadt, die ihn nach seinem Fortgang aus seinem Geburtsland, der Schweiz, aufnahm. Es besteht aus 150 Bildern, die zwischen 1958 und 1965 entstanden und auf denen er mit dem Lithografiestift nach der Natur Boulevards, Gebäude, Kirchen und Monumente, aber auch Cafés, sein Atelier sowie Portraits seines Bruders Diego, seiner Frau und der Prostituierten, mit denen er sich häufig umgab, zeichnete. Die Werke sind zusammen mit einem unvollendeten Text im Buch Paris sans fin enthalten, das im Jahr 1969 posthum von Tériade herausgegeben wurde. In diesem Buch, das als regelrechtes künstlerisches Testament gehandelt wird, vertraut sich Alberto Giacometti einem Medium an, das keine Radierungen und nachträglichen Änderungen zulässt, was als Versuch gewertet werden kann, eine verloren gegangene Unmittelbarkeit des künstlerischen Ausdrucks wiederzufinden.
Die Ausstellung Paris sans fin. Original-Lithografien von Alberto Giacometti ist vom 1. Dezember 2018 bis zum 24. Februar 2019 täglich von 16 bis 20 Uhr geöffnet. Der Eintritt ist frei. Die Ausstellung wird von Klaus Littmann kuratiert und enthält Werke aus der Sammlung von Carlos Gross.
Paris sans fin. Original-Lithografien von Alberto Giacometti
1. Dezember 2018 ‒ 24. Februar 2019
Täglich von 16 bis 20 Uhr geöffnet
Kulturstiftung Hermann Geiger
Piazza Guerrazzi 32/33, Cecina (Livorno)
The catalogue of the exhibition Sailing Ships. Great Stories of the Sea is now freely downloadable online!
Edited by Federico Gavazzi, the volume contains historical information regarding each sailing ship on display, accompanied by photographs by Giovanni Servi and organized according to the exhibition thematic areas: great explorations, trade with the Indies, piracy and privateering, supremacy over the seas. These aspects are investigated in essays by Federico Gavazzi and Giulia Santi of the Hermann Geiger Cultural Foundation, and Luca Lo Basso and Emiliano Beri of the University of Genoa, respectively director and member of the scientific committee of the NavLab Laboratory of Maritime and Naval History.
The catalogue, in Italian and English, is published by Bandecchi & Vivaldi Editore of Pontedera and is the latest addition to the FHG Art Series.
Click here for the list of catalogues.