071218: Back to the Library

Once again I’ve been diving into my library of images from my shooting at the various divisions of the Florence Museum of Natural History. Today’s images are some of the more interesting and odder outtakes from a variety of its collections – Mammals, Reptiles, Entomology, Echinoderms, Paleontology, and Botanica.

So, from whale bones and reptiles to butterflies and fossils (and much in between):

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These last two images need a bit of explanation. Gorgonocephalus agassizi, otherwise known as underwater “basket stars,” remind me of Medusa, the Greek mythological monster with snakes instead of hair. Interesting enough, as the image above shows. The second basket star (below), found off Cape Cod in 1888, seemed to call out for a different treatment.

There are some Photoshop “tricks” that can easily become rather “gimmicky” and wise to avoid using. But sometimes a particular image just lends itself to the gimmick. And, used carefully and judiciously, it can provide some very interesting results. In this case, the horizontal flop gave me something natural as well as unnatural, an eye-catching symmetry from meandering randomness! More on this “trick” next week.

Thanks for the visit.

011217: Thin Ice

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Before I get to the ice let me remind you of the opening of “Fresh,” an interesting show that I will be a part of. It opens this Saturday (the 14th) at the GCCA Gallery on Main Street in Catskill (5-7pm).Today’s opening image is one of four prints, all part of my “Galileo” series, that will be displayed in the show. All the work shown by all the artists involved has been created since October, thus the name “Fresh.” Please join us if you are in the area. The show will run through February 25.

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And now Thin Ice

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Last week, on one of the colder days of the year so far, I accompanied my friend, the enormously talented photographer Moshe Katvan on a hunt for rocks – not just any rocks, mind you, but just the right ones necessary for an upcoming shoot of his.

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So I took him to a few of my favorite spots to find some variety, one of which is a small dry creek bed that has interesting rocks and some extraordinary fossils.

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This particular day it also had pockets of ice where water pooled following the last rain.

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In many cases, the ice was paper thin…

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…with great details…

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…and some wonderful shapes.

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Just another example of the wonders of nature…

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…and the beauty of it all!

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I decided to round out this post with four images from last year’s work I did at La Specola, the Natural History Museum of Florence. I was thinking of delicacy, following the “ice” images, and was drawn to these particular images taken in the Entomology, Enichoderms, and Ornithology Sections.

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These proved to be fun to work on and they allowed for experimenting with some new techniques. What a joy it was to have been given such an opportunity.

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For those interested, from top to bottom – moth, heliaster, bird eggs, butterflies.

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Come say hello on Saturday at GCCA Gallery.

Thanks for the visit.

0310: A Curious Cabinet

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I discovered months ago that many of my regular viewers have a thing for mushrooms (you know who you are!). Today’s post is one you might find particularly interesting. The opening image, above, is a cabinet that runs from desktop to ceiling, one of many that line the walls of a small room in the Botany Section of the Florence Museum of Natural History. And, yes, it is filled with mushrooms – or rather – a beautiful collection of mushroom sculptures from the 1800s.

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Every door that was opened to me in the museum last month gave way to fascinating objects of all sorts. This one, though, caught me completely by surprise.

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I was visiting with Dr. Chiara Nepi, Section Head of the Botany Department. Dr. Nepi had allowed me to photograph in her areas on my last visit. She was most kind and generous to me at that time and so a visit this trip to say hello was very much in order. As the visit was wrapping up I mentioned about my experience with my neighbor’s mushroom farm. “Have you seen our collection of mushrooms?” she asked. No, I was not aware but more than happy to take a look.

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Within moments, the door to this room opens. And, once again, I’m dumbfounded by what I see!

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Turns out the Museum has this collection of amazing models (more than 200, I believe) made in the 1800s by the Frenchman Jean-Baptiste Barla, a curious and interesting scholar, naturalist, and botanist. His models became appreciated by both researchers and enthusiasts and were in such high demand that he began manufacturing them in the 1850s.

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These are just a few of the pieces in the collection, which was donated to the museum over a period of years.

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So, I thank Dr. Nepi once again for the opportunity to play with these little gems!

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I also managed to have a few moments with another interesting, small collection – this time belonging to the Ornithology Department. Birds’ nests and birds’ eggs.

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Prepping these images for today’s post seems particularly appropriate on a day like today. Back home now after traveling. Early Spring. The sky is filled with long, long “V”s of honkers heading north – like trains lined up one behind the other, waiting for their turn to head home.

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Birds are everywhere – probably checking out the best location for a new nest!

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Thanks for the visit.

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