021617: Overlooked

img_3592_01_lr_12

Today’s images come from shooting I did at the Museum of Natural History in Florence. These particular images were originally passed over when I chose my “selects” from this project. This month’s snow and cold allowed me to revisit my photo libraries and “discover” these previously untouched images.

img_3594_01_lr_12

I normally try to avoid the cliche of “pretty flower” images, but these are very different. They are wax botanical models – wax sculptures, if you will – made during the 18th and 19th Centuries at the waxworks of the Imperial & Royal Museum of Physics and Natural History.

img_3597_01_lr_12

They currently reside in the collection of the Florence Museum of Natural History in the Botany Section and overseen by the section head, Dr. Chiara Nepi.

img_3602_01_lr_12

Regular viewers might recall the images I posted this time last year of the collection of fantastical fungi (0310: A Curious Cabinet). Those mushroom sculptures came from that same Botany Section.

img_3599_01_lr_12

Also, within that section resides an amazing collection of seeds and plant specimens, each of which is more visually stimulating than the other. Below are more samples.

img_3531_01_lr_12

*****

img_3495_01_lr_12

*****

img_3464_01_lr_12

*****

img_3584_01_lr_12

*****

img_3480_01_lr_12

My deepest thanks to Dr. Nepi for allowing me the opportunity to explore the objects under her care. She has always been so kind and gracious with her time in allowing me to enter her world.  I am always most grateful.

_______________

img_3637_01_lr_12

I’ll finish today with a handful of images from La Specola, another section of the Florence Museum – this time from their Mineralogy collection. I know a bit about fossils and their rock matrices but almost nothing about gems and minerals. I do know, though, that they can be pretty mind blowing and quite something to see!

I hope you agree,

img_3628_01_lr_12

*****

img_3646_01_lr_12

*****

img_3638_01_lr_12

*****

img_3627_01_lr_12

My thanks again to all those kind, thoughtful, and wonderful folks at the Museum whose kindness I could never repay!

And thanks to you for the visit today.

Advertisements

011217: Thin Ice

dsc04422x4_02_lr_12

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.

_______________

dsc04588_01_lr_12

And now Thin Ice

dsc04586_01_lr_12

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.

dsc04591_01_lr_12

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.

dsc04603_01_lr_12

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

dsc04605_01_lr_12

In many cases, the ice was paper thin…

dsc04615_01_lr_12

…with great details…

dsc04626_01_lr_12

…and some wonderful shapes.

dsc04635_01_lr_12

Just another example of the wonders of nature…

dsc04640_01_lr_12

…and the beauty of it all!

dsc04647_01_lr_12

_______________

img_7811_01_lr_12

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.

img_8225_01_lr_12

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.

img_0658_01_lr_12

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

img_8431_01_lr_12

Come say hello on Saturday at GCCA Gallery.

Thanks for the visit.

121516: Year End 2016

dsc01441_01_lr_12

The heat is cranked high in my studio right now. Snow is coming down so thick that it obliterates any view out the windows. And, like a substantial portion of the country, we are bracing for a “deep freeze.” Not unusual, given that its the final days of the year.

dsc01453_01_lr_12

As I normally do at this time, my post includes a selection of images from the entire year past – a sort of review, if you will. In this case they are a variety that reflect on experiences encountered and hints at directions to come.

dsc01739_01_lr_12

The first three images are products of the Maine coast. The shells (above), washed ashore last Summer, made me think of all the many fossils (seen below and 6 to 20 million years old) I encountered earlier at the Museum of Natural History in Florence, Italy.

img_9174_01_lr_12

Perhaps one of the most exciting experiences of my career was the interaction with that museum and its staff. I could never fully or properly express my gratitude for the opportunity to access many of their vast collections and to meet such an amazing group of dedicated professionals.

dsc_0844_01_lr_12

“Captured” is the title of the above image, shot in the storage rooms of the Mammals Section. It is also currently on display for the remainder of the month at the Hyde Collection in Glens Falls, NY as part of the 80th Annual Mohawk-Hudson Regional Exhibition.

dsc_0005_01_lr_12

From the Ornithology Collection

dsc_0216_01_lr_12

Florence street scene (with shrine)

img_9323_01_lr_12

In the rear of the Basilica di Santa Croce in Florence sits this funerary monument of Galileo Galilei. Directly across, on the opposite wall, sits the burial monument of Michelangelo, who died the day that Galileo was born. dsc01037_01print15_lr_12

I have always been fascinated with Galileo and the role he played in both world history and the history of science. This fascination has led to the image above, part of my ongoing  “Galileo” series.

dsc00191_01_lr_12

Fossils and lichen share the spotlight in this image where these deeply grounded objects combine to suggest the astronomical.

img_1413_01_lr_12

Some fossils.

img_0955_01_lr_12

Some lichen.                                                                                                                   (currently on view through December at the Woodstock Artist Assocciation and Museum)

dsc02063_01v1_lr_12

And a trifecta – fossils, lichen, and moss all rolled into one.

dsc00271_01_lr_12

These last two favorites – tree remains.

dsc00495_01_lr_12

With the holidays upon us, I’ll be taking a break and will be back in January. Best wishes to all of you for the upcoming year.

img_6779_lr_12

 

042816 – Simple Design, Simple Minds

IMG_7421_01_LR_12

Many of the objects seen here today look like they just got scooped up on a recent trip to the beach. Rather, they are marine invertebrate fossils that, if memory serves me correctly, range in age from six to twenty million years old.

IMG_7422_01_LR_12

It seemed like a good idea to present this group (all from the collection of the Museum of Natural History in Florence, Italy) in black and white.

IMG_7425_01_LR_12

These wonderful designs of Nature display well in a most simple fashion.

IMG_7411_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_7414_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_7393_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_8900_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_7428_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_8894_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_0264_01_LRBW_12

Last week’s topic on the sophistication of non-human minds drew an interesting variety of response. And with it still fresh in my mind I now keep running into similar types of articles. So let me share a couple of new ones with you.

IMG_9175_01_LR_12

“Brain scans of insects appear to indicate that they have the capacity to be conscious and show egocentrico, apparently indicating that they have such a thing as subjective experience.” That’s the finding of study written by Andrew B Barron and Colin Klein, and published in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences.

http://www.nytimes.com/2016/04/19/science/honeybees-insects-consciousness-brains.html?_r=0

IMG_8993_01_LR_12

And here’s one on slime mold:

“…But that view has been changing in recent years as scientists have been confronted with the astounding abilities of brainless creatures. Take the slime mold, for example. It’s an amoeba-like, single-celled organism filled with multiple nuclei, part of a primitive lineage that’s been munching on bacteria, fungi and other forest detritus for hundreds of millions of years. And yet, this very simple living thing manages all kinds of intellectual feats.”

http://www.latimes.com/science/sciencenow/la-sci-sn-slime-mold-brain-learning-20160426-story.html

IMG_8957_01_LR_12

It’s amazing what we continue to learn on the subject.

IMG_8917_01_LR_12

And one last note on the general subject of intelligence, the brainiacs over at NASA are celebrating twenty five years of Hubble images with this video. Take a moment to view these astonishing images.

IMG_8903_01_LR_12

Thanks as always for the visit.

0421: Anecdotes and Anthropomorphism

IMG_9506_01_LR_12

Today’s title comes from a fascinating article in the latest issue of Atlantic Magazine. Entitled “How Animals Think,” the article refers to the work of primatologist Frans de Waal who makes “… a passionate and convincing case for the sophistication of nonhuman minds.” Like many of you, I grew up being taught that the non-human version of thinking was “instinct” and nothing more. And, despite the various anecdotes of animal behavior suggesting otherwise, and despite being told that it was our need sometimes to imagine human traits in animals, there was no truth to any of it.

IMG_8593_01_LR_12

Rather, thanks to advances in technology and scientific research, we are beginning to see that “As de Waal recognizes, a better way to think about other creatures would be to ask ourselves how different species have developed different kinds of minds to solve different adaptive problems.”

IMG_0012_01_LR_12

In fact, in many cases those particular kinds of minds can be quite astounding. Last Sunday’s NY Times ran an article entitled “A Conversation With Whales,” in which the following statement is made:

Sperm whales’ brains are the largest ever known, around six times the size of humans’. They have an oversize neocortex and a profusion of highly developed neurons called spindle cells that, in humans, govern things like emotional suffering, compassion and speech.

IMG_9493_01_LR_12

Times have changed. Most phones these days have video capability, Youtube and Facebook now exist and abound with examples of animal behavior that previously had rarely been seen (those anecdotes that that had been so easily dismissed in the past).

IMG_9497_01_LR_12

Whether it be a chimp hugging Jane Goodall goodbye or the mourning rituals of elephants, these and many other examples are helping us to evolve to a greater understanding of the world around us and, perhaps, our own place within it.

IMG_9625_01_LR_12

So I had  a mix of emotions when I took these images recently in the back rooms of La Specola, the noted natural history museum in Florence, Italy. It was simultaneously compelling and repelling. While this taxidermy in the pursuit of science and research served its purpose in the past I assume that more enlightened minds now see that such practices are no longer appropriate.

IMG_9576_01_LR_12

And, after having spent many Sunday afternoons visiting the Bronx Zoo as a kid, I can hardly approve of the caged displays of animals anymore.

DSC_0834_01_LR_12

Despite this long history of misunderstanding, attitudes are changing. Animal sentience has been codified into law in New Zealand and France recently. In August of 2012 an international group of prominent scientists (including Dr. Stephen Hawking) signed “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness” declaring animal sentience as real.

DSC_0953_01_LR_12

It is certainly something worth considering.

DSC_0839_01_LR_12

_______________

IMG_1233_01_LR_12

Let me make a switch now to perhaps the other end of the “consciousness” spectrum – lichen! Not a lot of brain activity around here.  But an interesting organism nonetheless.

IMG_1213_01_LR_12

*****IMG_1230_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_1244_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_1231_01_LR_12

Thanks for the visit.

0414: Birds

IMG_1179_01_LR_12

Shortly after returning from our recent trip both Cindy and I each found these two interesting objects – bird skulls. Not an everyday occurrence for sure but it seemed appropriate after having just spent so much time in the Ornithology Department of La Specola in Florence.

IMG_1180_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_1188_01_LR_12

What immediately came to mind as I was setting up this last one was the pterodactyl (below) that I photographed in the Fossil Department. Certainly birdlike but apparently there is much discussion as to just how “birdlike” or how “reptile-like” it actually is. From what I was able to discern, the pterodactyl was a “flying reptile.” Its all a bit confusing to me. All I know for sure is that the images all work well with each other.

IMG_7268_01_LR_12

And so this week’s selection is quite literally for the birds!

IMG_9687_01_LR_12

*****

DSC_0001_01_LR_12

*****

DSC_0031_01_LR_12

*****

DSC_0005_01_LR_12

*****

DSC_0013_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_0002_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_0032_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_0020_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_0037_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_9929_01_LR_12

_______________

IMG_5869_01_LR_12

One final note – Today I’d like to take a moment to wish a most warm and happy birthday to Cindy, the love of my life.

Happy Birthday my dear Cindy!!!

0407: An Odd Mix

_MG_4810_01_LR_12

This time last week I was hurrying to get the blog posted. It was 72 degrees out with a bright sun – easily the best day of this early Spring. The rest of the day was spent at my favorite quarry where I eventually filled the trunk of my car with fossil laden rocks.

IMG_3004

Fresh material to explore and photograph. Material enough, I was sure, to fill several of these posts. Most particularly today’s.

IMG_2801_01_LR_12

But two days later, my plans changed when a Spring surprise arrived in the form of six inches of snow. And that pile of rocks sits waiting for me.

IMG_0960_01_LR_12

So, in search of a  new topic for today, I decided to browse one of my photo libraries from a few years ago. Often, I can find many images that I had originally passed over (for whatever reason). And, with fresh eyes and a different perspective, they all becomes new material to explore.

IMG_5317_01_LR_12

What you see today is this rather odd mix of images that seemed to beckon to me – no criteria other than that.

IMG_5576_01_LR_12

*****

_MG_4453_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_5268_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_5386_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_5453_01_LR_12

_______________

IMG_7494_01_LR_12

This next set of images is from the Florence Museum of Natural History – this time the subject is bones.

IMG_7521_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_9795_01_LR_12

*****

IMG_7534_01_LR_12

_______________

IMG_0514_01_FW

And, finally, a nice piece of news – The image above, which I had shared with you a few weeks ago, has been selected for “Far & Wide”, the 8th Annual Woodstock Regional Exhibition. Entitled “Natural History – Mushrooms,” it was taken at the Botanical Division of the aforementioned museum. Opening and reception is set for May 7 from 4-6 pm.

Thanks for the visit.