Thursday, July 5, 2012

Extraordinary landscapes of America captured with good old fish-eye lens

These stunning images should certainly give you a new perspective on the world.

Photographer Randy Scott Slavin spent months taking hundreds of shots from some of the most iconic and beautiful parts of the U.S. to create his amazing collection of landscape pictures.

The 34-year-old New Yorker used hi-tech computer software to stitch a series of snaps together into one jaw-dropping 360 degree image to give the impression of having been taken with a super wide angle 'fisheye' lens.

His post-production work can take from a full day up to a couple of weeks to finish, but resulted in the stunning Alternate Perspective series which will be exhibited in July.

Randy explains: ‘In my music videos, I've continually tried to take concepts to the next level, to push the ideas to be more engaging, moving and stimulating-and I approach photography with the same philosophy.

‘When I began shooting landscapes, I was compelled to push the perspective. After experimenting heavily with panoramic photography, I developed a technique that could realise my desire to turn the real into the surreal. The result is something rebellious, beautiful and provocative. My 'Alternative Perspectives' series is a collection of the works culled from these photographic explorations.’

Randy - a cutting edge filmmaker and music video director for bands including Foo Fighters - travelled across America to seek out landscapes for his work, taking in views ranging from California to Florida. 

He says that the calming nature of the work is an antidote to his fast-paced New York lifestyle.

He said: ‘I do the work that I do because it inspires and motivates me. I will eagerly jump out of bed at 4am to catch a sunrise, to hike, climb or endure treacherous weather for the good of the shot. The effort is always worth it.

‘Taking great landscape photos are extremely difficult. The photographing of the images is the actually least time consuming part of the process. What takes the longest is finding the places that are worthy of shooting and getting to the spot that's best to shoot them from.

‘You can't light landscapes so it's important to figure out what the best time of day is to take a photograph. Sometimes this means long hours of waiting and watching... This is one of the most meditative parts of the process and one which I really enjoy. Being from New York City, where the pace is blistering, there's nothing better than finding a beautiful spot and just watching the light change throughout the day.

Randy chooses his location in different ways; sometimes stumbling onto an ideal shot or at other times knowing exactly what he is trying to capture.

‘While on a vacation with my fiancĂ© I took the image entitled Big Sur. Northern California is a magical place where epic elements collide. It's really hard to take a bad photograph there.

'We spent the day on top of a cliff and the clouds had rolled in below us. It was like being in an airplane. I ran to get my gear and just barely caught the sunset. The scene was surreal even before I touched it in post.

‘I found the location for Sea and Moon while driving on the Florida coastline. I saw a jetty that looked beautiful and the sun was about an hour from setting. Perfect timing. I ran out to the end and set up my gear. 

'It was beautiful and warm with a light drizzle but the sky was heavy with dark clouds. As the sun was setting there was a moment maybe lasting for ten seconds where the sunlight was so golden It felt unreal. A minute after I got the shot the clouds opened up and it started to pour.’

In July, Randy will exhibit his Alternate Perspective series at the opening of a new boutique by celebrity jewellery designer and goldsmith Kristen Farrell in Soho, New York.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Footage of Nasa's first ever spacewalk from Gemini IV

It’s no wonder that he didn’t want to come back in.

On June 3 1965 astronaut Ed White became the first American to go on a spacewalk – which lasted 23 minutes.

Needless to say, it was quite an experience and flight control had difficulty persuading him to return to the craft.

It is reported that he described clambering back inside as the saddest moment of his life.
However, ground control were very aware that time was not on his side. If he'd stayed out for too long the station tracking the craft from Bermuda would have lost contact - and darkness would have fallen.

Incredible footage of the landmark event has been uploaded to YouTube with users awestruck by the images.

When White eased himself out of Gemini IV he was travelling at nearly 18,000mph, 178 miles above Hawaii.

He floated and maneuvered himself around the craft while logging 6,500 miles during his orbital stroll. White was attached to the spacecraft by a 25-foot umbilical line and a 23-foot tether line, both wrapped in gold tape to form one cord.

The visor of his helmet is gold plated to protect him from the unfiltered rays of the sun and his suit was pressurised with oxygen.

He was attached to a hose that supplied the craft with air and was able to move around thanks to a small nitrogen-powered gun.

Nasa, however, was beaten to it by Russia, who sent Alexei Leonov on a spacewalk on March 18, 1965.

It’s widely accepted that the U.S spacewalk was a propaganda response to this.
Ten crews flew during the Gemini missions, which took place between 1965 and 1966. They helped Nasa get ready for moon landings. 

An incredible 134 aircraft and 26 ships were involved in recovering the craft when it eventually returned to Earth.

Friday, June 22, 2012

River so clean you can see 50ft up from the bed

A crystal clear river is so clean that the 50ft deep riverbed can be seen from a bridge crossing over the water. 

The 30km long Verzasca River in Switzerland is renowned all over the world for its clear turquoise waters.

But while pictures of the sparkling waters are often taken from the mountains surrounding the river or from bridges crossing over it, it's much rarer to see photographs taken from the bottom of it. 

Photographer, Claudio Gazzaroli, 38, visited the river where he came across the arched bridge known as the 'Roman Bridge'.

Claudio decided to jump into the water with his camera to capture this novel perspective on a well-known tourist site.

'I wanted to show the beauty of this place in a new way,' said Claudio.

'The clarity of the water is amazing and the bridge is an ancient landmark. I love this place and have visited it about two hundred times.

'I have wanted to capture the bridge over the river in this perspective for many years. But only now am I happy with the picture.'

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Most bizarre tribute to Titanic - Light artist recreates sinking of liner with projections onto iceberg

Of all the tributes to the victims of Titanic, this must be among the strangest.

To mark the 100th anniversary of the disaster, Swiss light artist Gerry Hofstetter plans to recreate the sinking of the liner by projecting images onto a giant iceberg.

In these test pictures on an ice cap in the Northern Polar sea, Mr Hofstetter charts its doomed journey from Southampton to the fateful collision in the North Atlantic.

Mr Hofstetter has illuminated a number of landmarks around the world, including Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, the Arc de Triomphe in Paris, the Sphinx and the Great Pyramid at Giza, and the White Cliffs of Dover.

Mr Hofstetter reveals his philosophy on his website. He says: 'If you have a dream or an idea, be careful, it may be a vision.

'If your heart catches the spirit of that vision, realize it, with passion. And never forget, success is the only solution.'

His tribute is among a number of commemorative event taking place to mark the death of 1,517 people on board the vessel when it sank beneath the waves on April 15, 1912.

One which may rival it for its brush with the bizarre involves relatives of passengers who died on the cruise setting sail on a trip to retrace the voyage.

But critics, who thought the recreation was macabre or in poor taste, were silenced after all 1,309 berths on the MS Balmoral - the same number on board the Titanic - were snapped up.

The Balmoral left Southampton docks yesterday and is due to reach the North Atlantic wreck site next weekend for a memorial ceremony.

On the anniversary, passengers will gather on deck for a memorial ceremony at 11:40pm on April 14 - the exact time the ship hit the iceberg 100 years on.

Another service will be held at 2.20am to mark the moment it sank.

Numerous events have also taken place in the lead up to the 100th anniversary of its sinking.

The Belfast shipyard where the Titanic was built has been revitalised in time for the landmark date, while an eye-catching, dockside centre opened just weeks before the 100th anniversary of the ship's sinking.

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Giant whale caught on camera swallowing a whole shoal of fish

A whale prepares to clamp its jaws around a shoal of sardines in this remarkable underwater image.

Underwater photographer Doug Perrine travelled to Mexico's Baja Peninsula to photograph the magnificent 50-foot-long Bryde's whale.

Scientists know so little about them that the numbers, range in the world's oceans and whether this species of whale is in danger of being wiped out are not understood.

Bryde's whales are a type of baleen whale that feed on small fish and krill.
Surrounded by hungry marlins and sea lions, Doug and his fellow diver, Brandon Cole, found themselves in the middle of a feeding frenzy, which allowed them to witness, and get extraordinarily close to, this act of nature.

The whales would just appear out of nowhere and blindsided us,' said Doug.
They came in so fast that they seemed to just appear out of nowhere right next to us - it was very unnerving.'

'The marlin were a little scary too - they would use their bills to try to whack the sardines that would hide behind our necks, under our arms, and between our legs.

'When the whale hit my rubber fins, I just tumbled down its side. 'It sped past with its throat pleats expanding to take in a swimming pool sized gulp of sardines and sea water.'

'As the whale pushed the water out of its mouth the air was forced out with the water. This produced jets of white bubbles that make the whales look like fire-breathing dragons.'

Scientists have been left scratching their heads because of uncertainty over exactly what classifies a whale as a Bryde's whale.

They are related to the humpback whale and blue whale, and Bryde's whales are often mistaken for other types of whale. They live in the Indian, Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Friday, June 1, 2012

'Urban explorer' scales London's 1,000ft Shard

Clinging tightly to a crane 1,000ft up, this ‘urban explorer’ dare not look down.

For he is perched at the top of London’s Shard, Europe’s tallest building, and it’s a long drop to the city below. Now his group has posted a stomach-churning video of their exploits online - which can be seen below - and it's certainly not for those who suffer from vertigo.

Bradley Garrett, 31, is one of a small group of urban explorers who sneak into London landmarks at night to explore skyscrapers or disused Tube tunnels despite the safety risks and possibility of arrest.

The stunt will dismay the security operation that surrounds the huge construction project amid claims just one guard was on duty each night.

Dr Garrett, who has written a PhD thesis on what he calls ‘place-hacking’, said his group called the London Consolidation Crew had climbed up the Shard a number of times over the past 12 months.

He said his group had first scaled the building to watch New Year’s Eve fireworks over London in December 2010.

He added: ‘We have been really interested in the construction and how things have progressed. The security has got better over time but you just can’t secure a site that big.

‘There was usually only one security guard, so we waited until he had finished his round and gone into his hut, then swung off London Bridge on to a walkway.

‘We pushed open the door to the central staircase and ran up the stairs two at a time.

'At the 31st floor the three men were sweating heavily, at the 50th they had to stop for breath, at the 70th the concrete staircase turned into metal ladders and then wooden ladders took them to the current top, the 76th floor.
'Right at the top is a crane with  a red light at its zenith to  warn aircraft.'

Dr Garrett, 31, who is from Los Angeles in the U.S., said: ‘When you’re hanging on to the crane and it’s shaking in the wind you do feel nervous.

'But to go up and touch the red light right at the ultimate pinnacle is incredibly exhilarating. If I felt it was unsafe I wouldn’t do it.’

‘We don’t break in – we sneak in. We never cause criminal damage and we leave everything exactly how we find it. We’re doing it as we love the building. Ninety per cent of the time no-one even knows we have been in and out of the place.'

Dr Garrett, who lives in Clapham, south-West London, said he and his group had 'done with' the Shard for now.

The Shard will have 95 floors when it is finished next month and will rise to 1,016ft including a gleaming spire. It will house a hotel, restaurant, viewing platform, flats and offices.

Work on the Shard began in February 2009 and an estimated £450million has been spent on its construction so far.

The building will offer uninterrupted 360-degree views of the capital, stretching for 40 miles in every direction.

Visitors will be able to enjoy the view from an observatory that will be 72 floors up.

Billed as a ‘vertical city’, it will comprise offices up to floor 28, then three floors of restaurants; a five-star 19-storey hotel of 200 rooms; ten apartments over 12 floors – each seven times larger than a semi-detached house and likely to fetch tens of millions of pounds each; and, finally, the observatory and spire.

Designed by Italian Renzo Piano to resemble an iceberg emerging from the Thames, The Shard has not been without controversy.

English Heritage has expressed fears about the ‘major and detrimental’ impact on views of St Paul’s Cathedral, the Tower of London and the Palace of Westminster.

Friday, May 25, 2012

Bringing a smile to the streets of Russia

Meet the street artist who is quite literally bringing a smile to the streets of Russia.

Nikita Nomerz's unique quirky faces are causing quite a stir in the cities of the former grey, concrete-clad Communist heartland.

His exhibition, entitled The Living Wall, features a variety of different faces sprayed on to the sides of derelict buildings.

Nomerz has travelled around various cities in Russia, including Irkutsk, Perm and of course his home city of Nizhniy Novgorod, to create the eye-catching works of art.

After finding a suitable abandoned structure, the artist attempts to bring it back to life.

By adding eyes and facial features he makes old buildings laugh, smile, scream or just look at the passersby with an eerie gaze.

From laughing water towers to grinning walls with lights for eyes, Nomerz has brightened up dilapidated corners of Russia with his signature faces.

He began his love affair with art by developing his skills as a classic hip hop graffiti artist but he later began to experiment.

On his blog site the artist says he likes to play with space and objects and is inspired by the place itself.

He says he usually doesn’t spend much time creating a work and sometimes finishes a piece in less than an hour. But he says it all depends on the size of the object and his ideas.