Close-up photographs capture feathers’ dazzle factor
Heidi and Hans-Jürgen Koch photographed various feathers housed at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin to create these vibrant images
25 January 2023
FEW creations of the natural world possess the dazzle factor of feathers. They are at the crux of some of the most astonishing courtship displays and migrations on Earth, and have long been a centrepiece of human culture, art and mythology.
Made from keratin, feathers provide visual appeal and also help birds (and, millions of years ago, dinosaurs) to fly. They also help birds to swim and camouflage themselves, as well as keep warm, dry and protected.
Some of the remarkable vibrancy and diversity of feathers is captured in these mesmerising images taken by photographers Heidi and Hans-Jürgen Koch. “For us, bird feathers are probably the most poetic masterpiece of evolution,” they say.
Photographing various types of plumage housed at the Museum of Natural History in Berlin, Germany, they combined individual shots taken at varying levels of light to “expose the essence” of the extravagant colours, shapes and structures of feathers, which make “people succumb to their charisma”, they say. A book of their images is due out later this year.
The iconic colourings of the scarlet macaw are displayed in the main image, showing its mainly red plumage and blue wing feathers; below it is a yellow shoulder-feather from the same species. Then from there is the feather of a black-headed parrot, the typical eyespots of a great argus pheasant, the plumage of a blue bird-of-paradise (pictured above) and the tail feathers of a grey peacock-pheasant (pictured below).
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Source link Close-up photographs of feathers highlight an overlooked aspect of avian beauty. The intricate structure of feathers can appear incredibly detailed and stunning in surprisingly close views.
A single feather can change its look radically through a range of perspectives. From a distance, the feather can seem plain or rudimentary. But up close, a feather can reveal small bright patterns, differences in shades and hints of shimmery details that weren’t noticeable before.
Feathers consist of millions of tiny and intricate parts, some of which are barely visible to the naked eye. Those small parts, like individual barbules, can give the feather an impressive color and texture. Photographers explore the feather’s subtle tones and visual transitions by using intense lighting and a high-powered lens. Colors, from the classic black and white to bright greens or blues, can be reveal through the lens, depending on the species of the bird.
A closer shot can capture a feather’s “dazzle factor.” Feather details, such as fashionable stripes or unique decorative elements, present an enjoyable challenge to photographers. As an example, the feathers of a hummingbird can look quite complex, as it includes russet-brown, white and gray shades with accompanying tones of blue and yellow. A close-up can capture the delicate texture of the bird’s feathers and fine-structured edged.
Close-up shots of feathers can reveal a world that’s been typically left unrecognized. Blurred backgrounds enhance the focus on the feather’s fine linings, allowing viewers to savor each tiny detail. From the eye of a photographer, feathers become a canvas for art and aesthetic appreciation.