A series of dioramas constructed in the studio by photographer Daniel Shipp that shuffle nature, geography, and physics into familiar but fictional environments.
The unremarkable plants are staged against the backdrop of common urban environments which become storytelling elements on their own and invites the viewer to imagine their own narratives.
Daniel’s visual approach was inspired by Robert John Thornton’s Temple of Flora – a series of engraved plates commissioned in the 18th century that depicts unusual botanical specimens in the form of darkly romanticised illustrations with an otherworldly aesthetic.
In these compositions the physical characteristics of the unremarkable plants I have collected become storytelling elements which, when staged against the backdrop of common urban environments, explore the quietly menacing effect that humans have on the natural world.
From a subjective and ambiguous point of view we witness the plants ability to adapt and survive.
By manipulating the optical and staging properties of photography with an analogue “machine” that I have constructed, I have produced these studio based images “in camera” rather than using Photoshop compositing.
They rely exclusively on the singular perspective of the camera to render their mechanics invisible.
The Great Basin Bristlecone Pines, or Pinus longaeva, is a long-living species of tree found in the higher mountains of the southwest United States. Bristlecone pines grow in isolated groves in the arid mountain regions of six western states of America, but the oldest are found in the Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest in the White Mountains of California.
These trees have a remarkable ability to survive in extremely harsh and challenging environment. In fact, they are believed to be the some of oldest living organisms in the world, with lifespans in excess of 5,000 years.
Bristlecone pines grow just below the tree line, between 5,000 and 10,000 feet of elevation. At these great heights, the wind blows almost constantly and the temperatures can dip to well below zero.
The soil is dry receiving less than a foot of rainfall a year. Because of these extreme conditions, the trees grow very slowly, and in some years don’t even add a ring of growth. Even the tree’s needles, which grow in bunches of five, can remain green for forty years.
To think any one of these lifeforms exists in our galaxy, let alone on our planet, simply boggles the mind.
Photographer Steve Axford lives and works in the Northern Rivers area of New South Wales in Australia where he spends his time documenting the living world around him, often traveling to remote locations to seek out rare animals, plants, and even people.
But it’s his work tracking down some of the world’s strangest and brilliantly diverse mushrooms and other fungi that has resulted in an audience of online followers who stalk his work on Flickr and SmugMug to see what he’s captured next.
Axford shares via email that most of the mushrooms seen here were photographed around his home and are sub-tropical fungi, but many were also taken in Victoria and Tasmania and are classified as temperate fungi.
The temperate fungi are well-known and documented, but the tropical species are much less known and some may have never been photographed before.
Mushrooms like the Hairy Mycena and the blue leratiomyces have most likely never been found on the Australian mainland before, and have certainly never been photographed in an artistic way as you’re seeing here.
It was painfully difficult not to include more of Axford’s photography here, so I urge you to explore further.
All photos courtesy the photographer. (via Awkward Situationist)