Meet the photographer who captures the beauty of birds’ flight paths

Xavi Bou is a chook photographer who doesn’t take footage of birds. He takes footage of flight. And in doing so, his gorgeous artworks ask us to assume past the pure great thing about birds’ actions. Not like different types of movement evaluation, which take a purely scientific method, Ornithographies combines science with artwork, shifting away from early chronophotography strategies utilized by photographers similar to Etienne-Jules Marey or Eadweard Muybridge. In search of a steadiness between data and inspiration, Ornithographies is a undertaking of nature discovery and, on the identical time, an train of visible poetry.


Initially, why birds?

My grandfather shared his ardour for nature with me from once I was a little bit boy. He used to take me on his day by day birdwatching walks within the Delta del Llobregat, and taught me about birds and wildlife.

About eight years in the past, I noticed a paw print whereas mountaineering in a forest in Catalonia and I requested myself: “What sort of tracks would birds depart whereas flying?” I began imagining strains and shapes whereas they soared by means of the sky, and thought: “How can I make the invisible seen?”



How did Ornithographies begin?

I used to be filming a few seagulls flying across the boat on a website positioning/BirdLife birdwatching journey alongside the Catalan coast. Whereas enhancing the video, I seen the wave patterns they made with their wings, and I used to be mesmerised. Let’s imagine that was my ‘eureka second’: after a decade of looking for an inspiring private undertaking that was firmly linked to one thing I used to be captivated with, I had discovered it. And Ornithographies was born.

I didn’t wish to take standard wildlife footage. Alongside my scientific profession, I come from an promoting and inventive background, so I take pleasure in experimenting with the method and wished to supply one thing modern. I consider that, within the inventive enviornment, we have to be creative and never anchored to the previous or to established artwork types.

Making ready the undertaking concerned greater than 5 years of trial, error and technical examine. I found that I wanted to report the birds with excessive decision cinema cameras and knit hundreds of images into one picture to attain the specified impact. My method, regardless of being digital, resembles analogue pictures in that I can’t see the ultimate end result till the tip of the method. As soon as I understood the methodology, I centered on birds and their completely different flight patterns.


How did you’re feeling at first, when every thing was new?

In the course of the early years I used to be in a continuing state of discovery and fascination – and I nonetheless am, as birds continually shock me. I bear in mind going to Aiguamolls de l’Emporda – a preferred vacation spot for birdwatching journeys within the northeast of Spain – on a very popular summer time day and recognizing a bunch of storks. One of many largest challenges of my method is that I virtually don’t see something once I body the digital camera, as a result of I choose to report from afar to get the entire motion. So I arrange my cameras and began recording the storks’ flight.

To my shock, once I merged the pictures, I realised the storks had been flying inside thermal currents and making excellent, stunning shapes that regarded like ribbons flying within the wind. I additionally realised that the actions I search to create for my paintings are, on the identical time, a clue for individuals who want to determine chook species higher.


Ornithography #178:  Murmuration of Common Starlings with Peregrine Falcon, Spain © Xavi Bou


Do you might have a favorite species to work with?

The species I presently take pleasure in most are swifts, that are my favorite birds (after they migrate, I really feel town will get emptier), and starlings. Individuals contemplate them widespread and don’t pay them a lot consideration, however I’d encourage everybody to analyse their flight and behavior. These birds have complicated flight types and transfer in flocks, which permits completely different social interactions like looking for safety from predators, feeding, socialising and so forth. All this enables me to get very attention-grabbing outcomes, whereas including a way of problem to my work.

My undertaking will not be a examine of motion as an evaluation of chook morphology. I need viewers to desert rationality and, when the form of the chook vanishes, to understand life. That is probably the most modern a part of my undertaking: I’m exhibiting motion by means of pictures and altering the notion of time by means of birds.


Often wildlife photographers purpose to indicate the animal, not make them disappear…

Personally, it is vitally essential that the form of the chook has vanished in my footage. Viewers then face a mysterious, natural determine. These days it’s unusual for us to be in entrance of an unknown form, and the fantastic thing about this undertaking is that it permits a viewer’s creativeness to fly! Relying on every individual’s visible and private background, the picture appears to be like like one factor or one other. For instance, on this picture [see Ornithography #41, top of page], individuals have requested me if it’s a digital portray or an image of micro organism by means of a microscope!

I’ve been contacted by choreographers, mathematicians and designers specialising in biomimicry – science that research nature’s fashions, designs and processes, after which imitates or takes inspiration from them to resolve human issues – as a result of they’ve been impressed and interested in the motion or shapes of the pictures.


Ornithography #112: Black Kite, Tarifa, Spain  © Xavi Bou


Have you ever had any expertise with chook migration?

The migration of birds is, for me, the flight par excellence. A residing being that, as a way to enhance its residing situations and observe its intuition, decides to fly unthinkable distances by means of completely different continents going through all type of threats deserves all our admiration. My dream is to journey to completely different websites of migratory significance to have the ability to {photograph} the magic of chook migration and assist chook conservation.

I as soon as went to Tarifa, within the south of Spain, to {photograph} birds migrating to Africa. It was very windy and Africa couldn’t be seen on account of fog over the ocean. I used to be amazed as a result of I may witness how birds paused their migration, patiently ready for the robust winds to go. I went to a area the place I noticed a whole bunch of Black Kites ready for the correct climate situations. Early within the morning, they’d rise and fly towards the wind to examine the ‘climate forecast’. In case you see uncommon shapes on this image [see Ornithography #112, above], the up and down actions are as a result of they ‘suspended’ themselves within the air and, when the situations had been good, they rotated in a loop and began their migration journey.


How can individuals change into extra impressed by nature?

I wish to encourage individuals to understand widespread birds and, once in a while, take a break and take a look at the sky. Nature has the capability to shock and amaze us, taking us again to a curious, harmless mind-set. Birds join individuals to nature, and by observing them with out expectations, only for the enjoyment of it, we are able to enter a state of mindfulness.

Often, when photographers have a undertaking, they dedicate a while to it after which leap to the subsequent one. I’m very happy with giving this one continuity as my ‘life undertaking’. Personally, due to birds and nature I discovered my very own type – I wish to work on it and I nonetheless really feel they are going to present me with loads extra issues to find!


Ornithography #33: Griffon Vulture, Valderobles, Spain © Xavi Bou


Just lately, Xavi Bou has expanded his work to video, creating Murmurations, the place we are able to witness how starlings take part flocks of hundreds, performing a mesmerising dance as a way to confuse the falcons attacking them, and portray the sky with their strikes. While Bou’s artwork walks hand-in-hand with science, his photos not present actuality as we all know it. As an alternative they permit us to witness moments that signify the previous, current and future abruptly – that’s a strong thought to contemplate at this significant turning level in our planet’s historical past.


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