Random Beauty: Firefall at Yosemite

Random Beauty, Thumbs Up

Each February, if conditions allow the seasonal Horsetail waterfall in Yosemite National Park in California to flow, the waterfall appears to be set ablaze by the setting sun. And it’s simply breathtaking!

Flickr Jay Huang Firefall Yosemite National Park

Jay Huang via Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

The event is known as the firefall (apparently as homage to Yosemite Firefall). This photo was posted by Jay Huang on Flickr (CC BY 2.0). Thank you for sharing, Jay!

Random Beauty: Light Diffracts Through Hummingbird Wings

Random Beauty

Christian Spencer has photographed hummingbirds in Brazil’s Itatiaia National Park for years. He’s concentrated on the way light diffracts through the birds’ wings and breaks into a rainbow. The photos are GORGEOUS – here’s just one example:

Christian Spencer Hummingbirds Vitral

Christian Spencer

Wow – the skill it takes to capture the hummingbirds just so!

Found via Colossal. Visit Spencer’s website for more.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Happy Easter Earth Day!

After Hours, Bits in Spaaace!

Today happens to be both Easter and Earth Day. Happy Easter Earth Day, then!

Flickr NASA Goddard Black Marble Africa Europe Middle East

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center on Flickr (CC BY 2.0).

If the above’s the Earth part, here’s the Easter part. 🙂

Flickr Benson Kua Late for Easter

Benson Kua on Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

I love both images, as different as they are.

Hope your week has started enjoyably!

Two Black Amazons from 1400s

Arts & Crafts, Bits in Spaaace!, Thumbs Up

Oh, goodness! An illumination from a 15th-century French manuscript shows two black Amazons. Have a look:

Le secret de l'histoire naturelle, France, ca. 1480-1485, BnF, Français 22971, fol. 2R; via discarding images on Tumblr.

Le secret de l’histoire naturelle, France, ca. 1480-1485, BnF, Français 22971, fol. 2r; via discarding images on Tumblr.

This image has clearly been cropped and edited. My source, discarding images on Tumblr, says the two women are Amazons but gives no more details.

Being an early history nerd, I did some additional digging. Below is the whole page via Gallica, the digital library for the national library of France (Bibliothèque nationale de France, or BnF).

Le secret de l'histoire naturelle fol 2r Full Page

Le secret de l’histoire naturelle, France, ca. 1480-1485, BnF, Français 22971, fol. 2r.

The full title of the manuscript is Le secret de l’histoire naturelle contenant les merveilles et choses mémorables du monde. It was created between 1401-1500, and is currently stored at BnF. The illumination comes from the first part of the book, which presents the great countries and the great provinces of the old world.

Unfortunately, my French isn’t good enough anymore to be confident in my reading; I can understand a word here and there, but not the whole. However, it does look like the first word below the illumination is Amazon.

I’ve cropped into a separate image the bottom left corner of the illumination with the text following immediately after it:

Le secret de l'histoire naturelle fol 2r Amazons

Le secret de l’histoire naturelle, France, ca. 1480-1485, BnF, Français 22971, fol. 2r; cropped.

I just cannot make out the full spelling of the first word due to the ligatures that squish up the last two or three letters. It definitely looks like it’s inflected, though. The sequence ma definitely follows the capital A, with most likely a z and o further along.

It also looks there’s a sigil marking an abbreviation on top of the o, which was very common in handwritten Medieval documents to mark inflectional endings, among others. (Unless it’s a diacritic like in modern French – were they even used in Medieval French? If so, maybe Amazonye? Amazònye? Amazónye?? Amazônye???)

Anyway, it seems that Amazons are indeed talked about on the same page. The larger block of text above the illumination mentions the word affricà, too. (Again, not sure whether that’s a sigil or diacritic on the final a.)

In any case, if the two women aren’t Amazons, at the very least they are heralds of some sort leading a column of warriors. The image details, like the mi-parti dresses, are really neat, too.

Found via MedievalPOC on Tumblr.

And speaking of MedievalPOC, I’ve found it a truly valuable source for types of art imagery that’s not usually included in the canon from the Middle Ages onwards. The site is sometimes a little too interesting: on several occasions, I’ve spent much longer than intended there, happily chasing intriguing details down the rabbit hole. If you’ve got the time to spare, I wholeheartedly recommend it. 🙂

P.S. You can also follow MedievalPOC on Twitter. Happy browsing!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Native American Style Mainstream Genre Icons

Arts & Crafts, Colors, Design & Designers, Geek out!, Stunt Double

Jeffrey Veregge, an artist and member of the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe in Washington state, makes positively fantastic versions of mainstream genre icons like superheroes, movie characters, Transformers, aliens, and the like.

Jeffrey Veregge Early Bird

Early Bird by Jeffrey Veregge.

Veregge himself says of his work:

“This site, the work that is seen on it is a reflection of a lifetime love affair with comic books, toys, TV and film. Taking my passions and blending them with my Native perspective, artistic background and the desire to simply be me. Basically I am just trying to have fun and get back to that kid that went to art school to begin with, wanting to create artwork that I want to see and make just for the hell of it.”

Jeffrey Veregge Shield Logo

Shield by Jeffrey Veregge.

Several of his designs would make fantastic fabric prints, like this Flash-inspired one, for example:

Jeffrey Veregge Scarlet Blurr

Scarlet Blurr by Jeffrey Veregge.

If there was a fabric Flash version, I’d use it for pencil cases, zipper travel pouches, or a table cloth. Or maybe tall, tall shades with a wide border on the bottom; that would look really striking.

Visit Veregge’s home page for more!

Cross-posted from Co-Geeking.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Discoveries: Blade Runner Reality

Movies & TV, Thumbs Up

Ryan Allen set up the Blade Runner Reality Instagram account to share images that look like they could be from the 1982 noir dystopian movie Blade Runner.

Instagram Blade Runner Reality Header

Blade Runner Reality on Instagram.

Photos by Ryan Allen and @thatdudesid unless explicitly stated.

Pretty neat, isn’t it? (Compare to photos from the Blade Runner 30th anniversary website, for example.)

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Discoveries: Miniature Paintings by Lorraine Loot

Arts & Crafts

Another great painting-related find: Lorraine Loots paints incredibly detailed miniatures. Her subjects include a wide variety of items, from everday objects and furry animals to book covers and celestial objects. For example, these paintings of The Hobbit and the Eta Carina Nebula are simply astounding:

Instagram Lorraine Loots The Hobbit

The Hobbit. Lorraine Loots.

Instagram Lorraine Loots Eta Carina Nebula

Eta Carina Nebula. Lorraine Loots.

And a little rabbit for the bunny fans:

Instagram Lorraine Loots Bunny

Bunny. Lorraine Loots.

What a steady hand and keen eye she must have, plus loads of talent. I’mm very impressed! See Lorraine’s website and Instagram account for more!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Discoveries: ElfQuest Avatar Maker

Bits in Spaaace!, Geek out!

Warp Graphics, the publisher of ElfQuest, released a beta version of their ElfQuest Avatar Maker.

I promptly made a version of myself, and Husband did, too. They look very nice combined into one:

ElfQuest Avatars Together

Love it! In addition to the face, eyes, hair, etc., you can choose a background. Too bad that the Evergreen background basically looks like there’s a spruce twig stuck to the elf’s hair; I would’ve chosen it otherwise as a nod to my northern roots. Ohwell. The Spring background is very nice, too.

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.

Hunger Games Visuals: An Internet Roundup

Books & Mags, Geek out!, Movies & TV

This week, leading up to the Mockingjay, Part 1 opening night, I’ll share some Hunger Games themed finds and materials, including tutorials for a simple mockingjay logo felt silhouette and a shoulder bag.

I’m impressed by the concise look that our real world design and PR / marketing forces have created for The Hunger Games world. There is a website for The Capitol, constructed from the point of view of the story world, that includes messages from the citizenry, a series of capitol tv shorts and more. Every detail looks deliberate and carefully considered, and could easily be regarded as products of an efficient propaganda machine. (If videos designated “mandatory viewing” are not propaganda, I don’t know what is!) For example, one of the sections, District Heroes, contains these posters:

Hunger Games Posters Collage

Lionsgate; collage by Eppu Jensen.

On the surface the posters are beautiful, but when you consider the accompanying soundbytes in context, they become eerie. For example, the District 12 poster says: “Lily Elsington, 6, captures the spirit of the next generation of District citizens: ready, willing, and eager to fuel the Panem of tomorrow.” We see the same colors and materials that characterize Distric 12 in The Hunger Games and Catching Fire movies – neutrals, greys and darks, rough textures, worn edges, wood and metal. However, the selection of a six-year-old girl as the face of 12 makes me wonder whether there’s a deliberate hint at child labor to rattle the real world viewer. Props for the design team!

Then there’s the official Hunger Games site by Lionsgate, with cast interviews and costumed stills. (There are very few details of the sets or locations, which is a shame.) Issue 1 introduces the real world filmmakers, the script, District 13 President Coin and a first peek of finished footage. Issue 2 concentrates on Katniss, Gale and the story world film crew assigned to Katniss. The Panem Instagram account(!) provides more of the same gorgeous high-res images of posed characters.

Hunger Games Capitol Instagram Collage

Lionsgate; collage by Eppu Jensen.

Equally deliberate and impressive, albeit quite different stylistically, is the District 13 site.

Hunger Games District 13 Collage

Lionsgate; collage by Eppu Jensen.

Purporting to be messages uploaded into the official Capitol network by rebel hackers, the District 13 site is heavy with visual noise and distorted images. There are a few extremely short video clips and excerpts from story world personnel files. Nice, but compared to the Capitol marketing effort, quite rudimentary, which probably is, again, a deliberate choice.

Having read the trilogy, there will be no major surprises for me storywise. However, the main joy in seeing tv or movie adaptations of books is the visual experience and the screenwriters’ and actors’ interpretations of characters. I’m definitely looking forward to Mockingjay. Almost there!

Note: I wasn’t paid or perked to mention this; just passing along a good thing.