ECO Art + Science Series: The Sustainable Art of Emily Bryant

On today’s ECO Art + Science Series I’m pleased to introduce the sustainable artwork of Emily Bryant. When Emily first contacted me through the biocreativity blog, I was awestruck by her work, which in many ways channels the iconic collages by Eric Carle (of The Very Hungry Caterpillar fame). Though, where Carle transforms colored paper into his widely recognized plants and animals, Bryant puts pressed invasive plants to work in her collages of invasive insect species. It’s not often you meet someone with the degree of simultaneous training in the arts and sciences that Emily has achieved. She pursued a double-major in Sustainability and Studio Art (along with a nifty minor in biology) at Baldwin-Wallace College. She even created her own course in Sustainable Art to research the environmental impact of fine art materials with stunning results. Her invasive-species collages and digital nature photography collages are created entirely from sustainable materials. I am glad that we both live in Austin, Texas, where I have been lucky enough to view her meticulous collages in person and assist her in collecting more invasive plants for her next series. As I head out the door to meet Emily on the Lady Bird Lake hike + bike trail to do more collecting, I hope you enjoy her thoughtful interview for the ECO Art + Science Series.

**UPDATE 4/16/12  Emily currently has 9 pieces of sustainable native species art hanging at Cafe Josie in Austin, TX until May 26th! 1200 B west 6th Street, Austin, TX 78703**

[biocreativity] Welcome to the biocreativity blog, Emily! What type of work do you do?

[EBB] As a specialist in the field of sustainability, I help reduce operating costs of companies by decreasing utility and natural resource consumption. I also use a lot of creative problem solving to make products and processes more sustainable. I have experience with a governmental organization, small local business, large international business, and multiple non-profit groups. I’ve worked with wildlife, engineers, automobile mechanics, park rangers, city legislatures, artists, and ecologists, and I’ve found that as long as I can be creative and make a positive contribution to environmental protection and promote stewardship, I am fulfilled. I love exploring and photographing natural areas.

Native Texas Aquatics. Digital photo collage © 2011 by Emily Bryant. Sustainably made prints available from

[biocreativity] Emily, where do you see yourself on the biocreativity spectrum? Closer to the arts end or the science end?

[EBB] I think I fall right in the middle! I went to school at Baldwin-Wallace College in Berea, Ohio, where I double majored in Studio Art and Sustainability, with a focus and minor in Biology.

[biocreativity] That’s an impressive combination of credentials! How do you view the interaction of arts and sciences? What’s your take on how these disciplines interact?

Torpedo Bug. Collage, pressed invasive plants and plant-based glue © 2011 by Emily Bryant. Sustainably made prints available from

[EBB] I think creativity is a necessity in the sustainability field. You really have to have a holistic viewpoint and be able to balance many different disciplines and the concerns of many different stakeholders. I love the challenges involved in trying to find sustainable solutions that improve a product or process and save companies money. When people say the term innovative, I hear creative.

In positions I’ve held in the past, my employers have realized that my creativity was an unexpected asset. I’ve used creative writing, photography, filming, drawing, and graphic design to enhance marketing for sustainability initiatives companies were pursuing. They were thrilled with my ability to share sustainability messaging in such captivating and appealing ways. I think arts enhance the sciences and take them to another level. I feel that many people in the sciences can get so caught up with processes and data that they forget to take a step back and remember how incredible the subject matter they are studying really is. I think the arts enable people to share their research and passions with those outside of their academic disciplines on a very personal and captivating level, and I sincerely believe it is critical that scientists share more of their work with the general public.

The Magical World of Pollination. Digital photo collage © 2011 by Emily Bryant. Sustainably made prints available from

I was lucky in that I could sit in a biology class and admire the human body for its complexity and functionality and later go to a life drawing class and admire the human body for its beauty and form. My photography professor told me that the few science majors in his classes produced some of the best work. My invertebrate natural history professor, happy that I was using my art to teach others about insects, told me that we needed more creative people in the sciences. The natural world has always inspired me and is the motivation behind my art.

[biocreativity] It sounds like you had an amazing art-science experience at Baldwin-Wallace! Emily, what are your current art-science projects?

[EBB] The goal of my first series of sustainable art is to educate people about invasive species. Invasive species are species that have been introduced to an area purposefully or accidentally that harm ecosystems by out-competing native species. Some invasive species that have been introduced purposefully were originally intended for a good cause, such as pest removal, but it can be difficult to know all the impacts a foreign species can have in an environment. To make this artwork, I collect and press invasive plant species and layer them using a plant-based glue to form collaged images of invasive species. So far, I have been making insects, but plan on making other invasive animal species in the near future. In some of my pieces I have also featured the native plants that the invasive insects destroy to show people what impact the species are having on local ecosystems.

Japanese Beetle. Collage of pressed invasive plants and plant-based glue on paper © 2011 by Emily Bryant. Sustainably made prints available from

Native species are the focus of my second series of artwork. Many of these images have a fantastical or ethereal quality to them because I want people to see nature in the same enchanting way that I do. These pieces are made in Photoshop by stripping away the original colors of a picture and manually adding new ones, or by layering multiple pictures together in order to form a new image. These photographs are printed on sustainable bamboo paper by a company that runs on 100% green energy. Many of the animals featured in this series are also insects because after taking an Invertebrate Natural Science course where I had to make my own insect collection, I really began to observe and appreciate some of the incredible invertebrates of our world. I think most people don’t even notice insects when they are outside. As one of the most misunderstood types of animals, I thought it was important to show people how fascinating and compelling these species could be. Featuring native species was very important to me because I want people to become in touch with natural areas on a local level and get them passionate about protecting these places.

B-W Native Plants Garden (You're More Beautiful When You're Open). Digital photo collage © 2011 by Emily Bryant. Sustainably made prints available from

[biocreativity] I think the collages are particularly impressive. They’re so delicate, and the cutouts so intricate it looks like they must have been very painstaking to construct! What is your inspiration for these series?

[EBB] My idea to create sustainable art began when I decided to try combining my two disciplines. Having studied some material and product chemistry, I began to realize how unsustainable and harmful a lot of the art materials I had been working with really were. This led me to create an independent study Sustainable Art course with my art advisor. The objectives of the course were to create art with various sustainable materials that would educate viewers on different environmental issues. I had just accepted a sustainability internship with the Cleveland Metroparks at the time, and invasive species management was a big focus area of theirs. This inspired me to make artwork featuring invasive species because I knew that so few people in the greater Cleveland area were aware of the devastation that was occurring in our parks, especially from species like the Emerald Ash Borer.

Emerald Ash Borer. Collage, pressed invasive plants and plant-based glue on paper © 2011 by Emily Bryant. Sustainably made prints available from

[biocreativity] What does the emerald ash borer do to affect native species? Why is it so important that we know about the effects of invasive species?

More than 50 million ash trees in the midwest are estimated to have been killed by the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), whose larvae eat through the tissue between the bark and wood of Ash trees, disrupting a tree’s ability to transport water and nutrients. Adults emerge from Ash trees and feed on its leaves in late spring or early summer. The adults then lay eggs, which promptly hatch and feed on the Ash tissue for one to two years before maturing into adults. Trees usually die over the course of a couple years. EAB was brought to Michigan from Asia from wood on boats. It has since spread to more than one dozen states, commonly through individuals transporting firewood. A large portion of suburban trees are ash trees, planted to provide shade and reduce energy costs. So far, we have no way to deter the spread or destruction caused by the EAB. It causes billions of dollars in damage each year and threatens to destroy most ash trees in North America. Do your part by not transporting fire wood and reporting signs of EAB infestation observed locally. Instructions on where to report EAB signs can be found by searching for EAB in your state online.

Other invasive species I have collaged include the Japanese Beetle, which feeds on roses and other ornamental plants in Ohio; the Cactus Moth caterpillar, which feeds on the Prickly Pear Cactus; and the Torpedo bug, which feeds on a variety of ornamental plants. I am planning on collaging one of the invasive species of ants in Texas next. I will continue to collage insects, but may branch out to other animals, such as birds, in the near future. It all depends on the materials I am able to find and what colors they are.

Cactus Moth Caterpillar. Collage, pressed invasive plants and plant-based glue on paper © 2011 by Emily Bryant. Sustainably made prints available from

[biocreativity] What is the most important thing that you want others to know about your work?

[EBB] I want people to look at my artwork to know what is at stake. I want them to look at my series of native species art and show them all the incredible and overwhelmingly beautiful organisms that are right outside their doors. I want them to know that natural areas can be enchanting, spiritual places that are a breath of fresh air when we are feeling drained in our lives. I want them to know that if we keep carrying on consuming the way we do, they might lose something beautiful that they never knew existed.

Ruby-Throated Hummingbird. Digital photo collage © 2011 by Emily Bryant. Sustainably made prints available from

I hope that through my invasive species art, people will begin to learn about and appreciate native species to stop the invasives from spreading. I think many people believe that scientists have all the answers, but invasive species show us that there are tangible consequences for being careless with foreign imports and purposeful introductions of exotic species. The United States may lose all of its ash trees from the Emerald Ash Borer, and there is nothing we can do right now except collect ash tree seeds for the future. I would love for people to know the positive impacts of growing native plants in their yards, such as mitigating harsh weather conditions and providing food and habitat for native species, some of which may be endangered due to habitat loss.

[biocreativity] Emily, I think that’s a very strong message, and a very creative way of conveying that message.What’s next for you in art + science? Where do you see your projects going, or what would you like to do next?

[EBB] I plan on continuing both series of artwork. Having just moved to Texas in August 2011, there are plenty of native species for me to photograph and collage. There are also many more invasive species to feature! I may move into pests and invasive animals outside of the insect world. I am considering making collages of native species out of native plants, but then I’d have to find a way to not feel guilty about collecting the native plants…

Find Us in Ohio's Parks. Digital photo collage © 2011 by Emily Bryant. Sustainably made prints available from

[biocreativity] What got you started in the arts?

[EBB] I have been making art since I was a child, but my current artwork where I am combining art and sustainability has meant more to me than any other work I have done. It gives my art a sense of urgency and makes me want to share it. It has helped me articulate my sustainability education and connect with and reach people in ways that wouldn’t have otherwise been possible. I think I’ve found my artistic niche and it gives me renewed inspiration, joy, and pride in my artwork. It’s really refreshing to work on art that you feel is unique when there can be a lot of redundancy in the art world.

[biocreativity] Do you have any advice for young artists and scientists who might be thinking about getting into art-science projects?

[EBB] I would tell them to absolutely go for it, young artists especially. Going through school and struggling to find out who you are in the face of difficult social situations can really damage your self-esteem. Your art is always a talent that you can feel good about. No matter what, no one can take that away from you. Art is always there for you to express yourself, learn about yourself, and grow as a person. Creativity is what has made the world we live in possible and what will continue to make our quality of life better. I think creativity needs to be appreciated more in our society and especially in our schools. Being both left and right-brained can open up an entire world for you that many people never get to explore. Art is a way for you to communicate with the world and I think the sciences need to be available to everyone, not just other scientists in the field.

[biocreativity] How can the biocreativity readers find out more about your work?

[EBB] I have an Etsy shop with prints of my artwork for sale, and jewelry that I make for enjoyment. I am also working on finding more sustainable products to feature my prints on. So far, I have made prints on recycled content note cards. You can check them out on I can also be found on LinkedIn.

Long-horned Beetle. Digital photo collage © 2011 by Emily Bryant. Sustainably made prints available from

[biocreativity] Emily, I hear you’re also looking to start a career in sustainability here in Austin, what types of work are you interested in?

I have found that as long as I can be creative and make a positive contribution to the environmental field, I am more than happy. I enjoy being challenged and look forward to the opportunity to contribute sustainable solutions to different environmental problems in Austin, whether that be through writing, product or process design, the protection of species and wild places, or helping green businesses grow.

[biocreativity] I can’t wait to see what comes next for you in the arts and sciences, Emily. Thanks for sharing your talents with the biocreativity blog! [Note to potential employers: hire this talented and creative woman before someone beats you to it!]

Nikon Small World Photomicrography Winners

So, I’m behind the times by a few weeks on this one, but I just have to tell you all about the winning photographs in the 2011 Nikon Small World Photomigrography Competition that I read about in this article and photo gallery in Popular Science. They’re amazing! For example, sand:

Yanpin Wang's photo of sand at 4x magnification.

I’ve had a particularly fun time browsing the Nikon Small World website, which features a gallery of incredible images, a photo-of-the-day and a daily 5-photo Identify the Image quiz. You can even get your very own calendar of Small World images.

Dr. Donna Stolz's collage image of stained animal cells assembled into a wreath.

The next competition deadline is April 30, 2012 and features both still image category and a Small World in Motion (movie) category. Click here to enter your work!

images for outreach, research and conservation

On Monday afternoon I had the chance to learn more about from Liana Vitali, who led a workshop at this year’s Ecological Society of America meeting in Austin, TX. My first thought upon entering the room (a few minutes late) was: “Where is everybody?”. About a dozen participants from a registered crowd of over 3,600 ecologists came to the workshop to learn more about how this website can contribute to our research, outreach and teaching and how it can be used to satisfy just plain old biological curiosity. I thought the low attendance was strange since this year’s theme is Earth Stewardship which seems pretty in line with ARKive’s mission. And – is it just me – or does there seem to be a growing sense within our field that we ecologists should be doing more to help increase public awareness of what we do? If so, shouldn’t we be taking advantage of as many free resources and training opportunities as possible? As I’ve mentioned before on the biocreativity blog, I think wildlife photography and nature documentaries are two of the most compelling biocreative media for illustrating natural phenomena and introducing broad audiences to the biodiversity of our planet. does just that. Produced by Wildscreen, a non-profit organization, its mission is to increase public understanding of wildlife, biodiversity and its conservation through wildlife imagery. Wildscreen is behind, among other things, the “world’s largest” wildlife and environmental film festival, the Wildscreen Festival. One major figure behind is the late Christopher Parsons, former head of the BBC’s Natural History Unit and the project has a few notable spokespersons including Dr. Sylvia Earle, Dr. E.O Wilson and Sir David Attenborough (indeed).

ARKive features species profiles with photos and videos of all species listed on the IUCN red list of threatened species. John Hanke of Google Earth fame has recently joined the ARKive team, and as a result you can view ARKive images directly within Google Earth (layer included in GE download) or within the species profiles. All of the images within ARKive have been donated by organizations, professional photographers, researchers and natural history broadcasters. The great part is, you don’t have to ask permission for private, scientific, educational and non-commercial uses. For example, if you would like to use a photo or video for an academic presentation or for use in your K-12 classroom, feel free! Have another use in mind? Just ask permission. Contact information for the photographer or filmmaker is attached in the bottom right corner of every image by clicking the “Credit” link.

There are several ways contribute your images or expertise to First, ARKive has a “most wanted list” of species for which they need good images and videos. Most species profiles also have a shared Flikr gallery on which users can contribute additional photographs directly. An added benefit of contributing images is that the entire online archive of ARKive is backed up on both US and UK servers, so if you contribute and then somehow loose your data, you’ll have at least two backups of contributed images. If you have expert knowledge to contribute to particular species featured in ARKive, you can offer your help to review and write profiles by emailing If you’re at the ESA meeting you can view the most wanted list and get in touch with Liana at the booth in the exhibit hall. Finally, the ARKive and Universities program allows graduate students to create and review species profiles, providing them with an opportunity to contribute their knowledge and get published online.

Personally, I can’t tell you how helpful it would have been to have had access to ARKive’s videos (linked below) of ‘Akiapola’au – a rare Hawaiian forest bird – when my colleagues and I were presenting results of our research on the foraging ecology of this bird nearly a decade ago. ‘Akiapola’au is so rare we saw it only once in two summers of field research. Explaining the feeding behavior of this bird verbally is so much different than being able to transport your audience to the field via a short film. My only complaint so far is that you can only embed fairly small thumbnails of photos and links to videos like the ones of the ‘Akis below. One way around this is that you can download the videos and re-post them for certain limited purposes (or with permission), but the ability to embed videos (on blogs, for example) would be nice. Nevertheless, this is a cool tool. How will you use

ARKive video - 'Akiapola'au - overview ARKive video - 'Akiapola'au feeding ARKive video - 'Akiapola'au feeding and calling

Biocreativity on the Road: ESA 2011

SUNDAY, SUNDAY, SUNDAY! Grab your laptop, bring your reusable coffee mug, some Clif Bars, fill that water bottle and, actually…why don’t you just learn how to pack for a scientific conference already and get yourself to the 96th annual meeting of the Ecological Society of America that starts on Sunday, August 7th, 2011 in Austin, Texas! Don’t forget your deodorant, folks, because the lineup of biocreative events at this year’s meeting is HOT, HOT, HOT!


Biocreativity is the first order of business on SUNDAY as ecologists learn to create and tell stories with powerful images with Molly Mehling, Neil Losin, Nathan Dappen and Neil Osborne in Photography for Ecologists: Part 1 (WK 5, Sun 8/7 8am-5pm, 13 Austin Convention Center. Registration required). The workshop will begin and end at the conference center, but hands-on field exercises will take place at the University of Texas’ premiere urban field research station Brackenridge Field Laboratory (with a little tour of BFL from yours truly)!

Hyla green treefrog photographed at Brackenridge Field Lab by Director Larry Gilbert.


MONDAY is jam-packed with biocreativity, so try and figure out when you’ll have a chance to even eat anything. Remember those Clif Bars I told you to pack? First, do you want to learn the most efficient, effective and creative means for researchers to engage in broader impacts? Find out in Nalini Nadkarni and Amy Stasch’s special session Outreach as Burden Or Benefit?, as research ambassadors speak about their experiences (SS5, Mon 8/8 10-11:30am, 4 Austin Convention Center). Next, learn to use audiovisuals to promote endangered species protection, conservation and education with a FREE (Yes, FREE!) workshop by Liana Vitali of (WK 25, 8/8 11:30am-1:15pm, 14 Austin Convention Center). In the afternoon, find out how researchers can creatively engage the public in conservation and sustainability programs in Vicente Lopes and Adrian Vogl’s organized oral session Community Engagement for Sustainability: Linking Research, Policy and Education (OOS 1, Mon 8/8 1:30-5:00pm, 16B Austin Convention Center). Could we develop a curriculum that engaged students alienated from local nature, and cultivate basic skills for lifelong learning about environments? Could a Texas sorority girl be encouraged to acknowledge aspects of environmental awareness suppressed in an urban social campus? I’d kind of like to find out, so I’ll be there!

On MONDAY evening, you’ll have to choose between auditory or visual stimuli. MONDAY is the first evening of Musician’s Central where you can just sit and listen, or bring your instrument and jam with other musically-inclined ecologists (Daily M-F 5:00-6:30, Registration Lobby, Austin Convention Center). Now comes the choice! Since you will be visiting the Live Music Capitol of the World, you’d probably enjoy An Evening of Music: Live Performance by ESA Musicians hosted by none other than Nicholas Gotelli (yes, that guy who wrote the primer). If any of you biocreative types want to perform, you can sign up on the music and ecology session page (SS 11, Mon 8/8 7-10pm, 17A Austin Convention Center). If you are more visually inclined, you can put photographic images to work in your own research or for public outreach with another FREE workshop, Photography for Ecologists: Part 2 (WK 28, 8/8 8pm-10pm, 18A Austin Convention Center).


Moving on to TUESDAY…..well, TUESDAY seems fairly academic, but you can take the time to explore how photography and multimedia projects can aid scientific research and outreach via the ESA Student Section Eco-Vision competition organized by photographer Molly Steinwald. Formerly the Eco-Arts Festival, the Eco-Vision contest continues to, “celebrate and award outstanding visual arts contributions made by ESA members to ecological science through still photography and multimedia creations”. In years past, the photography submissions were on display at the ESA Student Section booth in the exhibit hall. No word yet as to where they’ll be on display this year, but I’ll find out and keep you posted. The ESA Student Section Business Meeting & Awards Ceremony (Tues 8/9 6:30-8pm, 7 Austin Convention Center) is the likely place to view the multimedia submissions and meet the winners of the 2011 Eco-Vision competition, but again, I’ll keep you posted. You can check out the 2010 winners here.

In the absence of anything more biocreative to do on TUESDAY, I’ll be giving a talk at 9:20am in the Conservation Management session (COS 33, 8-11:30am, 19B Austin Convention Center) on my research on the endangered Barton Springs Salamander, which features some original artwork by my aunt Victoria Harrell of Conroe, TX. If you really want to get your salamander fix, you can join my field trip to Barton Springs to learn more about these endangered critters and for some chilly snorkeling in Barton Springs pool (FT 18, Tues 8/9 4-8:30pm, registration required).

Life History of the Barton Springs Salamander

Illustration by Victoria Harrell and Hayley Gillespie, Life History of the Barton Springs Salamander. If you want to know what the numbers mean, you have to come to my talk!


Now, I’m sure all you biocreatives out there are excited about the new Natural History Section of ESA (founded in 2010). After all, some of the most elegant examples of biocreativity come from the field of natural history (need I even mention the names Audubon or Haeckel?). I’m sure you’re also aware of what session organizers Joshua Tewksbury, Stephen Trombulak and Kristen Rowell call, “the steady loss in the practice of natural history” over the past 75 years. If you’d like to be part of its revival, make sure to attend WEDNESDAY’s symposium, A Natural History Initiative for Ecology, Stewardship and Sustainability (SYMP 13, Wed 8/10 1:30-5pm, Ballroom E Austin Convention Center). Later in the evening you can also meet up with fellow natural historians at the ESA Natural History Section Mixer (Wed 8/10 6:30-8pm, Radisson Hotel Old Pecan Street). Unfortunately, yours truly will not be in attendance, but if you’ve got something more active in mind, join me as I help lead FREE guided hikes of our local field research station, Brackenridge Field Laboratory, starting at 7pm (2907 Lake Austin Blvd, for directions and transportation info please download our flyer or see our event on Facebook).

Take a FREE tour of the Brackenridge Field Laboratory starting at 7pm on Wednesday 8/10.

Take a FREE tour of the Brackenridge Field Laboratory (2907 Lake Austin Blvd) starting at 7pm on Wednesday 8/10.


On THURSDAY there’s a whole lot of outreach going on in the session on Stewardship, Education and Outreach (COS 104, Thurs 8/11 1:30-5pm, Ballroom B Austin Convention Center). I’m particularly excited about talk #9 in this session after some mutual twitter appreciation with @CanopyinClouds, the creators of Greg Goldsmith will be talking about this “immersive, web-based platform for K-12 earth and life science educationon THURSDAY at 4:20pm.

Creators of the multimedia website will be giving a talk at ESA 2011.

ESA THURSDAY ends off with more Musician’s Central followed by the Austin Night For Nature concert benefitting local environmental groups. Don’t miss one of my favorite artists Alejandro Escovedo in what is sure to be a memorable event at the theater where they now film the TV series Austin City Limits (Thurs 8/11 8pm, doors at 7pm, Austin City Limits Moody Theater, Tickets $19-30 at Waterloo Records or online)! It doesn’t get much more Austin than that!


I know you’ll be sad because its the last day, but don’t miss the latebreaking poster session on Ecological Knowledge, which features some posters with biocreative themes (PS 82, Fri 8/12 8:30-10:30am, Exhibit Hall 3, Austin Convention Center). There will be posters on Developing tools and applications to visualize, manage and disseminate biodiversity information (84), Using science to promote inclusive education: An example exploring marine biodiversity using all of the senses (86), and Focusing on Nature: Educating about biodiversity, ecology, and conservation using digital photography (94).

around town

If you have time to check out some art in Austin while you’re here, consider visiting the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center. They always have some great biocreativity on exhibit, which currently includes Vibrant Blooms: original paintings on silk by Catherine Beatty Flowers and Aqueus Matters: sculptures by TJ Mabrey. The Austin Museum of Art and Mexic-Arte Museum are both located on Congress Ave downtown, which is very close to the Austin Convention Center. The Harry Ransom Center and Blanton Museum of Art are located on the University of Texas at Austin campus. Don’t forget to see the bats fly out from under S. Congress bridge, and check out Dale Whistler’s Night Wings sculpture right across from the Austin American-Statesman building on the south side of the river. You might also like to seek out more of Austin’s art in public places collection. CowParade, “the largest and most recognized public art event in the world”, is currently visiting Austin, with more than 100 cow sculptures painted by local artists installed around town. Finally, if you feel like traveling south, you can also see my post on biology + art in San Antonio, TX.

Mexican Free-Tailed Bats emerging from the S. Congress bridge in Austin, TX. Photo by H. Gillespie.

Mexican Free-Tailed Bats emerging from the S. Congress bridge in Austin, TX. Photo by H. Gillespie.

Enjoy your trip, and don’t forget to share the biocreativity you see by posting a comment below, or using the twitter hashtags #biocreativity and #ESA11!

nature time-lapse

I really enjoyed reading about (and especially watching) Neil Bromhall‘s oak seed time-lapse featured yesterday on New Scientist’s Time-Lapse Tuesday.  How come I didn’t know about Time-Lapse Tuesday yet!? I mean, really, what kind of rock have I been living under? I have always been somewhat of a time-lapse junkie and am usually left in awe of even the most basic of time-lapse projects, which allow the often “slow” pace of nature to be visualized and appreciated by us humans.

I know I’ve got a long way to go before my work is quite as good as that, but time-lapse is very fun to try. Here is my first time-lapse title page that I made for the biocreativity blog, and I plan to have a new one each month which you can view on the biocreativity vimeo channel:

biocreativity | july 2011 title from h. gillespie on Vimeo.

Of course, technology is always evolving and allowing filmmakers to do some pretty amazing things. I mean, have you seen the incredible stuff the BBC Nature crew has been up to (covered a while back on Moving Image Source)? You can see some of their amazing footage on the BBC Nature Video Collections site. Unfortunately I can’t embed these because I’m not in the UK, but here are links to a couple of my favorites. The first is a six month panning time-lapse of a woodland, and there’s a great documentary about how this was done at the end of the Life episode in which it is featured. My other favorite is of the Antarctic marine invertebrate scavengers. The incredible thing about this one is that it can help inform us about behaviors of these animals that would be hard for us see if we just sat around McMurdo Sound freezing our butts off. Here is one I found that I could embed, about tropical plants climbing to the forest canopy to get sunlight. Amazing!

See why I put my humble little time-lapse before these? Incredible! You don’t even remember having watched mine after seeing those, now, do you? Hopefully, you can see why time-lapse is one of the most compelling media for educating others about biology. Time-lapse not only brings “slow” nature to life, but is also inherently impressive for the amount of time and energy it can take to produce a good one. You might also enjoy Wired Science’s Top 10 Time-Lapse Videos that Show Nature at Work or Mashable’s Nature in Time-Lapse: 10 Awe-Inspiring Videos. I hope you enjoy and share time-lapses that you’ve come across (leave a comment below with links to them!). Maybe you should also try making one yourself in whatever system you work on or enjoy. It’s very easy now with just a camera and either Mac or Windows movie software. A quick web search for “make time-lapse video” will result in plethora of tutorials and advice. Adventure Journal, for example, has a good article on making your own time-lapse videos. You can even use your iPhone! There’s a good tutorial on the iPhone app TimeLapse at Digital Urban. Go ahead…your video just might blow someone’s mind!