Art

“Ornitographies”

A wavy black streak marks the take-off trajectory of a bird

If birds left trails in the sky, what would they look like? This is the question that haunted photographer Xavi Bou and inspired him to create his “Ornitographies” series. Using video of birds in flight, he combines frames to construct these snapshots of flight. In them, birds become streaklines feathered with wingbeats.

I love how the technique highlights the patterns of flapping flight. A bird flying steadily over a lake becomes a wavy line with consistent, perfectly matched up- and downstrokes, whereas a bird just taking off has short, fast wingbeats that slowly lengthen and steady out as the bird gets aloft. Flocks of birds turn into a tornado of swirling lines as they land or take-off en mass. (Image credit: X. Bou; via Flow Vis)

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