Photography Transforms a Forest Into a Bio-Luminescent Wonderland

As photographers, much of our time is spent capturing the beauty we see around us. Sure, we might augment what we see through filters or creative editing, but most of the time we’re working with what’s already laid out before us. Artists Friedrich van Schoor and Tarek Mawad, however, wanted to add a little something to the natural world around them. Mesmerized by the bio-luminescence of deep-sea  dwellers, they wanted to see what would happen if the denizens of the forest had the same captivating ability. Here’s what they came up with:

According to Mawad and van Schoor, everything you see in this film was created live, without any effects added in post-processing. The technique they used is called projection mapping, a process wherein a two- or three-dimensional object is spatially mapped by specialized software. The result allows the projector to cast moving images of light onto irregular surfaces, creating extra dimensions to previously static objects (or in this case, natural objects, as the frog and beetle weren’t exactly ‘static’). Usually the purview of advertisers, Mawad and van Schoor use it to create a dreamy, almost other-worldly wonderland of glowing mushrooms, twinkling lichen, and luminescent leaves, frogs, and fungus.

Projection Mapping mushrooms

Projection mapping is a fairly time-intensive process, however, and since much of nature is continually growing and changing, they had to work fast, taking 4–5 hours to both map and film. (If something grows even a little while they’re making their projection map, the projection will end up being off target.) With eight different locations, the overall shoot took six weeks of camping in the forest of Pirmasens, Germany. The trip was so time intensive, in fact, that they were unable to shoot in RAW, as they didn’t have the time for editing. They did have time, however, to create this behind-the-scenes look at their setup and all the work it entailed:

As far as gear is concerned, the duo shot with a Canon 5D Mark II using a Sigma 35mm f/1.4 and a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens. The slider they used for the motion shots was made by Kessler. They used Neat Video for removing the noise (there were a lot of low-level light shots!).

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