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A recent visit to the Dutch national museum of natural history Naturalis brought the inspiration for this personal project. Their most recent exhibition 'Naturalia' features "stuffed animals, skeletons, specimens in alcohol and curiosities from the University of Amsterdam’s Zoological Museum." Among its treasures are the stuffed remains of the last remaining quagga (a now extinct subspecies of the plains zebra) to die in captivity on the 12th of August 1883 in Natura Artis Magistra, Amsterdam.

I always had a love for natural history museums. To experience the sheer joy of just wandering around in its many halls and marvel about the diversity and beauty of life. Off course there is also the lingering echo of past explorations and adventure. For me – every visit is an almost spiritual one. I’m sure there are many more (amateur) naturalists who might relate to this :)

When I was little I was the very proud owner of two shelves in my bedroom filled with the many wonders of my own explorations into the natural world. I never stopped collecting in fact, as is illustrated by the above photograph. It displays my most recent acquisition: a replica skull of a sabertooth cat (Smilodon californicus), found in the La Brea Tar Pits.

For this project I wanted to evoke still life sceneries from paintings from the 17th century. For this project I constructed an indoor studio with artificial lighting plus I used a light tent for additional supporting shots. The results can be seen below. I'm hoping to add more pics in the future, since I have plenty more ideas on this subject.

Still life with prints from d'orbigny, sea turtle skull, sea urchin skin and an abalone shell. Canon 50D, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, 1s, f/4,5, iso 100, tripod.
Still life with prints from d'orbigny, sea turtle skull, sea urchin skin and an abalone shell. Canon 50D, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, 1s, f/4,5, iso 100, tripod.

A still life with nautilus shell, Regal Thorny Oyster shell, bird feather, springbok skin, looking glass and French hunting sword. Canon 50D, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, 2s, f/4,5, iso 100, tripod.
A still life with nautilus shell, Regal Thorny Oyster shell, bird feather, springbok skin, looking glass and French hunting sword. Canon 50D, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, 2s, f/4,5, iso 100, tripod.

Still life with d'orbigny prints, sea urchin skin, candle, sea turtle skull, abalone shell and a early copy of Darwin's Voyage with the Beagle. Canon 50D, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, 1,3s, f/4,5, iso 100, tripod.
Still life with d'orbigny prints, sea urchin skin, candle, sea turtle skull, abalone shell and a early copy of Darwin's Voyage with the Beagle. Canon 50D, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, 1,3s, f/4,5, iso 100, tripod.

Detail of a sea turtle skull. Canon 50D, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro, 2,5, f/16, iso 100, tripod.
Detail of a sea turtle skull. Canon 50D, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro, 2,5, f/16, iso 100, tripod.

Detail of the skin or test of a sea urchin. Canon 50D, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro, 5, f/16, iso 100, tripod.
Detail of the skin or test of a sea urchin. Canon 50D, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro, 5, f/16, iso 100, tripod.

Detail of Goliath beetle on a print of d'orbigny. Canon 50D, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro, 1/60, f/2,8, iso 100, tripod.
Detail of Goliath beetle on a print of d'orbigny. Canon 50D, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro, 1/60, f/2,8, iso 100, tripod.

Detail of a Regal Thorny Oyster. Canon 50D, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro, 1, f/8, iso 100, tripod.
Detail of a Regal Thorny Oyster. Canon 50D, Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM Macro, 1, f/8, iso 100, tripod.

Detail of the iridescent inside surface of a abalone shell. Canon 50D, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, 1/80, f/7.1, iso 100, flash.
Detail of the iridescent inside surface of a abalone shell. Canon 50D, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, 1/80, f/7.1, iso 100, flash.

Still life with a replica of the Berlin specimen of Archaeopteryx lithographica. Canon 50D, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, 1/320, f/4.5, iso 100.
Still life with a replica of the Berlin specimen of Archaeopteryx lithographica. Canon 50D, Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, 1/320, f/4.5, iso 100.
 


New photos: Still life with naturalia