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Courtesy of Xavi Bou
One of Xavi Bou’s images depicting the interlocking flight patterns of birds.
IN FLIGHT

Photos: Birds’ flight patterns captured as beautiful pieces of abstract art

By Johnny Simon

Chronophotography, the ancestor of motion pictures, is a 19th-century technique that combines multiple exposures to show movement over time. Images by chronophotography pioneers like Eadweard Muybridge, who famously captured a horses’s gallup, now hang in some of the world’s most important art museums, and recently inspired one Spanish birdwatcher to revive the technique.

Photographer Xavi Bou wanted to document the movements of birds in their natural habitat, rather than in a staged environment like a racing track or photo studio. To do it, he filmed wild flocks flying across beautiful vistas and sunsets, then compressed the individual video frames, capturing mesmerizing movement in a single image. The resulting work, called “Ornitographies,” transforms birds’ flight into looping ribbons of color.

Take a look below:

Courtesy of Xavi Bou
Greater flamingo, Ebro delta, Catalonia
Courtesy of Xavi Bou
Alpine swift, Llobregat Delta, Catalonia
Courtesy of Xavi Bou
Red-billed chough, Utxesa swamp, Catalonia
Courtesy of Xavi Bou
Great cormorant, Ibars swamp, Catalonia
Courtesy of Xavi Bou
Greater flamingo, Ebro delta, Catalonia
Courtesy of Xavi Bou
Black-winged stilt, Ebro delta, Catalonia
Courtesy of Xavi Bou
Little egret, Ebro delta, Catalonia
Courtesy of Xavi Bou
Greater flamingo, Ebro delta, Catalonia
Courtesy of Xavi Bou
White stork, swamp of Empordà, Catalonia
Courtesy of Xavi Bou
European herring gull, Llobregat Delta, Catalonia