IN FLIGHT

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

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:

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