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Four Feline Photographers

Yesterday I read about a documentary film that debuted at the SXSW Film Festival in which the cinematographer was a cat. The item jogged my memory, as I had posted about this same cat back in 2007. He's not the only cat who takes pictures, so let's meet several cats who record their feline adventures in images and video.

1. Mr. Lee

German engineer Jürgen Perthold has a tomcat named Mr. Lee. As tomcats will do, Mr. Lee disappeared as soon as he was allowed outside and didn't come back until he wanted to. Perthold wondered what he did all day in his South Carolina neighborhood, and as you would expect from an engineer, he figured out a way to find out. He attached a camera to Mr. Lee's collar and set it to snap a photo every couple of minutes.

The results were a fascinating look at the world as a cat sees it: Mr. Lee looked at other cats, birds, and other wildlife, and kept an eye on things from underneath various cars. Perthold kept working on the camera device. He designed a harness that would break away under pressure, which puts the camera at risk, but makes the gadget safer for the cat. He added video capability and a GPS tracker. Perthold sells these devices and kits if you'd like to make your own version. He is working on a version that can send a live video feed. The gallery page for Mr. Lee's photographs also shows some of Perthold's customers sporting their CatCams -mostly cats, but also a dog and cow.

While Perthold focused on the engineering aspects of the CatCam, everyone else was fascinated with Mr. Lee's photographs, which were first posted in 2007. Filmmaker Seth Keal produced a 15-minute documentary on Mr. Lee and his photographic activities called CatCam. It premiered last Saturday at the SXSW Film Festival.

2. Cooper

Michael and Deirdre Cross of Seattle were also curious about what their cat, Cooper, did all day, so they rigged him with a camera to capture what he observed. While Perthold the engineer focused on the technical aspects of the CatCam, the Crosses are filmmakers, so they were more impressed with the beauty of the photographs that Cooper came home with. It made them take a closer look at the meaning of photographic art.

"If my cat can take photos prettier than what we've taken, what is art? It asks a lot about the intention behind art and how it's interpreted," Michael Cross said.

Cooper wore the camera one day a week for a year. The project led to an appearance on Cats 101, a series on the Animal Planet network. Some of his best photographs were exhibited at the Urban Light Studios in Seattle in 2009.

Cooper's photographs are also in a book he authored along with Michael and Deirdre Cross called Cat Cam: The World of Cooper the Photographer Cat. Cooper branched out into cinematography with a collar-mounted video camera, which landed him a spot on the Animal Planet show Must Love Cats. You can follow the further adventures of Cooper on his blog and on Facebook.

3. Fritz

German artist Ramona Markstein purchased a CatCam from Jürgen Perthold in 2007 and attached it to her cat Fritz. After a few bugs were worked out, Fritz came home with a set of 200 pictures! Fritz only uses the CatCam twice a week. You can see photographs spanning several years in Fritz's gallery.

Fritz obviously has an eye for nature. Many of his best pictures are of interesting plants, but he also shoots humans and other cats.

4. Leo

Fran Hurcomb is an artist and photographer in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada. Her cat Leo wandered far from home on occasion and Hurcomb was a little concerned. She was looking for a GPS device to attach to Leo when she found Perthold's CatCam site. Leo was outfitted with the camera, and Hurcomb and her friends in Yellowknife eagerly awaited his return each day so they could see where he'd been.

Hurcomb said there were shots underneath cars, fences, and other hangouts of a cat. She would even hear about kids from the neighbourhood picking up Leo and smiling into the camera for long durations until both Leo's and their patience reached its max.

Hurcomb assembled some of the best pictures and exhibited them at the Down to Earth Gallery. You can see Leo's pictures at Flickr.

More Cat Photographers

In 2009, animal behavior specialist Dr. Jill Villarreal attached cameras to 50 selected house cats for Friskies to document what an average cat does when it's out and about. That project was expanded in 2010 when another 25 cats were selected to carry video cameras. You can see the results of that project in the film Cat Dairies.

See also: Five Fantastic Felines and Five Famous Felines.

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François Prost
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Photo Series Shows Paris, France Alongside Its Chinese Replica
François Prost
François Prost

If tourists want to see the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa, and Versailles on their next vacation, they have options. The most obvious choice is Paris, France. Then, if they’re looking for something a bit different, they can visit Tianducheng on the edge of Hangzhou in China, which includes replicas of these attractions in its scaled-down model of the French capital. The resemblance is so convincing that it inspired photographer François Prost to capture both cities and showcase the pictures side by side.

There are Eiffel Tower replicas around the world, but Prost was intrigued by the level of detail invested in Tianducheng. “It seemed more extreme and obsessive,” he tells Mental Floss. “It was planned as a real neighborhood with people living there as they would live anywhere else in China.” So last year the Paris resident booked a flight to the city to document its people and its architecture. The Paris facsimile was built just over a decade ago, but as you can see from the photos below, the aesthetic is lifted straight from classic Europe.

After a week of taking pictures there, Prost returned to Paris where he tracked down the original inspirations of the subjects in his photos. The resulting series, titled Paris Syndrome, pairs each scene with its counterpart across the globe.

If you’re not from Paris or Tianducheng, it may be hard to match the photo to its country of origin. There are a few images that give themselves away, like the Parisian storefronts branded with Chinese lettering. According to Prost, the project “blurs our perceptions of reality. You can no longer tell what is real from the replica.”

After sharing the photos on his website and Instagram page, Prost plans to do a similar project comparing Venice in Italy to its Chinese doppelgänger. Check out the highlights from Paris Syndrome below.

Eiffel tower and replica at night.

Parisian building and replica.

Eiffel tower and replica.

Parisian storefront and replica.

Mona Lisa and replica.

Parisian fountain and replica.

Portraits of city workers.

Eiffel tower and replica.

Paris and Chinese replica.

[h/t Co.Design]

All images courtesy of François Prost.

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Tzvika Stein
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Drone Photographer Captures Stunning Aerial Shots of a Shrinking Dead Sea
Tzvika Stein
Tzvika Stein

The Dead Sea is stunning from above, even if it is shrinking. As Lonely Planet reported, Tel Aviv-based landscape photographer Tzvika Stein uses drones to capture aerial views of the threatened body of water. “It’s beautiful and fascinating and very unique,” Stein tells Mental Floss of capturing the natural wonder that way. Yet it’s often too dangerous for him to shoot his photos from ground level.

The Dead Sea is famous for its salty, mineral-rich water and mud. Tourists visit the famous lake bordering Jordan, Israel, and the West Bank to slather their bodies with sludge—but those who can’t make the trip can purchase beauty products packed with the same natural ingredients. Due in part to this demand, the Dead Sea is rapidly shrinking, as mineral extraction companies cause water levels to dip at rates of up to 3 feet per year, according to CNN Travel.

In addition to salt and minerals, the Dead Sea is filled with sinkholes, many of which are now visible as the lake dries up. It’s dangerous to explore these craters because the surrounding ground might collapse, according to Bored Panda—which is why Stein uses his drone to safely record them from the sky.

Initially attracted to both the lake’s salt textures and its reflective water, Stein says he finds its sinkholes equally riveting, even if they are evidence of the lake’s growing plight. You can check out some of the photographer's abstract landscape shots below, or visit his Instagram or Flickr to view more works.

 Aerial drone photos of the Dead Sea in Israel, shot by Israeli photographer Tzvika Stein.
Tzvika Stein

Aerial drone photos of the Dead Sea in Israel, shot by Israeli photographer Tzvika Stein.
Tzvika Stein

 Aerial drone photos of the Dead Sea in Israel, shot by Israeli photographer Tzvika Stein.
Tzvika Stein

Aerial drone photos of the Dead Sea in Israel, shot by Israeli photographer Tzvika Stein.
Tzvika Stein

Aerial drone photos of the Dead Sea in Israel, shot by Israeli photographer Tzvika Stein.
Tzvika Stein


Tzvika Stein

Aerial drone photos of the Dead Sea in Israel, shot by Israeli photographer Tzvika Stein.
Tzvika Stein

[h/t Lonely Planet]

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