Pigeon Fancier’s Club. Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini
Pigeon Fancier’s Club. Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini

6 Quirky Clubs You Should Probably Join Today

Pigeon Fancier’s Club. Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini
Pigeon Fancier’s Club. Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini

Photography by Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini
Q&A by Kate Erbland

It’s only appropriate that “Hobby Buddies,” a superfun photo series that captures some of the quirkiest clubs and subcultures, was created by a pair of “hobby buddies,” the professional duo of Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini. From kites to chess, plants to poodles, the Swiss photographers lovingly render enthusiast groups into smart tableaus, proving that no matter how niche your pastime, you're never truly alone. We managed to snag the pair and ask them some questions about their craft:  

What sort of professional training have you had?

We both did an apprenticeship as photographers in Basel, Switzerland. Over four years, we worked two to three days a week in a studio for professional photography. We mainly concentrated on fashion, advertising, food, and people for our shoots. During the four years, the other one to two days a week we went to school for art, in the department of photography.

Santa Claus Group.These aren’t new! The first jolly group, the Benevolent Order of Santa Claus, was organized in 1937.

What other artists or styles of art inspire you?

There are so many great works out there. We love a good idea and a good realization! Whether it's photography, painting, sculpture, music. A few examples? Liu Bollin and his photographed drawings, Charles Fréger and his series “Wilder Mann,” Lori Nix with her photographed settings, Kathrin Freisager, the “Strandbeest” of Theo Jansen, Kristof Kintera, and William Kentridge.

Orchid Club.Incidentally, the word orchid derives from the Greek orchis, or “testicle.” In the 1300s, English speakers called it a “ballockwort” for, well, similar reasons.

How did you two decide to work together? What are your favorite parts about having a partner?

Since 2007, we have shared a studio together, so we spend a lot of time together. Both of us work on our own projects. While sharing a studio together, you can support each other and—very important—you don't have to drink your coffee by yourself.

Children’s Chess Club.You know who was also a chess club member? Thomas Jefferson. He often played against James Madison.

How did you come up with the idea to photograph clubs? Which club was the hardest to track down?

One day, Andi asked me if I would like to work with him on a free photography-story for a newspaper. The idea of staged group photography was something I already had in my mind for quite a while. For the newspaper, I adapted and completed this concept for that specific series. At the beginning, we started with a series of eight photographs, then we did another eight, and so on ... now the series contains over 60 photographs.

The poodle club was quite a challenge. The room we needed for our setting couldn’t be too big for this specific idea. We found the perfect place, the size was perfect, the rear wall as background was ideal, and the rest of the room was big enough for our setting and all our studio lights, but with all the owners of the dogs, it finally was quite full. The dogs were perfectly behaved, but we still could take just about three shots.

Poodle Club.Not pictured: Babe Ruth, whose 1921 mascot was a French miniature poodle.

What’s been your favorite project to photograph?

A great thing about a photographic project in general is the concentration on a idea, for a specific period you focus on something. The “Hobby Buddies” were really great to work on. We get in contact with so many people through the societies and the different interests.

Hat Club.Established in 1750, America’s first secret collegiate society was called the Flat Hat Club.

What would you like to photograph that you haven’t yet?

The best ideas are not realized yet.

Kite Club.The kite originated in China around 400 BCE. Legend has it that Han Dynasty Generals would fly them over the walls of a city to measure how far an army would have to tunnel to get past the defenses.

Hobbie Buddies (Kehrer Verlag) by Ursula Sprecher and Andi Cortellini is now available.

Henrik Djärv, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Weather Watch
It's So Cold In One Part of Russia That People's Eyelashes Are Freezing
Henrik Djärv, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0
Henrik Djärv, Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

Oymyakon, a rural village in the eastern Russian region of Yakutia, is one of the coldest inhabited spots in the world. While some schools in the U.S. cancel classes as temperatures approach zero, schools in Oymyakon remain open in -40°F weather. But recently temperatures in the region have dropped too low even for seasoned locals to handle. As AP reports, the chill, which hit -88.6°F on January 16, is cold enough to break thermometers and freeze eyelashes.

Photos shared by residents on social media show the mercury in thermometers hovering at -70°F, the lowest temperature some are built to measure. When thermometers fail, people in Oymyakon have other ways of gauging the cold. Their uncovered eyelashes can freeze upon stepping outside. Hot water tossed in the air will also turn to snow before hitting the ground.

To Oymyakon's 500-odd citizens, the most recent cold snap is nothing out of the ordinary. Temperatures are perpetually below freezing there from late October to mid-May, and average temperatures for the winter months frequently reach −58 °F. On Tuesday, residents were advised to stay inside and stay as warm as possible. Of course, that directive wasn't enough to stop some adventurous locals from sneaking outside for selfies.

[h/t AP]

Even in Real Time, the Northern Lights Look Like a Beautiful Timelapse Video

Nothing compares to seeing the Northern Lights in person, but this video shared by The Kid Should See This is a pretty decent substitute. Though it may look like a timelapse, the footage hasn’t been altered or sped up at all. The undulating green lights you see below are what the aurora borealis looks like in real time.

Astro-photographer Kwon O Chul captured the footage of the meteorological phenomenon in Canada’s Northwest Territories in March 2013. The setting, the Aurora Village in Yellowknife, is a popular destination for tourists coming to see the Northern Lights up close. In the video, you can see how the camp’s glowing teepees complement the colorful ribbon of lights above.

Even if you plan your Northern Lights sightseeing trip perfectly, it’s impossible to guarantee that you’ll get a clear view of the aurora borealis on any given night, since factors like solar activity and weather conditions affect the light show’s visibility. But if you want to know what to expect when the lights are at their peak, take a look at the clip below.

You can check out more of Kwon O Chul's photography on Facebook.

[h/t The Kid Should See This]


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