Vestiges: Fauna

I have photographed this freshwater mussel shell every way I could think of to bring out the pure beauty of the subtle pearly colour shifts and the worn layers, but until you pull it out of the shallow icy water at the shore and hold it in your hand under a luminously overcast sky you won’t be able to see just how exquisite it really is.

A good-sized bird skull, I don’t know what kind it is. Perhaps the size of a seagull. Found along one of the breakwaters, over wintered and broken beaked.

All images © Karen McRae

69 thoughts on “Vestiges: Fauna

  1. The skulls are fascinatingly creepy! The mussels are exquisite! It’s as if a whole other universe exists on that shell, which normally is unnoticed. Great eye and beautiful shots with great depth to them!

  2. Lovely images! I like the way you make us stop and really look carefully at something.

    I understand, by the way, that you can bring out the colours in shells by adding a drop of machine oil (that perfectly clear oil – not the thick black gunk!)

    1. The patterns are what caught my eye also, the way the shell had been worn away in layers.
      This shell is taken from a large river, so we don’t get the rounded out pebbles on the shore the way you suggest.

  3. Fascinating macabre images…a little curiosities cabinet..I particularly like the skull, taken out of its environment it becomes like sculpture or modern art…great shadows too..I like this direction – more please!! 🙂

  4. These photos are so exquisite. Karen, you find beauty in nature. Love that! (I remember you mentioned you found the skull in an earlier post. This is the same one?)

  5. The mussel sequence is stunning in variety and execution: the relief contours of the first two; the capturing of texture in the second two;the delicate tones of the Butterfly pair etc culminating in the beautiful natural abstract patterns of the last one. These are superb photos.

  6. I agree that freshwater mussle shells are eye catching. You did a fine job with your shots. When I was a boy playing on the Susquehanna River I would marvel at the colors and hues in those shells. Sometimes when they dried they were prettier. At other times the were duller. I always wondered what one would look like polished. Maybe like the old oyster shell buttons my grandmother used to sew on our clothes. Thanks for sharing Karen.

  7. You pick the most unusual things and transform them into these wonderful images Karen! The fresh water mussel shells could be worn as jewelery!

  8. Beautiful, Karen. My girls love finding the freshwater shells here at our little cove. Everyone so unique and colorful. And the bird skull is odd but what a fun subject for you to examine. Always lovely, your light and shadow –
    Have a great day – Kathleen

  9. You’ve raised the humble mussel to a work of art. And the skulls – can you say a skull is exquisite? Beautiful, Karen.

  10. Intricate patterning on the shell. Great to see it in such detail. And the skull is fascinating. I’ve scrolled up and down the images a number of times, and am still finding something new for my eye to discover. Again, good stuff! 🙂

  11. Wow. Beautiful photos of skeletons. Shells have always captured my attention there is so much beauty to behold in each one.

  12. I am never shocked when you photograph a beautiful landscape but am always throughout shocked by the level at which you elevate specific objects that have little to no aesthetic value to most people.

    Maybe that’s one of the few things that keeps me tied to my childhood– I really find myself struck by the beauty of some of objects you find and present us with. The fourth and fifth photos are, by far, my favorites.

  13. I am drawn specifically to the mussel photos where the composition subverts my normal conditioned response to the subject.

    What I mean is: The first and last two images don’t look like what I would normally consider a mussel shell to look like, due to the way they are composed within the frame. This helps me to react to the color and the form of the object without my brain constantly asserting: “it’s just a mussel shell”.

    I hope that makes some sense. They’re beautiful, regardless of the cerebral stuff.

  14. These are just as visually excellent as your later posts on these themes, Karen! Yes, I am really a time-traveller who can see into the future! Ha!Ha! Just catching up on your posts from the times I have been unable to follow!



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