Nature’s Best Extraordinary Exhibit

The Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History currently has a “Nature’s Best” exhibit featuring the 2011 winners of the Windland Smith Rice International Awards. The exhibit features photographers from all over the world in all different categories relating to nature. Each image represents a beautiful part of nature full of color and detail.

While looking at all of these amazing photos, the thing that stood out to me most regarding elements and principles of design was color and texture. Whether the photo was of an animal, water, or a plant the texture was so detailed as if you could feel exactly what the image felt like just by looking at it. The color in each photo also stood out tremendously. There was no black and white images which I think says a lot about how diverse and radiant nature is. The element of line was used intelligently in the images, most portrayed horizontal lines which signify rest and relaxation. The majority of the animals looked relaxed and in their comfort zone in the photos. I noticed that in all the of the photos the animals face was the center of the image creating a sense of balance and equilibrium. Even in the images of plants, water and nature the eye was drawn to the center of the photo. Movement was represented skillfully in the images of water and nature. Specifically the image that won the People In Nature category, the flow of the surfer in the water depicted a great deal of movement. I honestly don’t think I could pick out one image that was the best, they were all breathtaking and incredible photos.

The exhibit’s theme is clear but leaves the viewer amazed that photographers are able to capture some of these amazing shots. The captions nearby each image really tell the story behind the shot. They also give the viewer a sense of what the photographer liked best about the photo and what they think stands how the most. The captions gave me a realization of how dangerous some of these images must have been to capture. Referring to the reading of “Kodak’s Top Ten Tips”, the photographers followed many of these tips. The first and maybe most important tip of getting down on their level was portrayed in every picture. The second tip of using a plain background was used in many of the photos of the animals which made them stand out more. Also moving in close and locking the focus was depicted in the majority of the images.

The “Natures Best” exhibit left me speechless and in awe of the talented photographers picked to win the awards of the different categories. Looking back I think the texture portrayed in the images really stayed with me and left me amazed. Glancing at the photos makes you really feel as if you could touch the animals and feel the softness of the fur or roughness of the skin. The mission of the photographers to capture the best image they can is definitely accomplished in this exhibit.


“Top Ten Tips.” Kodak. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Feb. 2013. <>.


Carol Guzy’s Remarkable Photography

Carol Guzy is a documentary photographer who reveals an emotional and vulnerable side in her photos. She was born and raised in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania and continues to purse an associate’s degree in nursing from Northampton County Area Community College. Instead of being the aspiring nurse she worked so hard for she decided she wanted to become a photographer. This interest all stemmed from her boyfriend giving her a 35-millimeter camera in which forced her to enroll in a photography course. Guzy is quoted in the article stating “I failed the class, but I found my place, my passion” (Jaffe). In 1980 she graduated from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale with an associate in applied science degree in photography. While she worked towards her photography degree she interned at the Miami Herald to gain experience and was eventually hired after graduating. After eight years in Miami she moved to Washington, DC as a photographer for The Washington Post (The 2011 Pulitzer Prize Winners). Her photographs have won three Pulitzer Prizes and three Photograph of the Year awards in the National Press Photographers’ annual contest (Carol Guzy). Two of the three Pulitzer prizes were awarded for Spot News Photography for her work in Haiti and at a mudslide in Columbia. Her third Pulitzer was for her coverage in Kosovo for Feature Photography (The 2011 Pulitzer Prize Winners).

Carol Guzy’s photographs speak for themselves. They are powerful to the eye and evoke a deep underlying emotion. At first glance at one of her photographs the viewer doesn’t pay attention to whats displayed in the photo or what kind of lighting was used. The feeling they get from the image is the first thing to strike them. Her skills to document particular moments of time are unpredictable and breathtaking. The next three photographs are some of my favorite works of hers demonstrating different elements and principles of photography.

The image above is apart of Carol Guzy’s portfolio that won her the Pulitzer Prize in 2000. Two year old Agim Shala is passed through the barbed wire fence as members of his family are reunited (Guzy). The child is the center and focus of the image, he also is brighter and more apparent than the rest of the components of the photo. The viewer is drawn to the boy’s face because Guzy uses the rule of thirds to her advantage, the face is not the direct center of the image. The photo is also full of spontaneity, non-posed people conveying the emotion they are feeling to the viewer. It is also taken at eye-level which makes you feel as if you are in the same place as the photograph.

As an earthquake killed 230,000 Haitians and left 1.5 million people homeless Carol Guzy snapped a unifying picture (Guzy). A couple walking through the debris, signifying the strength of Haitians to get up and move on. The focus is on the couple because of the existing light creating a contrast drawing the eye to the man and woman. The background plays an important role in the image, creating a sense of realism. Similiar to many of Guzy’s photo’s the emotion is first to grab the viewers attention, the pain the couple feels is felt in the viewer as well.

The image above was captured during a charity boat tour while four year old Memunatu Mansaray imitates the Statue of Liberty. She was brought to the Untied States in 2000 to receive a prostheses after suffering an amputation in West African’s civil war (Oliver). The image demonstrates a shallow depth of field because the young girl is sharply photographed while in the distance the statue is blurry. The photo is taken in a single hue which I think is very powerful in this particular image. Instead of making the photo more realistic with bright colors the spontaneity of this picture portrays a great deal of emotion. The rule of thirds comes into play in this image with the girl’s arm perfectly placed capturing the viewers attention first.

Works Cited:

“Carol Guzy.” The Washington Post. The Washington Post Company, n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2013. <>.

Guzy, Carol. “Eye, Heart and Mind.” Washingtonian. N.p., n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2013. <>.

Jaffe, Harry. “Behind the Lens: Carol Guzy’s Pulitzer-Prize Winning Photography.”Washingtonian. N.p., 27 July 2011. Web. 10 Feb. 2013. <>.

Oliver, Jefferey. “Excerpted from “Liberty and Justice: A Global Photo Mosaic””University of Alaska Anchorage. N.p., 22 Mar. 2012. Web. 12 Feb. 2013. <>.

“The 2011 Pulitzer Prize Winners.” The Pulitzer Prizes. N.p., n.d. Web. 10 Feb. 2013. <>.

The Unity of the Briefcase

Unity works to achieve a harmony of all the parts by combining the elements and principles of design (Jirousek). The most important element is pattern, it is a crucial component for the structure to convey unity (Jirousek). In the National Museum of African Art the piece with the strongest sense of unity was the Briefcase. This colorful piece of artwork was created in 1984 by Undetermined Peoples in Lagos, Nigeria (National Museum of  African Art). The outside of the Briefcase is covered with discarded sheets of aluminum Coca Cola soda cans and the inside is lined with comics. It is eye-catching to the viewer and an unexpected design for a briefcase which is usually thought of as colorless and slim. The use of discarded paper, plastic and metal were needed to create this innovative design (National Museum of African Art). Geometric and organic forms exist in the Briefcase, the regular geometric square shape of the object combined with the organic asymmetrical aspects of the placing of the sheets of soda cans and comics on the outside and inside of the briefcase. The images represented are all realistic, they are recognizable to everyone and are seen throughout society every day. The repetition on the outside and inside creates a pattern and visual rhythm that catches the eye.  This repetition also puts emphasis on the recycled materials, pointing the viewers focus to the comics and soda can sheets. Value and hue are very much present in this piece of artwork. The values contrast creating a spatial illusion and really distinguish the outside and inside from each other (Jirousek). The two main colors on the Briefcase are red and yellow, red signifying energy and excitement. Yellow is associated with the color of sunshine, creating a sense of optimism and modernization (Jirousek). The visual language reflected in this artists use of form relates to modernization. Instead of using fine material or leather the use of discarded materials demonstrates that goods can be made with recycled materials and still be upbeat and modern. The design of the Briefcase shows the artist carefully selected Coca Cola can sheets and popular comics to prove that a dull old briefcase can be turned into something colorful and fashionable. Not only is Undetermined Peoples design aesthetic, it is functional as well. These sorts of briefcases are sold throughout Nigeria because they are practical. The artist is also showing individuals that everyday products can be made from just about anything. The intention that recycled materials is a creative way to design pieces of useful art is conveyed strongly throughout this piece. The Briefcase would have considerable value in today’s society. People all around the world use briefcases for work and other activities. This piece of art demonstrates how a single colored briefcase can be turned into something modern and eye-catching while at the same time going green using recycled materials. This briefcase could sell for profit in many countries because of the creativity and contemporary look it conveys. Undetermined Peoples creation of the Briefcase displays a distinct sense of unity bringing many different elements and principles of design together.

Works Cited:

“Explore the Collection.” National Museum of African Art. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Jan. 2013. <;.

Jirousek, Charlotte. “Africa.” Art, Design, and Visual Thinking. N.p., 1995. Web. 23 Jan. 2013. <;.