Audubon: How Xavi Bou Makes His Mesmerizing Portraits of Birds in Flight

“I don’t want to show a bird flying,” says photographer Xavi Bou. “I want to show a flight.”

Although Bou has dedicated years of his life to photographing birds, someone encountering his work for the first time could be excused for having no idea what his subject is. In a project called Ornithographies, he creates mesmerizing images by taking many photographs per second and stitching up to 3,500 or more of them together. The results are beautifully abstract, capturing the energy of flight, whether in the chaotic squiggles that result when Alpine Swifts dive and swoop for insects, or the smooth, even undulations of a gull flying over the water. They may not be moving pictures—although Bou uses a cinema camera that takes 60 frames a second—but they have movement.

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