Stunning Black and White Photos of Exotic Animals Aren’t Quite What They Seem

Lucus Landers Black and White Film Photography

The incredible black and white film photographs of Lucus Landers seemingly highlight the beauty of the animal kingdom. But, look a bit closer and you'll notice something else at play. His grainy, artistic images of animals in their natural habitat aren't quite as they appear.

For Wildlife, the Brooklyn-based photographer didn't have to join an exotic safari to bring home these stunning images. He just needed to purchase a ticket to a museum. By shooting on high ISO film for maximum grain, he transformed a day at the Museum of Natural History in New York into the perfect set for a photoshoot. All the animals pictured are actually part of the museum's scenic displays, but through clever camera usage Landers is able to mask the “fakery” and produce images that at first glance appear as though they were taken in the wild.

“In person, the painted backdrops fool no one, but through the single lens of a camera, they are transformed into sprawling landscapes,” Landers tells My Modern Met. “The animals themselves border on the uncanny valley when viewed in real life, but the thick grain hides any and all imperfections in the taxidermy.”

In this way, he was able to capture the glory of an elephant and the majesty of a seal all in one day without having to step foot on an airplane. Landers, who also makes his own cameras, demonstrates how clever photographers can manipulate reality through their artistic choices. Even without digital manipulation, viewers can easily fall into the fantasy created, mistaking it for reality.

Lucus Landers' black and white photos appear to be incredible images of wildlife in nature.

Lucus Landers - WildlifeLucus Landers Film PhotographyLucus Landers Film Photography

But the reality isn't as it seems.

Lucus Landers Black and White Film PhotographyLucus Landers Film PhotographyLucus Landers - Wildlife

All the photos were actually taken at the Museum of Natural History in New York.

Lucus Landers Black and White Film PhotographyLucus Landers - WildlifeLucus Landers Black and White Film Photography

Through clever use of his camera, at first glance, the taxidermied animals appear real.

Lucus Landers Black and White Film PhotographyLucus Landers Black and White Film Photography

Lucus Landers: Website | Instagram

My Modern Met granted permission to use photos by Lucus Landers.

Related Articles:

Interview: Extraordinary Up-Close Photos of Kenyan Wildlife by Anup Shah

Conserving Africa’s Wildlife Through Photography

How the Development of the Camera Changed Our World

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
Become a
My Modern Met Member
As a member, you'll join us in our effort to support the arts.

Sponsored Content