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.