If you tour a museum a hundred times over, sometimes it's difficult to imagine the exhibits as anything but "the good ol' standbys." Not to say that they aren't a ton of fun to look at, but they begin to lose the flash and flair they had when you first saw them.
But there are some very creative people out there who can cast a refreshing light on those things at the Smithsonian we hold near and dear. Take, for instance, Pat Abbott's photograph of a toucan at the National Zoo, a finalist in Smithsonian magazine's 6th Annual Photo Contest in the "Altered Images" category. (This means the photographer manipulated the image to enhance its artistic prowess.) The lighting here is much more evocative than the utilitarian lighting in the National Zoo's Bird House. It's as if the bird perched itself in front of a velvet screen and cooed "All right, Mr. DeMille, I'm ready for my close-up," and that was that.
"The bird exhibits were my favorites at the zoo," Abbot says of the photograph. "The Toucan really stood out with those vivid colors and the large bill." The bird is a keel-billed toucan, on exhibit at the National Zoo and, if you'd like to compare, you can check out the their photographs of the bird online.
And yes, according to the Zoo's website, the toucan's diet primarily consists of fruit. I'm starting to crave Froot Loops right about now, how about you?
Smithsonian magazine's 7th annual photo contest is now open for submissions. Every person has a unique lens through which they see the world and if you would like to share your vision with us, go to the photo contest site for more information.