eNews Archive > September 2013
Sky Factory eNews - September 2013

Sky Factory: The Way Nature Works…

"Where do you get such beautiful pictures?" is a common question asked within minutes of viewing our nature images.

Whether it is a wall or a ceiling that defines the spatial boundary, the artists at the Sky Factory use the power of unique natural images to confound our expectation for our immediate environment; lying on a linear accelerator table, surrounded by six feet of concrete on all sides, I look up through trees into a stunning blue sky with early morning clouds – and it's so believable!

Even skeptics are lost in the beauty of the high resolution photography and the high definition digital cinematography of natural events that underlie all Sky Factory products.

In the dry heat of mid-July, windless scenery and not a stir across 900 sq. miles of high desert.

This is why Sky Factory compositions are best described as biophilic illusions of nature. They deliver the sky's unboundedness and the harmony of natural landscapes where the reality is unavailable – in the heart of the city, behind walls of concrete – Sky Factory brings the vastness of the sky inside.

Enlivening our innate connection to nature – biophilic enlivenment – has well-established benefits for mind and body. This is why Sky Factory only creates images of pure natural beauty without signs of civilization or discernible human intervention – pure nature, even images of pure nature, triggers the most potent biophilic benefits of calm and well-being. Evidence of this philosophy can easily be found west of the Continental Divide.

In America's Great Basin, the low humidity and high altitude is largely responsible for the magic behind the deeper blue hues and rich saturation of the skies. In portions of Eastern Oregon, the amazing range in altitude – from 4,000 ft. to 9,700 ft. – takes place within a mere 20 miles, giving rise to some of the most beautiful and pristine skies anywhere. The atmospheric conditions here are ideal to transmit the healing grandeur of the sky.

This summer a group of Sky Factory artists, photographers and videographers immersed themselves in the changing skies and landscapes of America's high desert. Scouting all day for that undiscovered vantage point from where to quietly observe the way a natural habitat or scene ebbs and flows, each artist was able to contribute to the unique aesthetics of Sky Factory's nature compositions.

Pelicans in silhouette glide at dusk on their way to their night's rest.

Part I – Summer Wetlands
Under the immense skies and wide expanse in eastern Oregon, Sky Factory artists search for beautiful atmospheric conditions starting at 4,000 ft. above sea level. Ponds, creeks and seasonal lakes here are famous for their concentration and great diversity of wildlife. Hundreds of bird and dozens of mammal species can be observed in their natural habitat using a little bit of stealth, good planning, and the patience to get great footage.

"We aim to record one to two hours of unedited pristine nature," says Radim Schreiber, Sky Factory's award-winning photo/videographer. "When we compose a HD digital cinema shot and press the record button, we remove ourselves entirely from the area to allow the scene to progress uninterrupted. This requires that we observe and record at the same location multiple times. That way, we learn the weather patterns, the movement of the sun, and become aware of wildlife behavior.

"Since we must commit to long recording sessions, we must ensure that our compositions steer clear of the sun's trajectory to prevent lens flares in the image, as well as insure that our camera and audio equipment is set up correctly. We triple check all the fundamentals like the lens's depth of field, tripod mounting, camera exposure, hard drive space, battery life, etc. There's zero room for error in unattended recording since mistakes are costly.

"We also need to remove ourselves from the audio recording sessions to allow the birds to maintain their natural flight trajectories; approaching the filming area rather than circumvent it. Most importantly, without humans present, birds will not change their calls from their usual territorial banter to alert mode.

Improvising on location, videographer Radim Schreiber scouts for Ibis through a telephoto lens.

"As the natural progression from sunset to dusk or from predawn to sunrise gradually moves across the frame, it creates serene transitions of light and shadows that few of us can witness in our daily urban living," adds Radim.

Sky Factory's artists' hard work pays off when patients undergoing radiation treatment, workers in cubicles without views to the outside, or a bed-bound elder experience some peace and well-being by tuning into our installations to witness nature's royal pace. It's an experience of timelessness that's healing and restorative because it reminds us that we are connected to the beauty of the natural environment.

"One night, as we were leaving, we froze in our tracks and witnessed about a hundred white pelicans fly over our heads in their characteristic V formation. We could hear the faint sound of the air as it eddied unseen under their wings," says Radim. "To hear that delicate sound pierce the vastness of that silence was a remarkable highlight of our trip."

Next month: Part II – Brooks, Moss & Clouds in the High Desert

Sky Factory's AIA Continuing Education Course Now Online For Everyone

The Biophilic Illusions course explores the valuable contributions that illusions of sky can make to the health and well-being of people in enclosed interior environments.

Sky Factory, an AIA CES Registered Provider, offers Biophilic Illusions, a visually rich introductory course that explores illusions of nature products in light of the Biophilia Hypothesis and Biophilic Design. Biophilic Illusions earns AIA members 1 LU towards their annual continuing education requirements.

Biophilic Illusions is offered free to groups, typically scheduled over the lunch hour. The course is now also offered online for free to anyone interested in the topic (AIA members who want to receive credit must pass a brief exam available at the end of the online presentation).

Biophilic Illusions is a fifty minute presentation where you'll learn how integrating biophilic illusions into architecture can infuse the healing, comforting and refreshing properties of nature into the built environment. Topics include Biophilia, Biophilic Design, illusion, and illusions of nature. The course also reviews the purpose, creation, and applications of sky-image ceilings.

To learn more about the course, arrange for a group presentation, or to take the course online, please visit our AIA Continuing Education page.

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