One of the most inspiring creatures on Earth is perhaps the bird with their beautiful wings and ability to take flight. As photographer and Babble blogger Me Ra Koh pointed out while watching a baby bird take flight for the first time: “This little guy was going to have many more jumps. And we all knew that the more he jumped, the stronger his wings would get. The less scary it would be … Will I not allow myself the same time and room to practice?”
In honor of Earth Day, we spoke to award-winning director Louie Schwartzberg about his inspiration behind the new Disneynature documentary Wings of Life, which utilizes riveting high-speed, time lapse and macro filmmaking techniques to showcase the life of hummingbirds, bees, bats and flowers in spectacular detail. Here he takes us through some of his favorite shots and the impact they had on him.
Busy Bees 1 of 9
Seeing the bee collect the pollen makes me appreciate the magical intersection of the animal and plant kingdoms where life regenerates itself over and over again. The contrast between yellow and purple is eye candy for the bee and me.
Beautiful Butterflies 2 of 9
The monarch butterfly's 2000-mile journey from Mexico to Canada is the longest migration of any butterfly on Earth. But it couldn't happen without the milkweed they feed and lay their eggs on. Without this symbiotic relationship the monarchs would disappear.
Up in the Air 3 of 9
The contrasting metallic blue and white colors of the hummingbird are captivating, especially when you can freeze the moment in mid flight.
Timing Is Everything 4 of 9
This is all about being in the right place at the right time. It felt like heaven to be surrounded by millions of butterflies and hear the sound of their wings fluttering.
The Hummingbird’s Song 5 of 9
It takes a lot of patience and observation to anticipate when and where the hummingbird will feed on a flower. This shot of the humming bird in flight was made with a shutter speed of 1000th of a second, in order to freeze the bird and wings in flight. Imagine the precision it takes to "thread the needle" if you're a hummingbird trying to put your beak into a narrow tube while the wind blows both you and the flower.
Better Together 6 of 9
The Monarchs are drinking water from a stream, but what excited me was the composition of the group which looks like a stained glass window. Sometimes you need to let go and not document the event but let your heart and spirit see the universal patterns that touch your soul.
Too Many to Count 7 of 9
I felt like I was shooting over a river of monarch butterflies as each descended down for a drink of water.
Patience for the Process 8 of 9
Patience is key to wait for the moment when the bee spoons itself round the pistils of the poppy. I love the way the bee is cuddling the pistil, which emulates the symbiotic relationship between the bee and the poppy. The contrasting colors of yellow and orange are gorgeous to my eye; I wonder what the pattern is in ultraviolet light, which is what the bee sees.
Let Nature Surround You 9 of 9
When I zoomed in this tight on the orchid flower, it looked like a predator bird coming in for a landing on top of me. Letting your imagination be inspired by the patterns of nature enables you to dive below the surface and feel the spirit of the flower.
Disney’s Wings of Life is now available on Blue Ray and HD Digital. Narrated by Meryl Streep, this documentary reveals the secret lives of butterflies, birds, flowers and more.