Photographs printed on Cotton Rag with Pigment inks using contemporary digital printing technology from exacting photography at extremely high resolution. The methods are found in technologies of today, bringing together digital capture, astronomy photography focus stacking and panorama stitching software on computers,
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As our flock grew I noticed that the most decorated Roosters became the leaders and it was obvious that the fleshy growths on their faces had no apparent practical purpose. Rereading Darwin's "Descent of Man" he describes this as an expression of "Sexual Selection" and makes reference in the book to this particular breed of chickens. The feathers, the crests and the fleshy decorations are advertisements for the health, virility and genetic qualities of the male, on display to impress the female and gain the privilege of procreation. The female is also decorated, but not as obvious, in order to not fall prey to a predator whilst she hatches the eggs. The idea of decoration to appeal to the opposite sex is prevalent throughout the animal and human existence and humans appropriate feathers for decorating themselves over the ages on hats and other fashion. Some cultures wear masks inspired by animals. Borneo aboriginals wear feathers and bodies of "Birds of Paradise" in order to be selected by the women as mates in their rituals. The Paduan roosters dance for the hens and display their wing spread out to show hidden colorful intricate patterns in a gesture that says, I will protect you.
Portraiture was in my view the instrument for projecting power and wealth of people in important positions and in classical art only available to a select few. The Paduan Rooster Portraits show the most important flock leaders at the height of their power and depict the incredible variety of their personalities.
These chickens are very personable and communicative. They know the names that have been given to them and respond when called. They greet you distinctly and enthusiastically when encountered. Very sweet, no meanness.
They will fight fiercely to protect their hens and they will fight among each other to establish and protect the hierarchy. Another expression of "Sexual Selection".
Sexual selection, a concept introduced by Charles Darwin. Depends, not on a struggle for existence, but on a struggle between the males to be selected as a mate by the females. Thus ensuring their genes living on through procreation.
The waddles and fleshy growth on the roosters faces have no other function than to signal the birds health, virility and the quality of their Genes. I first became interested in doing their portraits, from noticing that the largest, brightest waddles often belonged to the flock leader. With his lieutenants also decorated, but to a lesser extent. The hens seek out the most decorated roosters and preen for them. Some of the roosters have smaller waddles, but may have more fantastic crests or beards and/or more colorful, patterned feathers. Sometimes the primary flight feathers have extra color or be the only white feathers on the bird. When dancing the male will fan out his wing, revealing these feathers, while circling the hen showing her this colorful splendor in a gesture that also conveys an intent to protect her. Birds vision has an extended range into the ultraviolet spectrum and so the refraction quality of feathers are also noticed by the females. Breeders have told me that to get a refraction in the feathers, which we can see as well, is quite difficult and requires special care in keeping the birds healthy.
The coloration of waddles and feathers is evolved in response to sexual selection. The physiological condition of the birds (especially males) is indicated by the quality of their waddles and the feathers and this is used (by the females) in mate choice.