Marine camouflage: these colorful underwater creatures are masters of disguise
These underwater creatures are masters of deception so cleverly adapted to their environment that many would never be found without expert knowledge. Brandon Cole, a photographer from Washington state on the west coast of the US, uses his expertise as a marine biologist to hunt for the almost invisible animals.
A Coleman's shrimp camouflaged among spines of a poisonous fire sea urchin in Indonesia
"My pictures show hidden marine life blending into the background of the reef or seabed," said Brandon. "They're hard to find - you don't see them straight away. Sometimes you happen upon them - but many of them require a search pattern. For example when hunting a cowrie snail on a soft coral you have to know it lives in association with that particular coral. So you look for the host and then look for a needle in a hay stack - but you have to know which hay stacks to look for first."
A ridged egg cowrie snail hidden among soft coral in Indonesia
Brandon explains why these creatures take such trouble to remain hidden. "It has to do with survival," he said. "They adapt to their environment through natural selection. Most of these animals are camouflaged against the background of their natural habitat. This increases their odds of survival so they are less likely to be found by predators. Many are small and defenceless so rely on this trick to survive."
A leafy sea dragon in South Australia
The double-ended pipe fish not only looks like the sea grass it lives within but also mimics the swaying motion of the grass as it is moved by sea currents.
A double-ended pipefish among sea grasses in Indonesia
Brandon has travelled the world to capture his pictures, and says: "I think a great place to go to see mimicry in action is Lembeh Strait in Sulawesi, Indonesia. It's an especially critter rich habitat where lots of camouflage is present."
A beardedscorpionfish hides in a coral garden in Indonesia
Another bearded scorpionfish camouflaged against a reef in Thailand
A harlequin crab on a sea cucumber in Indonesia
A peacock flounder camouflaged on sand in Dominica
A hairy frogfish in Indonesia
An octopus camouflaged against sand near a sea grass bed in a shallow bay in Australia
A devil scorpionfish well camouflaged in Hawaii
A speckled sanddab in California
A crocodilefish in Indonesia
A crinoid squat lobster which matches the colour of its host crinoid (feather star) in Thailand
Golden Wentletrap snails laying eggs on cup corals in the Pacific Ocean in Baja, Mexico
A sea star shrimp living on underside of a blue sea star in Indonesia
An ornate ghost pipefish well camouflaged next to a crinoid (a feather star) in Indonesia
Roaring success: The scarily life-like paintings show why 4D is the big new thing in art
By Gavin Allen
Last updated at 1:12 PM on 16th May 2011
You can tell from the smile on this art lover's face that she isn't really in any danger from the pouncing lion that appears within striking distance of her. And the fact that the lion is leaping from a red wardrobe, inspired by the Chronicles of Narnia, tells you something fantastical is occurring in the art world. As 'realistic' as it may look, this incredible painting is simply part of a new exhibition of four dimensional art in North East China.
Famous fantasy: This image inspired by The Chronicles Of Narnia is a striking example of the 4D art on offer in China
Cartoonish quality: Pinocchio's nose juts out from the canvas, allowing this lady to pose as part of the picture for her own photo
Cupid's arrow: The ability interact with the paintings for photographs has been a major draw to the exhibition in Jilin
The collection of paintings, on display at a contemporary art exhibition in the Jilin province, uses techniques similar to the 'stand-up' advertising hoardings that are sometimes painted on the edges of sports pitches. With cunning use of shadow they trick the eye into believing that the images are leaping off the canvas, that arrows are firing towards the viewers gaze from the bows of cherubs, or that Pinocchio's nose is protruding wildly from the frame. The pieces are a huge hit with spectators who have already shown a talent for interacting with the works to become part of the art themselves.
These photographs show how creative fans have snapped themselves holding the end of Van Gogh's paintbrush, shouldering the train of a portrait's flowing dress and, in one clever sideways snap, skydiving from the safety of of the gallery floor. China's artistic community is currently a focal point for the world. It's most prominent artist the acclaimed Ai WeiWei, 53, has not been heard from since he was detained by Chinese authorities at Beijing airport on April 3, for 'economic crimes' - an event which has prompted strong international criticism.
It's not black and white: Even when you know the tricks the artists are employing, you can still be taken in by the levels of depth perception in the images
Beyond the pail: Could this interactive art experience replace a trip to the farm or, right, could it make skydiving a lot safer for those with vertigo?
What's the catch? These girls managed to hook a bear on the end their salmon during a quiet day's fishing at the Jilin gallery
But there is hope that freedom of expression will gain a stronger foothold in China as the country enjoys an incredible surge in the popularity of art. According to a report from the European Fine Art Fair (Tefaf), which opened today in the Netherlands, China overtook Britain as the world's second biggest market for art and antiques in 2010. Back in 2006, China had just a six per cent share of the market and the UK bought as much as 27 per cent. But last year China raked in 23 per cent of the world's art, one per cent more than Brits brought home.
Grand unveiling: Visitors have streamed into the gallery since the interactive exhibition opened
Fill in the blanks: This lady took the unique opportunity to share an easel with Vincent Van Gogh and polish off an unfinished portrait of the artist
Pull the other one: It can take a few minutes of looking at these utterly convincing works of perspective before the eye determines what is happening