Beautiful Fragments, 2010
Back in mid 2010 I discovered a lens from Canon, the MP-E 65mm. Its a dedicated macro lens capable of capturing up to 5x magnification on a full frame sensor. Its used for scientific and forensic work as well as lots of people shooting insects. Hmmm… “bugs” didn’t really interest me until I saw some mounted butterflies in a store display over in the SF bay area. They were beautiful (even if dead) and looking closer at them the dots connected for me. I soon purchased the lens and began using how to learn it. At its lower magnification settings it has a shallow depth of field and getting enough light in poses related challenges, at its higher magnification settings (3.5-5) you have very little depth of field and are extremely close to the subject.
I called a company (butterflyutopia.com) that sells mounted (and naturally deceased) butterflies and moths and had a nice chat with who I assume was the owner. I explained what I wanted to do and asked if he had a ‘parts bin’ of broken or partial wings. He sent me a wonderful little tray of what I’ll always think of as beautiful fragments.
The gentleman (Paul IIRC) helped me ID several of the fragments and I used the web to identify about half the remaining fragments. These insects can have different fronts and backs, tops and bottoms, and are different between male and female.
I put a nice show together at one of my old Modesto haunts (Deva Cafe) and did well enough to cover my costs, which for a show in Modesto isn’t bad. I have a number of these prints packed away for another show someday, or a host of Christmas presents – but they are for sale – just email me.
There are really some amazing colors and textures in these “bugs”! This was one of my favorites above, and some are just begging to be turned into textile prints like below.
When I shot these focus stacking wasn’t an easy accomplishment like it can be today (almost automated) so these were hand layered and masked. The depth of focus is very thin so shooting images like these today would be that much better, in addition to the performance of today’s DSLRs.
I made a nice little hardbound book through blurb and gave them away to a few good friends and my folks.
If you like these images I’ll invite you to have a look at the whole collection here. Someday I’ll do this project again, but bigger. I want to shoot one butterfly at this same scale – it would be huge – like 15′ across. Would be an amazing installation…