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Senior Project

"Butterfly Flowers"


Number of works: 10

Dimensions: 8 11" by 14" and 1 16" by 20"

Hours to complete: 33 hours spent at Butterfly House. Approximately 20 hours for studio work, 15 hours for raw editing, 60 hours for photo editing, and 1 week to order and receive prints.

Timeframe: September - December 2006


  • To experiment and gain more experience with the use of strobe lighting.

  • To create a solid and consistent body of works to be displayed in my portfolio.

  • To incorporate in my works the use of canvas printing in order to emphasize texture.

  • To embrace my love to capture the intricate details of nature.

  • To incorporate digital manipulation seamlessly into my photographs.

  • To experiment with angles and composition in regards to photographing flowers.



I plan to develop a body of work inspired by my original "Butterfly Flower". This piece consisted of a flower with digitally overlaid close-ups of butterfly wings to emphasize the texture of the wings on the flower. The piece was later printed and stretched on canvas to further accentuate the texture of the scales of the wings.

All photographs will be taken digitally in RAW file format, which will allow me to have more control over the photo editing process. The floral photography will be done in my own personal studio with strobes in order to simulate natural lighting, but further allowing me to have more control on the overall appearance. This will not only allow me to photograph the flowers without having to worry about the weather condition but also be able to control the lighting so it appears exactly how I would like it to be. All flowers will be bought fresh from florists and due to their fragile nature, the shoots will have to be done the day of purchasing the flower(s). I would like to use a variety of flowers with an assortment of colors such as roses, daylilies, stargazers, hibiscus, calla lilies, gerbera daisies, sunflowers, and many more. I intend on shooting all of the flowers individually with black backgrounds in order to keep the focus on the flower and to help make the color aspect of the flowers stand out. The photos will be relatively close up so that when the wings are applied to the flowers the texture itself will look natural and fully apparent. The butterfly photos were all taken at the Butterfly House in Whitehouse Ohio in the past two summers in order to have enough variety for this project. I took a total of five trips to the Butterfly House with the pure intent of taking photographs of the scales of the wings. In order to do this, I used a 100 mm macro lens with the addition of a 500D close-up filter. This butterfly photo archive includes a multitude of different kinds of butterflies varying in pattern and color.

After all the photography portion is done I will overlay the butterfly wings over the flowers seamlessly in Photoshop in order to make it seem as if the flowers have actual butterfly scales on them. In this process, I will pick out the flower photos that contain the best lighting, composition, and color and I will then go through my butterfly photos to find particular wings I feel will complement the flower. I will then take the wings and apply them to the flowers as seamlessly as possible in order to create the feeling that they are one with the flower. I plan to create more than 9 pieces so can I then pick from the selection the ones I feel work best together as a sold coherent body of work.

The "Butterfly Flowers" will be displayed larger than life-size flowers on canvas in order to evoke viewers to take a closer look at the details of often overlooked aspects of the natural world. The most exceptional piece will be printed as a 16 by 20 and the rest will be printed as 11 by 14. The main reason I want to print on canvas is not only is the quality excellent, but it also puts more emphasis on the texture of the butterfly scales. In order to have these printed, I will have to submit my files to deviantART and place an order for the 10 canvas prints. The canvas prints are printed on Premier Art Water Resistant canvas and have a Giclee Satin Matte and resin coating for durability. The UltraChrome ink used is archival and oil-based. They also have a UV protectant and sealant which helps make them water-resistant. The end product is stretched on sturdy wood frames.


Nature itself is the most important influence on my work. With this series in particular, most of the inspiration came from a single naturally occurring flower. The first time I saw this flower I almost thought it had to be some sort of man made creation just by its appearance. This plant called the Butterfly Clerodendrum also referred to as the "Blue Butterfly Bush" has flowers that are shaped exactly like actual butterflies. The stamen of the flower, which is the stalks that come out from the center create the antennae, four petals shape the wings, and the fifth petal shapes the tail of the back wings. Without a doubt, this naturally occurring flower bears a strong and shocking resemblance to butterflies that would normally be seen drinking the nectar from the flower itself. Often in nature, insects are seen mimicking plant life in order to blend in with their surroundings such as walking sticks that look like twigs, katydids that appear like leaves, and moths that blend in with tree bark, but very seldom do you see this played in reverse. With this in mind I thought that it would be fascinating to create "Butterfly Flowers" not in the sense of looking like a butterfly but instead flowers with butterfly scales covering the petals.

Igor Siwanowicz is by far one of the most amazing insect photographers I have ever seen. Unlike any other insect photographer, he manages to capture human-like qualities in the smallest creatures, especially exotic praying mantids. The lighting, vibrance, detail, and anthropomorphic qualities he attains never ceases to amaze me. Not only is he a master at capturing the human qualities of the insect he shoots, but he also is able to capture natural lighting within an unnatural environment. Almost all of his insect photographs are done in his studio with flashes in order to be able to attain the extreme amount of detail he captures. Despite working in a studio, his subjects do not seem as if they are out of place from their natural environment. The ability to control and capture natural lighting without having to depend on a sunny day is a great capability to have. One piece, in particular, I find inspiring for this project is his digital manipulation titled "Cirque du Soil VI". The piece contains a studio photograph of a pill bug and he has seamlessly applied the texture and color of a lemon onto the pill bug. He has a section that is peeled off the pill bug in order to play on the words pill and peeled.

Earlier this year Joyce Tenneson had a visiting lecture over at IPFW and on her poster for this lecture was a beautiful image of reddish-orange calla lilies on a black background. The lighting was beautiful and the detail and composition of the flower were spot on. Being able to see her photographs is a great source of inspiration for types of flowers to look for as well as compositions and lighting.

A friend of mine let me borrow a book called "Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets, & Philosophers". Wabi-sabi itself is an aesthetic view based on the beauty of the imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Many parts of the book discussed the impermanence of nature and overlooked details. Often times I feel that nature itself has been taken for granted and I hope that when people look at my photographs they take away an appreciation for nature especially in the small details that they may never think about such as the intricate detail of butterfly scales. My favorite quote out of the whole book, well at least my favorite that applies to my project is "Things wabi-sabi are usually small and compact, quiet and inward-oriented. They beckon: get close, touch, relate." (pg 67) I think its quite fitting for my "Butterfly Flowers" as the flowers themselves are small, quiet not demanding of attention and with the addition of the butterfly scales, I hope that it draws viewers' attention to get close and see the textural detail. When an observer sees a butterfly flower at first, it merely appears like a commonplace flower but with a faint addition of pattern that makes you want to get closer, and then as you get close you see the scales that adorn the petals.


Butterfly Clerodendrum Image

Butterfly House

Koren, Leonard. Wabi-Sabi: for Artists, Designers, Poets & Philosophers. Berkely, California: Stone Bridge Press, 1994.

Siwanowicz, Igor.

Siwanowicz, Igor. Cirque du Soil VI.

Tenneson, Joyce.

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