Today, I'm launching Metamorphosis, a new line of photographic images unique to Jake Mosher Photography, based on the natural beauty of butterfly and moth wings as seen at extreme magnification through my camera's lens.
This is the culmination of a fascination with butterflies which began when I was a boy, a need to push the bounds of photography, intertwining traditional imaging with artistic design, and a desire to gift the world something unique and beautiful.
This began on the floor of my kitchen one winter afternoon last year when, after attempting to photograph snowflakes outdoors using a stacked, reverse-lens macro technique, I took a few photos of the wing of a sunset moth, the world's most colorful insect. I was blown away by the lovely "scales" on the wing, shimmering like fine, Australian opal, revealed by the extreme magnification I was shooting at. I'd never seen anything like them, unaware that Nature produced anything so gorgeous.
A quick Google search took some of the wind out of my sails when I saw that I was far from the first to view a butterfly's (or moth's) wing this way. Still, I was convinced that somewhere in the image I'd taken lay the foundation for a new type of art. All I had to do was unlock it. Change it. Help it, through a metamorphosis not unlike the caterpillar goes through, become something all its own.
I began a painstaking process of splitting my image, mirroring parts of it, reversing others, fusing pixel to pixel to create a symmetry as perfect as the insect itself. Spellbound, I watched as a geometric pattern began to emerge, full of color and intricate design, but without so much as a single imported object, one shade of color altered, or the "drawing" of any artifacts. Hours later, as I stared at the world's first Metamorphosis design, I could hardly contain myself.
Of course, nothing in the arts is ever particularly easy, and while I struggled with exactly what to call what I'd created, and even with what to do with it, this work took a back burner to more traditional types of photography.
In July, I was extremely fortunate to have one of my night sky images chosen by the Sunday Times as a photo of the week. Shortly after it ran, I received a call from Jeff Vickers in London, who began our conversation by telling me that he was willing to bet that I'd never heard of him, but that I wouldn't ever forget our talk. He was right on both counts, though I'm somewhat ashamed that I hadn't heard of him - Jeff is one of the world's premier photographic pioneers who has, over the course of a career more than 60 years long, racked up more accolades than most photographers could dream of. With a motto of "excellence is my passion," he has set the bar in everything from photography, to printing, to advertising. When he asked me to send him a few of my photographs, I included one of my Metamorphosis images.
Jeff was interested in this photograph and, as the ambassador for the Royal Photographic Society, invited me to join this wonderful organization. We have since developed a friendship, and I can say whole heartedly that Jeff Vickers is not only a fine photographer and credit to the profession but, more importantly, he is a fine man. He has been unfailingly encouraging of my Metamorphosis endeavor, has been instrumental in securing a feature on this art in the February issue of the Royal Photographic Society Journal, and has helped every step of the way to see that these images have been certified unique to me.
It was Jeff's wife, Barbara, who, while on vacation with him in the Alps, hit on exactly what my Metamorphosis images are. "They are photography and art intertwined," she said, perfectly summing up this body of work. My great thanks goes out to both Jeff and Barbara.
I know that I'll be asked how exactly I create this art, and while I won't bore with technical details, I will show one before and after example from Vietnam's blue clipper butterfly. The images below represent the initial photo - comprised of over 100 separate images all taken at microscopically-different focal lengths to achieve depth of field - and then a finished Metamorphosis design. Thank you all for looking!