Photographer Terry Ashley, Botanist Terry Ashley, Camera and Microscope, Micrograph, Fine Art Nature Photography

Terry Ashley Botanicals


Terry AshleyI am a self-taught artist with a scientific background. My tools are not brushes and paint, but camera and microscope.

I well remember the first time I saw Indian Pipe - a delicate non-green plant that looks like it is carved from wax. My mother sent me to a wild flower book to find out for myself why it was non-green and how it compensated for not manufacturing its own food through the production of chlorophyll.

This encounter launched a dilemma that continued for years. Was my main interest SCIENCE or ART?

Opportunity led me into science as a first career. I received my BA in Botany from Duke University, where my favorite course was Plant Anatomy, the study of plant structure under the microscope.

After receiving my PhD from Florida State in Genetics, I indulged my curiosity and pursued my search for beauty and order by studying meiotic chromosome behavior under the microscope.

During the last 19 years of that career, I was a Research Scientist at Yale University School of Medicine. Throughout my career, I photographed plant parts under the light microscope. (These photographs are called micrographs.) I participated in a number of Nikon "Small World" competitions (an International competition for micrographs), and received several awards.

While searching for a way to combine a micro image with a more recognizable view of the plant subjects, I attended a presentation by Andre Gallant, a Canadian photographer. He was creating "slide sandwiches" that consisted of a "subject" slide and a "texture" slide.

It was an "Ah ha" moment for me when I realized that here was a way of combining the two types of images and led to the creation of what I call "Botanical Chords." For more about how these are made see "What are Botanical Chords?"

As a scientist I always considered microscopy an underrecognized art form. Now that I am retired my mission as an artist is to raise awareness for and appreciation of the beauty that lies just below the level of resolution of our own eyesight.

- Terry Ashley