Botanical Chords, Plant Micrographs, Plant Microphotographs, Terry Ashley Botanicals, Fine Art Nature Photography

Terry Ashley Botanicals
Botanical Chords - PlantBotanical Chord - MicrographBotanical Chord
TOP: Photograph of Dogwood berries. CENTER: Micrograph of the Dogwood. BOTTOM: The combined image.


Botanical chords are composite images of two aspects of the same species. One image is a traditional one of a plant: a flower, leaves, or a seed pod, The other image is taken at a higher magnification (most often under the light microscope). The later image type is called a micrograph.

The micrograph reveals cellular details that are seldom seen, while providing background texture. It is usually taken with phase optics that allow visualization of unstained biological material.

However, in order for the light to penetrate and reveal sufficient details, the specimen must be only a single cell layer thick. To achieve this I generally try to peel off the epidermis (outer) layer of the cells of a leaf, petal, or stem. In some cases I use commercially prepared sections. In a few instances I use a second macro.

I usually conceive the idea for a chord, then search for the components. I strive for out of focus foliage or other uncluttered background, for it gives me a blank canvas to portray the cellular pattern.

I often shoot at least half a roll of both the macro and the micro images to increase the likelihood that I can match a pair for a good merge. If I miss, it is likely that I will have to wait a year for another opportunity.

When people ask "How long it takes to make an image," it is quest for an ideal match that often takes the most time. I have "halves" that have been waiting for years for their perfect partner!

I still shoot slides since it is easier to superimpose the various combinations to get a feel for the best pair. Once selected, I scan the pair and begin adjustments in Photoshop.

The variability in appearance of cells from different species and different parts of the plants is one of the exciting aspects of this on-going project.