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Botanical Chords and Harmonic Notes

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Botanical
Chords

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.

Micrograph  |  Macro Image  |  Merge

Micrograph | Macro Image | Merge

Terry
Ashley

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

My art focuses on plants, which I love plants. But that love is not restricted to pretty flowers, but includes mosses, lichens, and ferns. And like Richard Bell, “Perfect blooms leave me cold. I like a plant with a story to tell.”

In college I literally added another dimension to this love/fascination in a class on plant anatomy (the study of plant structures under the microscope). That dimension? Inside leaves, stems, and flowers. The cell’s micro-structure determines their function—not just in a general manner, but their adaption to their environment.

Although my career took a different turn (the microscopic study of mammalian meiosis), I continued to recreate by looking at plant cells under the microscope. How to combine the micro- and macro- aspects of plants? The answer came during a talk given by Andre Gallant, a Canadian photographer. At the time, film was still the primary means of photography and he was making “slide sandwiches”. He was overlaying two slides: one “the subject”, and the other a “texture” (rain on a windshield, for instance). aH Ha! Layering was a way of combining micro- and macro.

Thus, the images I call “Botanical Chords” were born. More recently I have gathered these into a book “Botanical Chords and Harmonic Notes.” The “Harmonic Notes” are essays and additional images that go into greater depth about some aspect of plants and their interaction with their environment.

 

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