Artist and photographer Christian Spencer was standing on his verandah in Rio de Janeiro when he made an amazing discovery. When the black Jacobin hummingbird flew with the sun striking its open wings, a beautiful prism effect appeared. At that moment, it was as if its body was made of rainbows.
In 2011, Spencer recorded the bird’s movements for a film called The Dance of Time. The movie went on to receive 10 international awards as well as three best film honors. But, that wasn’t the end of the rainbow hummingbirds. Several years later, Spencer returned to the subject. “I decided to try and photograph the same phenomenon with my camera,” he shares with My Modern Met. The resulting series is called Winged Prism, and for Spencer, the images reveal “a secret of nature that cannot be seen with our eyes.”
Although Winged Prism seems too magical to be true, Spencer says that there wasn’t any digital manipulation involved. “There is no special technique,” he explains, “just diffraction of light through the wings of this special hummingbird.” The awe-inspiring beauty it produces is what makes these images so special. “Nobody ever could have ever dreamed that this was a reality,” he says. “I receive emails every day from people across the world touched by these images.”
One image from Winged Prism is now available as a limited edition print from Spencer’s website.