The beauty of a butterfly is often only observed in the blink of an eye or from a distance; however, photographer Chris Perani manages to capture the enchanting insects up close in incredible detail. His macro photography series showcases the microscopic details of butterfly wings, revealing abstract views of their brilliant colors and striking patterns.
To achieve his images, Perani uses a 10x microscope objective attached to a 200mm lens, which creates an almost nonexistent depth of field. “The lens must be moved no more than 3 microns per photo to achieve focus across the thickness of the subject which can be up to 8 millimeters,” Perani tells My Modern Met. “This yields 350 exposures, each with a sliver in focus, that must be composited together.” This process is repeated 6 times for various parts of the butterfly wing, resulting in 2,100 separate exposures that are then combined into a single image.
It’s no surprise that butterfly wings have inspired the work of countless fashion and textile designers—each of Perani’s magnified wing images reveal layers of multi-colored, feather-like scales that look just like thousands of shimmering sequins. Microscopic hairs are seen dispersed throughout labyrinths of color like wisps of delicate feathers or fur.
You can see even more of Perani’s butterfly close-ups on his website.