“Up close, they are very armoured creatures, like an armadillo. On the wings, there are veins that pop up and you can see all of the scales buckling.”
For Ruby this was a completely new territory as she wasn’t a trained photographer. Instead, she was recruited for her body-part identification skills.
Typically Ruby spends her days identifying and cataloging entomological specimens, so she was well equipped to hunt out the eyes, feet, palps and proboscis in a sea of scales.
During the stint, she also found out how delightfully different each one was.
“Each wing is unique, you can photograph a male and female butterfly on the topside and underside and they could be four different species.”
Over two weeks, she took 14 pictures of a monarch butterfly that was sourced by the Museum's entomology curator, John Early. To create each image, Ruby snapped 30–200 images at various focus points and then amalgamated them using image stacking software.
She says a fresh specimen was required because the butterflies in the collection weren’t in a proper state to have their glamour shots taken.
“There was a sense of urgency about it because after a few days the eyes collapse. If that happened, we would have to have sent John on another mission to source another fresh specimen.”