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Photos showcase the beauty of bugs

By UCOL on Tuesday, 03 November 2020

a cicada

Tricia Falkner has always been fascinated by bugs and her latest photography exhibition is showing just how beautiful they can be.

Falkner, a Senior Photography Lecturer and Programme Leader at UCOL, is showcasing her work as part of Te Manawa’s BUGS! Our Backyard Heroes exhibition, currently showing until May next year.

Falkner’s photos are the culmination of a six-month research project, which combined art with science and explored how insects can be used for art.

Part of the project had Falkner producing images of insects through macro stacking. This is a photographic technique where you take multiple close-up photos of a tiny object at slightly different focus distances, and then stack them on each other to make an extremely clear image – revealing details and colour not seen with the naked eye.

a dragonfly 

Falkner also collaborated with UCOL Medical Imaging Technology Lecturer Linda Darragh and Carpenters Dental to take x-rays of insects.

“I haven’t seen a lot of images involving x-raying small insects and thought it would be a great opportunity for different UCOL teams and industry to collaborate. It’s quite a task because insects have exoskeletons as opposed to endoskeletons,” says Falkner. 

With BUGS! Our Backyard Heroes coming to town, Falkner was honoured when Te Manawa asked to showcase her work within the exhibition.

The insects are a mixture of those used by Te Manawa for education sessions, bugs Falkner found in her garden, and even a weta her cat caught.

Falkner presented her research findings to students and got her first year Bachelor of Creative Media students to do some macro stacking of their own.

“I compacted a six month study into a six hour class for students! Research is all about knowledge transfer. I wanted to do a project that would be interesting for the students and could also relate to their future industry requirements. They had a blast and the results were impressive.”

With initial showings of the images, there has been interest in purchasing copies of the photos. With her research funded by UCOL, Falkner thinks that it is only fair she donates any money from the sales of her photos to the UCOL Student Hardship Fund.