15th Annual Palo Alto Weekly Photo Contest
Third Place, Manipulated Images

 

"Pipeline Swallow"
By Dotti Cichon

About Dotti Cichon

Urban entomology, the study of insects in the human-manipulated environment, fascinates Dotti Cichon.

The rapid decline of butterflies and moths in particular due to urban sprawl inspired Cichon to capture the strange juxtaposition of natural beauty and destruction, and the fact that it's sometimes difficult to tell them apart, she said.


Click on photo for larger image.

"The only butterflies and beautiful insects we seem to see now seem to be mounted specimens in museums," she added.

Cichon uses science, and the knowledge that the eye focuses on the foreground, while the background appears to be less focused to make her butterflies and moths appear to be real insects sitting atop of photographs of urban debris.

For "Pipevine Swallowtail," she pinned a specimen butterfly onto a picture of a tractor she photographed at the Alviso dump. The technique enables her "to bring the insect into extraordinarily sharp focus, where every hair and detail is distinctly seen on top of slightly less focused background images."

In exhibition, her photographs are formatted inside shadow boxes, adding to the illusion that the insects are real, and not part of a photograph; but also "to further emphasize the point that, more and more, we'll only see these wonderful miracles of nature in museums."