Beetle wings, photo question

This is an experiment in beetle wing and goldwork embroidery. These are wings from the Thai Jewel Beetle, Sternocera aequisignata. The goldwork design is based off of one I found online. Beetle wing embroidery was popular in parts of India and the East, and came to England during the Victorian period by way of the East India Company.

For those of you who know a lot about photography, I also have a question, behind the cut.

I pierced the wings with a sharps needle after steaming them for five minutes, and then attached them and the gold to a piece of felt-backed silk using invisible nylon thread. The gold is Kreinik #7 Japan Gold.

For some reason, once the camera *completely* focuses on the wings, it levels out the glare that makes the goldwork sparkle. In person, there are a lot more highlights. The first photo is just a tiny hair out of focus, and so it still has the light – but it tends to go away once it really locks in. Anybody know if there’s a setting or something I can adjust? I tried taking a few on manual with a variety of settings, but it still auto-focuses, and does the same thing. The best images I was able to get, were outdoors in full sun – indoors, or outdoors in shade, were even more flat.

Using the flash wipes out most of the gold. It picks up a few sparkles, but most of it seems to blend into the red ground.

At certain angles, the beetle wings shift color – they can go toward an almost coppery orange, all the way to a blue purple.

The beetle wing color is actually made by irridescence, rather than pigment. The wings are about as strong as a fingernail; they can break with bending, but are fairly tough against scratching.

57 replies
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  1. admin
    admin says:

    Re: Nice piece of goldwork

    I’d love to do a swap! I did consider different types; the Japanese Gold is what Tanja Berlin recommended. I just used the Kreinik to figure out what I’m doing. Where do you get your T71?

  2. niamh_sage
    niamh_sage says:

    Wow, that’s beautiful! Loved the images you linked to in the comments trail, with the pictures of the dresses and the bag (I”m assuming it was a bag…). I love looking at antique clothing and the way things were decorated.

    Hope you solve your sparkle problem! I wondered if you camera had an automatic polarising filter – that removes the sparkle from water if you take photos by the sea.

  3. fairytailsex
    fairytailsex says:

    This is where an SLR-style camera, digital or print, makes a huge difference because you can control the light reaching the film plane. You will continue to have a flat looking image as long as you use the flash on the camera … try it with tripod without the flash and with early morning or evening sunlight. Adjust the angle until you find a symmetry and light/shadow mix you like. the problem is that the camera is choosing an area of neutral gray for tone and for comparison against the rest of the image. Without conttols you will get some strange effects. Also, don’t use the overhead sun at noon or during the afternoon as it won’t be very flattering to this image at all.

  4. elmsley_rose
    elmsley_rose says:

    I’ve been searching your archives for more on your beetlewing jewellery.
    Only managed about 6 months of subject titles lists back to the end of 2006 before I got distracted doing something else.
    (urgh)

    So far found
    http://oakenking.livejournal.com/153387.html

    http://oakenking.livejournal.com/153387.html

    http://oakenking.livejournal.com/152892.html

    Damn LJ not having a internal search.

    You posted a few months ago – I’ll have to look at end 2007 as well. You mention this is your second attempt so there’s other entries somewhere!

    Can you direct me to any more entries (I’d love to see them – I only know of you and Mary doing modern stuff. Your words on your experiences doing it are also invaluable for when I get around to doing some myself)
    or is it too much bother?

    You’d be in almost the same position as me, wouldn’t you? You have to try to remember when you posted on it, and search your own LJ! (unless you were tagging back then, and I’m just completely blind)

    Absolutely No worries if not.

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