I saved this magnificent orchard swallowtail butterfly from my chooks this arvo, and managed to take some pictures of it. As you could probably see, its left wing is bent so it couldn’t fly, but that didn’t stop it from becoming my living hairpiece.
Photo by Graham Possingham at Mount Hypipamee Crater, in the Atherton Tablelands in Far North Queensland. The crater is a diatreme, with vertical sides close to 100 meters high, made when molten magma forced its way towards the surface, reached shallow underground water, and blew out the overlying rock in a gigantic steam explosion. The crater was discovered by Europeans in 1879, when they almost fell into it.
As for the butterfly - Despite appearances, it’s not one of the Whites (Pieridae), it’s a Nymphalid. Standing on four legs is a clue to IDing butterflies in that family. When a caterpillar, this one feeds on Parsonsia - woody vines of the dogbane family, Apocynaceae.
It’s native to Papua New Guinea, adjacent islands, and part of Queensland.
These were both painted with acrylics, scanned and edited in photoshop.
The last insect. This moth symbolises the ‘product of their union’. I believe that whatever came of their ‘relationship’, however long that is for, would not be a good thing.
By making the metaphor of this a moth, a ‘less beautiful’ version of the butterfly, and by having it fly at the camera and land on the glass, making it look as ‘insect-like’ as possible, I hope to startle the audience. The moth has the colours of the Academic and the Brother (red and white), which appear nowhere else in the film, to indicate it is a mixture of them both. The markings on its wings hint at drops of blood.
The blue butterfly - this is the butterfly the bride plucks from the box and places in her hair in delight. It is a Blue Ulysses, a native Australian butterfly - very striking and gorgeous. I tried hard to capture the luminosity of its wings. A final frame in the film.
The Blue Ulysses flaps as it is held. When viewing reference footage on youtube I was struck at the contrast of the luminous blue upper-side and the dark, dull brown underside. When the butterfly flew or flapped quickly, it looked almost like flashes, quick oscillations between boring and beautiful.
I painted in acrylics the underside brown, as it occurs naturally, and edited it in photoshop. However when animated, it didn’t seem to fit the film well enough, and simply looked kinda bad. I went back and desaturated the underside slightly, which helped, but I was still unhappy.
I decided a purple sheen would tie it into the blue upper-side better, and help it assimilate with the rest of the film. I did this and am very happy with the results!
The butterflies in the box are a mix of real Australian butterflies, and ones from my imagination.