KODAK: Take Pictures. Further. The Photographer The Photographer
Intro Faces Animals People Letters and Symbols Eyes The Photographer
  Photographer: Kjell SandVed

A World of Details

Kjell Sandved's personal revelation came more than 25 years ago, while he was working as a volunteer for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. "I noticed this old Cuban cigar box, with a butterfly inside. On its wing was a perfect letter 'F', literally woven into the texture. The proverbial light bulb went off in my head: If one letter appeared in nature, perhaps they all did! And I would be the first to find them."

Sandved soon became a staff photographer for the Smithsonian. His personal specialty was photographing some of nature's tiniest creations -- designs "painted" in the microscopic cells of a butterfly's wing. "I always photograph live butterflies, because museum specimens lose scales and fade."

His quest for a "natural alphabet" took Sandved through the United States, and tropical rainforests and islands around the world. During 24 years of searching, he found several sets of letters from A to Z, and numbers from 1 to 9. As he examines butterflies, moths, and wild plants, Sandved also discovers "many remarkable patterns, which look like faces, eyes, animals, and human figures. I never know what I'm going to see."

  Letters and Numbers found on Butterflies

Sandved usually photographs in the evening or the early morning, when his subjects are relatively inactive. "I never want to disturb or harm them. So I've learned to walk slowly and steadily, right toward the butterfly. Sometimes I can shoot from as close as one inch."

Most of Sandved's pictures are made on KODACHROME 25 Professional Film, because "it's so sharp that I can crop the images as I want them. And the colors are true, including the subtle nuances between the primary colors. I like the fact that it doesn't exaggerate colors." When more speed is required, he switches to KODACHROME 64 Professional Film. "My secret is that I shoot lots and lots of film. I try different angles and various lenses, so I can control the background. Of course, right in the middle of a setup, the subject may fly away."

Sandved recently published these photographs as an 18x24-inch poster titled "The Butterfly Alphabet." It is available directly from Kjell Sandved, P.O. Box 39138, Washington, DC 20016. He can also be contacted at www.butterflyalphabet.com.