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Live Animal Studies


Thought to be the first reflection and rainbow transmission holograms of living animals,

created using a ruby pulsed laser, 1984 - 1987.

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Royal Falcon - Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinus), 1984.

Copyright Richmond Holographic Studios


A limited edition series of three 32 x 43 cm glass plate single-colour reflection holograms. 100 were produced.

Royal Falcon holograms for sale:

Lion Cubs - Lions (Panthera leo), 1984

Copyright Richmond Holographic Studios


A limited edition 32 x 43 cm glass plate single colour reflection hologram. 100 were produced.

Personal stories - LION CUBS After graduating in 1983, I was very lucky to be offered a position working as a holographer at one of the UK’s first creative holography studios, Richmond Holographic Studios, owned and operated by pioneer holographers and artists, Edwina Orr and David Traynor. In 1984, RHS was given the opportunity to work at one of the UK’s first ruby pulse laser studios, that of Dr John Webster and Chris Mead at Southampton University, to shoot a series of pulsed laser hologram masters. Each person working at RHS at the time was given the opportunity to devise and create their own pulsed laser holograms. I chose to shoot living animals, which was a huge ambition of mine at the time, Paul Newman chose to shoot drink shots, Champagne and Campari, and Edwina Orr chose to shoot Orchids, which she obtained from the nearby Kew Gardens, and her own self-portrait whilst holding a lens. I hired a peregrine falcon from Ashley Smith, the owner of the Halk Conservancy Trust in Andover, and a tiger cub from the famous UK Chipperfield's Circus. Edwina Orr, thinking commercially, suggested that a hologram of a tiger could also be used as a sample advert for ESSO petrol, which at that time had the slogan 'Put a tiger in your tank'. On the morning of the shoot, the daughter of the Chipperfield family arrived with what looked like an almost fully grown tiger (I imagined it would be a small cub) in a cage in the back of her jeep. She lured it out with a bloody piece of meat and onto the table that we had set up in the studio. It was all a bit scary, as it was easily the size of a German Shepherd dog. As soon as we turned the lights off to load the plate however it would cry like a baby and jump down from the table. I did manage to get some shots, but all were awful, with the tiger hanging off the table, etc. It was at this point that the girl told us that she had also brought two lion cubs, as she 'thought this might happen! I thus duly shot the lion cubs instead, which themselves were not easy to keep in one place in the dark. We also took the opportunity to shoot a hologram of Miss Chipperfield holding one of her cubs, and then, at the end of the shoot, I shot a self-portrait with one too. These were amongst the first ever holograms taken of living animals.


Moon Flight - Barn Owl (Tyto alba), 1987.


A 60 x 50 cm film rainbow transmission hologram.

This image was also produced as a 10 x 8-inch film reflection hologram by Laza Holograms Ltd.

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Griffon Vulture (Gyps Vulvas), 1987.


A 50 x 60 cm film rainbow transmission hologram. This hologram is a part of the MIT holography collection.

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Griffon Vulture (Gyps Vulvas) with floating lens, 1987.


A 43x 32 cm glass plate single colour reflection hologram depicting a live Griffon vulture in the background with a large floating lens in real space in the foreground. When looking through the lens, the vulture appears reduced in size and positioned on the image plane of the hologram.

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Indian Moon Moth (Actias selene), 1987.


A 10 x 8-inch glass plate animated single-colour reflection hologram depicting a living Indian Moon Moth. When moving up and down the moth can be seen to emerge from its cocoon and expand its wings.

Personal stories - MOON MOTH From the age of twelve years old I was a budding amateur entomologist and frequently kept and bred exotic insects including moths of the Saturniidae family, or ‘silk moths’ as they are more commonly known. The Saturniidae family include the Atlas Moth (Attacus atlas), one of the biggest moth in the world, and the Indian Moon Moth (Actias selene) one of the most beautiful. In 1987, some 29 years later, whilst working within the Royal College of Art’s Holography Unit, I took the opportunity to shoot a hologram of one. I had several cocoons of the Indian Moon moth at home, with the moths ready to emerge, and my idea was to shoot an animated hologram of one of them crawling out from its cocoon and drying its wings to become a resplendent moth. This would potentially be difficult, as moths can sometimes sporadically emerge from their cocoon over a period of weeks, however one had recently emerged and thus there was a chance others would soon follow. I decided that I wanted to position the cocoon on an old, gnarled tree branch, for added three-dimensional effect, and it was also the kind of place that they may well pupate in the wild, but where to find one? It just so happened that in 1987 I lived close to the Royal Windsor Estate and the Windsor Great Park, an ancient Royal forest not far from the Queen’s residence of Windsor Castle, i.e. the perfect place to find such a thing. Realising that there might be some risk in sawing branches off the Queen’s ancient oak trees, my eventual wife, Brigitte, and I set forth before sunrise in the hope of evading witnesses to this suspect deed. We arrived and parked in a suitable layby on the edge of the forest, not far from Windsor Castle, just as a Royal park warden drove by! Undeterred, and as the early morning light started to penetrate the forest, with mist around our feet and saw in hand, we ventured in, making as little noise as possible. Deep in the forest, I came across a rather forlorn looking, but nonetheless old oak tree with what seemed to be the perfect branch. My guilt was curtailed by the fact that the branch had already partially broken off the tree and so I started to sever it’s limb whilst Brigitte kept a somewhat anxious look out. The sound of sawing reverberated loudly around the otherwise deathly silent forest and could surely have been head from the Queen’s bedroom, but we had come this far, and the job needed to be done! The pace of my sawing, as well as my heartbeat, increased rapidly until the branch relinquished its hold and crashed to the ground. It was only about three feet long, but heavy, and it took the two of us to hastily lift and carry it, crashing through the undergrowth, until we reached the car, which was now sitting in full daylight. For anybody walking their dog at this early hour, it must have looked extremely suspicious indeed. The very next day I drove the branch to the Royal College of Art and set it up in the pulsed laser holography studio. I prepared several cardboard strips that would serve as baffles which, once bulldog clipped to the H1 master plate, would allow me to expose one horizontal strip of the master hologram at a time. The cocoons were duly placed in a box on my desk, and I waited patiently. Conveniently around mid-morning the day after I walked into the office to hear one rustling, and saw that the cocoon was gently rocking from side to side, a sure sign that that a moth was about to emerge. I quickly took the cocoon to the studio next door and hot glued it to the underside of a hole in the branch. I turned off the lights, loaded a 43 x 32 cm Agfa glass plate, and affixed the cardboard baffles to cover all but at horizontal strip at the top. Sure enough, a few minutes later, a moth started to emerge and popped its head out of the cocoon. I eagerly exposed the first strip, so far so good. The moth proceeded to crawl out of the cocoon and, thankful stopped at the end of the cocoon, hanging limply to pump up its initially very small wing buds. As this marvel of nature unfolded, I made successive exposures, taking off and replacing the cardboard strips each time. It had been a long and much anticipated project and, having made the penultimate exposure, I was now on the home run, with only one final shot left to take of the moth looking resplendent, with wings full extended. It was at this point that a student of the Royal Collage of Art’s Holography Unit, none other than the celebrated artist and mother of British holography, Margaret Benyon MBE, came crashing in through the doors of the studio, which I had forgotten to lock. This sudden noise and in-rush of air caused quite a shock to both myself and the moth, and the moth promptly fell off the cocoon and onto the ground, damaging one of its still soft and pliable wings in the process! Yes, a few choice words were uttered in Margaret’s direction, as she scuttled out of the studio. I had no option but to attempt to gently pick up the still very fragile moth and place it back onto the cocoon in the hope that it would continue to dry its wings. Thankfully, it did do so, and I got my last shot, but if one looks very closely at the top of its wing on the left side, one can see a small kink! As with all my holographic works that were mastered at the Royal College of Art, as well as many of those of the students, the reflection hologram transfers were made by me at my home studio in Chertsey, Surrey. In total, only XX 8 x10 inch (25 x 20cm) glass plate copies we ever made of Moon Moth (Actias selene), 1987.

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