Photomicroscopy makes more sense once you realize its just the words “photo” and “microscope” squished together. No one can ever pronounce it and I LOVE to hear people try. Photo-my-CRAW-scapy (apologies if I butchered the phonetics) is literally a picture through a microscope, although my favorite definition comes from Garden State Laboratories and declares photomicroscopy to be “the art and science of taking photographs using a microscope to visualize an unseen world”.
Laboratories tend to have big, elaborate and specialized microscopes costing obscene amounts of money. I, on the other hand, was lucky enough to come into possession of a fantastic American Optical model Spencer Sixty microscope being retired from the biology department at Michigan State University. I’m pretty sure it was built in the late fifties or early sixties, although more recently the lamp in the base was replaced with a new LED light instead. This microscope is my baby!
I build filters out of everything from the lenses of movie theater 3-D glasses, to cardboard, and colored papers. Using an adapter I attach my camera to the microscope instead of a normal lens, and an extra microscope light instead of a flash. Finally, that entire setup gets hooked to and partially controlled by my computer… Each piece of art is made up of as few as a dozen or as many as 300+ individual images! They are stacked side by side, and one on top of the next (a bit like lasagna) in a method called Focus Stacking. I promise to explain Depth of Field and digital Focus Stacking more later.
Basically, trust me when I tell you that I’m a dork and this is my passion!