I wanted to take a bit to talk a out the next big project about to be started… SAND! Now I know you’re probably thinking how boring that is, and how ‘one-note’ a bunch of pictures of sand would be. I have, however, been asked to photograph a series of microscopic images for science teachers to use in the classroom. I came across a wonderful resource through the Microscopy Society of America and their “Project MICRO” (Microscopy In Curriculum – Research Outreach) Sandbox have been given various samples of sand, ash and lava from around the world. Hopefully the teachers will find these images useful in conjunction with lesson plans in geology, geography, tides, and other natural sciences!
The sample list is as follows…
– Ash from Mt St Hellen’s
– Lava from Hawaii
– Coarse sand (crushed shell) from Hawaii
– Various fine sands from:
— Maine, USA (North Atlantic Ocean)
— Haifa, Israel (Mediterranean Sea)
— St. Thomas, US Virgin Islands (Caribbean Sea)
— Utah, USA (Canyon Runoff)
— Durres, Albania (Adriatic Sea)
— Botany Bay, Australia (South Pacific Ocean)
— Ontario, Canada (Lake Superior/ Gargantua Harbor)
I also have shells from various travels, and will collect pond-life (algae, leaches, protozoa, etc) in my backyard.
I’d like to especially thank Heidi Ullberg of Hooke College for curating the main Sandbox collection, and for sending more samples than I had even requested! You can find resources at The Microscopy Society Of America’s The Microscopy Society Of America’s website HERE
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!