Invisible Details of Tiny Creatures Uncovered with Laser-Microscope Photos

Igor Siwanowicz Marries Science And Art In Photographs

Neurobiologist Igor Siwanowicz marries science and art with these incredibly-detailed images taken with a confocal laser-scanning microscope. Using the hi-tech device, he uncovers the invisible world of small creatures such as barnacles, moths, and beetles. Siwanowicz, who has won awards for his photography, works at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus and uses this special microscope as creative escape from his stressful work. “You need creative outlets,” he shares. “Especially photography, where the magic happens in a split second where you press the shutter. You're not dwelling in the past, or thinking about the future. You're in the moment. It was very therapeutic for me.”

The confocal laser-scanning microscope has the ability to capture an unparalleled amount of detail in comparison to a lens-based microscope. It works by taking multiple photographs at different levels of focus, reconstructing them into a single high-resolution, depth-enhanced image. The surreal colors are owed to fluorescent dyes used to illuminate the samples, making these minuscule creatures seem extraterrestrial.

Siwanowicz's images highlight the beautiful complexity of nature. Even the smallest of creatures contains millions of details, contrasted all the more by the glowing colors of the photographs. The element of surprise is part of the fascination for Siwanowicz, as not even he is sure of what he will discover until the image is finalized. Discover more of his microscope photography here.

Above image: Acilius diving beetle male front tarsus (foot) 100x

Laser Scanning Microscopes Captures Details In Barnacles


Hi-Tech Devices Photographs Small Creatures

Midge Pupa

Special Microscope Creates Depth Enhanced Image

Moth antennae

Laser Scanning Microscope With Fluorescent Dyes Creates Extraterrestrial Images

Moth antennae (detail)

Beautiful Complexity Of Nature Exposed In Surreal Colors

Paraphyses and Sporangia

Millions Of Details In Glowing Colors Photographed

Front leg of whirligig beetle

Special Microscope Captures Unparalleled Details

Isopod appendage

Igor Siwanowicz: Website | Facebook
via [Colossal]

All images via Igor Siwanowicz

Jessica Stewart

Jessica Stewart is a Contributing Writer and Digital Media Specialist for My Modern Met, as well as a curator and art historian. Since 2020, she is also one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She earned her MA in Renaissance Studies from University College London and now lives in Rome, Italy. She cultivated expertise in street art which led to the purchase of her photographic archive by the Treccani Italian Encyclopedia in 2014. When she’s not spending time with her three dogs, she also manages the studio of a successful street artist. In 2013, she authored the book 'Street Art Stories Roma' and most recently contributed to 'Crossroads: A Glimpse Into the Life of Alice Pasquini'. You can follow her adventures online at @romephotoblog.
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