Posted in biology, chemistry, electronic imaging and displays, food, medical imaging, Optics

Ode to scientific photography

Photography has the power to inspire, disgust, and dissect. Photography has often been used as a tool for scientific inquiry, from what a droplet of water looks like to whether a horse lifts all four feet off the ground when running (the photographer of that famous photo was Eadweard Muybridge, often considered a father of high-speed photography). These intrepid photographers behind the science have revolutionized science and art with new techniques, ideas, and chemistry. Both Alfred Stieglitz and Ansel Adams pioneered both the science and art of photography.

In modern times, one of my favorite science photographers for a long time has been Felice Frankel, but I’m slowly discovering others. Dwight Eschliman is one guy I discovered via Boing Boing.

From wheat flour to Red #40, photographer Dwight Eschliman takes surprisingly compelling photographs of every ingredient in a Twinkie.

What you’re looking at here is monoglyceride—an emulsifier that helps blend usually not-easily-blendible ingredients. If you’ve ever made your own vinaigrette, you’re already familiar with the concept. Oil and vinegar don’t want to join up, and separate into layers when you pour them together. But, whisk in some honey, and you’ve got yourself a blended oil-and-vinegar dressing. The honey (or mustard. yum.) acts as an emulsifier.

There’s not much info like this on Eschliman’s Web site, but you can read more about several of the ingredients he photographed in this Planet Green slideshow.

more via Twinkie ingredients, lovingly photographed – Boing Boing.

This years’ winner of the microphotography contest is of a mosquito heart.


Photography is a great way to go out and study the world, capturing the beautiful, horrid, and that which isn’t normally seen.



Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.

2 thoughts on “Ode to scientific photography

  1. I was thinking of blogging the Nikkon small world competition in a similar fashion to this. I did a small search for “photo science competition” (without quotes) and it was surprising what turned up! Quite a few competition that i hadn’t heard about. Anyway i gave up the idea figuring i had a massive backlog of stuff to get through.

    I wonder what the next decade of science photography holds. We’ve only recently for the first time photographed individual atoms – you can’t really go much further, but perhaps technicques will be developed to allow us to infer the presence of subatomic particles that will be able to be depicted in an image? Interesting stuff!

    Science & Photography live long and prosper!

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