Microsculpture

A technique combining 8,000 images per picture. Photographer Levon Biss reveals insects as never seen before.

  • Words + Photography: Levon Biss

The Microsculpture series began as a push against the increasingly disposable nature of photography in the digital age. We have adopted the mentality that photographs are cheap because they are now easy and free to produce; my aim was to create imagery that has a real sense of worth again. Something that took time, patience and simple hard work to create, images that could never be classed as disposable.

The Amazonian Purple Warrior Scarab Coprophanaeus Lancifer (Coleoptera, Scarabaeidae).

The project was also a way of exercising my brain again and forcing myself to learn an entirely new way of shooting. I wanted to see if I could take my experience of photographic lighting techniques and translate that onto a subject that was only 6mm long whilst still keeping creative control over the light.

The Flying Saucer Trench Beetle Lepidochora Porti (Coleoptera Tenebrionidae).

The technical challenges of photography at high magnification are huge, mostly due to the extreme shallow depth of field developed when using microscope lenses. To get around this each image is created from over 8,000 separate shots each with a tiny slither of focus that is then compressed to create a single picture that is fully focused from front to back.

Branch-Backed Treehopper Cladonota sp. (Hemiptera, Membracidae).

To keep the creative control though I split the insect up into 20 to 30 different sections and shoot each one like an individual still life, just to make that one section as beautiful as it can possibly be. When I have all these sections flattened down and in full focus they are brought together like a jigsaw to create the final image.

Article taken from
Articles

Further Reading

The Kombai

Oliver Steeds describes the fast-changing world of the tree-dwelling Kombai tribe in Papua New Guinea, whose members are as fond of wisecracks as they are of the Sago grub.

AI Killed the Radio Star?

Last year Francois Pachet was poached by Spotify as one of the world’s foremost pioneers in applying AI to music. As he pushes computers closer to the Holy Grail of composing their own works, should musicians fear or celebrate him?

Jason Everman: The Life Quixotic

The one-time Nirvana and Soundgarden guitarist went to war yet outlived the frontmen from both bands. He discusses a life in music and the military, and the lessons learnt from the original Renaissance Man, Cellini.

A Shot in the Dark

It makes up 80 per cent of all the matter in the universe, yet no one has been able to find it. Could the XENON1T project be about to solve the mystery of dark matter?

Outfitter: Vollebak

The 50,000BC Jacket is the latest offering from Vollebak, the radical pioneers of technology-enhanced clothing.

The Navy Without a Sea

Bolivia lost its only coastal territory 130 years ago. Yet it still has a fleet which is important both practically and symbolically. Laurence Blair reports on daily life in Bolivia’s landlocked navy.
Browse by Category