A while back, I wrote a post What Is A Project, and followed that with What Is A Commissioned Project. I will visit the idea once more with a couple of examples and introduce two new photographers whose work you will enjoy very much. The second post will bring a very different kind of project, stay tuned for that.
The opening photograph is a dead giveaway (no pun intended) to the subject, but that is not all. Yes, it is about insect photography but I bet unlike any you have seen before. I was introduced to the work of Levon Biss and his very special project, Microsculpture by my friend Laura Landen. Levon Biss is an accomplished British photographer and has photographed President Macrone and Usain Bolt among many other celebrities. He has also completed another project looking at the soccer community that took him to 28 countries and took one year to complete. I am sure that is fascinating too, but I want to go back to the insects, the small, tiny, medium size, elusive, beautiful, and hardly seen in detail insects.
I have seen many insect photographs, I am sure you have too. But, Biss takes this kind of photography to a new level using a modified microscope stage. Each completed insect photograph may consist of about 8,000 separate photographs. Talk about focus stacking! To manage the process, each insect is photographed in sections, about 30, and each section is photographed using an electronically controlled focusing rail. After each shot, the focus is advanced about 10 microns, about 1/7 of the diameter of a human hair (if you have any!)
Each section is lit using flash strobes to bring out the color and the detail of the body form and other details like hair, eyes, wings, etc. All these separate images then combined to produce the final result of the insect portraits. But, wait, there’s more! Not only is each portrait a gorgeous photograph, but you can view them on Levon’s site in a way that allows zooming in to reveal incredible detail. The photographs here are published with permission from Levon Biss but they do not tell the whole story. To experience the immersive presentation of each insect, and to study different parts of them, you should visit the Microsculptures website. Make sure to view the video on the home page; it is about five minutes long and explains a lot about the process. You will also see how a huge print of one of his insects is made. When zooming in and out while viewing the insect photographs, pay attention to the scale on the top right of the screen.
Amazing project. Thanks to Levon Biss for providing the two photographs as appetizers for my viewers. The real action is on the Microsculptures site.
PS Levon Biss has another site where you can see his insects and other photographs, portraits, journalism, and so on.