Category Archives: Photographic Techniques

How was this image made?

Thin section of dunite in crossed polarsFirst off, what is this?  This is a photomicrograph of dunite, an ultramafic rock composed almost entirely of the mineral olivine.  The vivid colors were produced by viewing the subject, a thin section of the rock containing birefringent crystals, through crossed polarizing filters. Continue reading

What is this image?

Myristic acid at 100x viewed using cross polarized light

The striking image currently on the website banner and on my business card is a photo taken through a microscope.  The subject is myristic acid, an organic compound derived from Myristica fragrans, better known as nutmeg.  Myristic acid is found in many other plant oils.  To make the microscope slide, a few grains of the myristic acid, a white powder, were placed on a microscope slide and heated.  Myristic acid has a low melting temperature and crystallizes quickly when the heat is removed returning it to its original white crystalline solid state.  But each time it recrystallizes it produces a different whimsical microscopical world of interlocking patterns.  The image was magnified 100x and viewed through polarizing filters to reveal these fantastic colors, called “interference colors”. 

This image won best overall image in the Photomicrography Competition at the 2013 Inter/Micro, an International Microscopy Symposium held annually at the McCrone Research Institute in Chicago, Illinois.  The image was then featured on a cover of The Microscope and the program for Inter/Micro 2014.

Photos of magazine covers featuring photographs by Julian Gray

Stacked images: how are they made?

Recent developments in photography have lead to a flood of great images with tremendous sharpness or resolution.  Here’s an example photograph of a spherical cluster of blades of vauxite crystals from the Siglo Veinte mine, Llallagua, Potosi, Bolivia.  The ball of crystals is 1 mm wide.

Vaixite from Bolivia

This photo was produced by combining the sharpest parts of 55 separate photos of the mineral; each image isolated a tiny, crisply focused level.  This photo won an Image of Distinction Award in the 2013 Nikon Small World contest.  But how is this done? Continue reading

Getting magnification: Stacking objectives

Stacking lenses is an excellent way to get higher magnification in macrophotography.  I’ve only recently started experimenting with this technique, but was immediately impressed by the magnification and clarity of the images.

Clued in by a good friend in Seattle, Bruce Kelly, and a post on by Rik Littlefield, I bought a few new toys. Continue reading