Ellen Land-Weber, Photagraphy
The Secret World of NhhM: Natural history, highly Magnified

Since 1972, when I was introduced to the use of the world's first color copy machine, I have pursued using new or unusual imaging technologies to create photocollages. Throughout these three decades the themes have been strikingly consistent, in particular: still life, natural history, art history, and mankind's changes to the natural world. The present investigation is a continuation of those interests using technology new to me--the scanning electron microscope.

Highly developed since its first use in the 1970's, the scanning electron microscope enables scientists to examine the exterior surfaces of specimens at magnifications beyond the range of visible light, as used by familiar optical microscopes. Utilizing electrons rather than photons, the S.E.M. forms an image on a cathode ray tube, the screen of which is then photographed by traditional means. With skill, a trained operator can produce images of astonishing depth, revealing in minute fragments taken from mundane, sources, a completely unfamilar world of unparalleled beauty and form.

The collages in this exhibition combine highly magnified images of tiny bits of natural material--gathered from Trinidad beaches, the Arcata Marsh, the Arcata Community Forest, and my garden --with antique engravings of natural history subjects, collected over the years. The rational for what bit of antique engraving is served up with which S.E.M. image is not necessarily logical. Rather, the intent is some combination of irony, whimsy, or poetic vision.

Technical Note:
I collected and prepared various specimens for the scanning electron microscope. Upon finding a suitable image using the scope, I made a photograph of the S.E.M. screen using 4x5 Polaroid Type 55 positive/negative black and white film. The negative was then scanned for computer image processing and combination with other imagery. All photographs are copyright © 1995-2004 to Ellen Land-Weber. Written permission is required for reproduction by any means worldwide.

Click on a picture to see an enlarged view

Chardonnay and Bird

Chardonnay and Leopard

Crocosmia Pollen

Hummingbird Tongue

Queen Ann's Lace Seed

Sea Salt