Particle physics art

Now click on a photo and recreate your imagination

Like many renowned scientists, Nobel Prize-winning physicist Dr. Richard Feynman also dabbled in the arts while studying quantum physics. He once said that an artist friend would say that if artists could look at a flower and marvel at its beauty, a scientist like him would disintegrate it and turn it into a boring thing.

It is with this philosophy that the Pune-based technocrat Yogendra Joshi and his ilk seem to identify. This would explain their interest in a niche art form called crystal micro photography (or crystal photo micrography). A perfect fusion of art and science, it essentially involves taking pictures of a thin layer of crystals formed on a glass slide using a microscope and cross-polarized light.

The artist can use the right compounds and play with the lighting to produce the image he has in mind – from kaleidoscopic patterns, landscapes to man-made structures and everything in between. Joshi has been experimenting with macro photography for over a decade now, having shot insects and high-speed water drop collisions. In fact, he taught these art forms to many students through workshops and publications.

His contact with micro photography happened when he was going through the categories of an international photography competition a few years ago. When the pandemic disrupted his weekly outdoor shots, he decided to take up crystal microphotography in March 2020. powder and even human tears,” he says.

He liked what he saw under the microscope and started looking for virtual communities interested in micro photography. It was then that he came into contact with Dutch-based Loes Modderman, who not only encouraged Joshi, but also became his mentor.

Yavatmal-based Shyam Rathod is another person who got into the art form after encountering the difficulty of continuing the hobby of capturing insects on the frame due to the lockdown. An assistant engineer at MAHATRANSCO, he had been in astronomy but was tired of lugging heavy equipment, and macro photography suited him perfectly. He also got to know his international peers, which led him to a Facebook group where he posted his photos. Loes was in this group, where she introduced Rathod to Joshi.

Rathod experimented with chemicals such as paracetamol and urea. Being located in a rural area was an advantage for him when pursuing macro photography. “As a professional, I can’t devote a lot of time to this hobby. Despite this, I want to continue learning and refining my craft,” he says.

Rathod persevered with the help of Joshi as well as his dentist friend, Dr. Hiroj Bagde from Nagpur, who eventually embraced the art form. As a doctor, he had easy access to chemicals that helped him develop his art. From a saline solution, it passed to sulfuric acid. “Trial and error is the best learning method for this art,” he says. While it might seem like an expensive hobby to pursue, Bagde insists that perception isn’t true. All you have to do is invest in a microscope, the basic model of which costs Rs 10,000. The polarization filters used in the cameras are necessary to make the necessary modifications to the microscope lens. Photos can be clicked with a phone camera. “You can just start with what you have. Even knowledge of science is not necessary to start this hobby,” he says.

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Posted: Monday, April 18, 2022, 10:31 a.m. IST