Color In Microscopy

Microscopy allows people to view the world on a significantly smaller scale, and although many of things we see are dyed by people, there are still many subjects that are not or simply cannot be.

There are some subjects that, under certain methods and conditions, can actually show immense amounts of different color without having to dye it. I selected three methods that I captured in these photomicrographs to display just a small idea of what colors can be found.

Each method has their own way to “extract” these colors, and sometimes it can produce more varieties of color paterns than just what’s shown for the same subject.

The three sets of images use fluorescence, differential interference contrast, and cross polarization, respectively. Each of the methods rely heavily on what the subject is to exibit the different colors shown in the image. Some subjects, such as autofluorescent organisms, will have more profound colors than others.

These images show that color can be found in even the smallest of subjects, it’s simply a matter of just finding what method exploits these colors.

Contreras_20160224_1 Contreras_20160224_2

Sambucus Lenticil at 10x magnification. Left image is from blue excitation fluorescence and right is from green excitation fluorescence.


Silicon semiconductor wafer at 10x magnification. Image was taken using the differential interference contrast method.


Dyed hair at 10x magnification. Image was taken using the cross polarization method.

Photography and Science

Hello, my name is Christopher Contreras, and I am a 4th year student at RIT majoring in Imaging and Photographic Technology. A little more about myself is that I’m from Los Angeles, California and originally started my undergraduate career as an Electrical Engineering Major. Many people see my jump into Photo Sciences as pretty drastic, however I’ve seen quite a few overlaps already, and found my balance in photography and science within my new major. I started getting into photography when I was 16 years old, originally through videography, but found I was better at creating images than videos. Since then, my skills and scope of photography has increased drastically.

There are many people that see science and photography as something that wouldn’t mix. This is mostly due to seeing photography as solely an art. Meanwhile there are many methods of art in photography, scientific photography is one that differs. Yes, it is possible to use scientific photography as art as well, but the primary use helps us advance in the sciences. The main goal of scientific photography is to help see, study, and analyze different scientific subjects in our world and even outside of it. Sometimes it is only through images that we may be able to see certain scientific phenomena. Another interesting aspect of scientific photography is that it is not always done with just a normal camera. There are so many different ways of capturing and image whether it be through an electron scanning microscope or a large telescope.

The image that I would like to show, but however am waiting on a response from it’s creator, is a photomicrograph of Vitamin B12 crystals by Stefan Eberhard. The image shows the different crystalline structures of the vitamin as well as the color that it creates when placed in polarized light. The image itself may not serve scientific purpose as the creator has noted, however it is a perfect example of what we can see through scientific imaging. If you would like to see a section of his gallery that also contains the image, you can find it here.