Color Cue: Artist's Statement

Allen Ruttenberg

Cross Polarization Microscopy of Crystalline Monolayers and Other Assorted Specimens

Virtually all known solid materials have a crystalline structure which can be visualized under the proper conditions. Substances as diverse as solidified lava, carbohydrate storage granules in plants, various food additives such as citric acid and PABA, medicines in their pure form, granite and all forms of rocks and minerals and everyday items such as aspirin, Motrin, vitamin C, sucrose (table sugar) as well as all forms of salts can be visualized in the crystalline form. The least common method of pursuing this visualization is to grow crystals on glass microscope slides in a monolayer and photograph them using a microscope with polarized light. These specimens generally range from no color whatsoever to faint monochromatic colors such as brown, blue or green. Each crystalline substance exhibits unique properties with regard to rotation of polarized light and when viewed with a series of two linear polarization filters a spectacle of colors and shapes emerges that can be breathtaking. The advent of digital photography has revolutionized photography through the microscope and imagery previously impossible is now achievable. All of my images in this project were taken in columns and rows and then stitched together into a very large final image known as an omni-directional panorama. Taking the image through the microscope in this way is very tedious and requires a great deal of precision and patience. One of the presented images required 964 separate images taken in columns and rows. In the final evaluation it is my hope to impress upon the viewer another level of beauty within nature that is invisible to the unaided eye.