Jumping spider (Phidippus otiosus).
Igor Siwanowicz’s interest in the natural world came from poring over brightly colored photographs and illustrations in biology and zoology textbooks as a child. Born in Krakow, Poland in 1976, Siwanowicz is the son of two biologists who he claims reinforced and rewarded his early interest in biology.
Certain amount of the fascination in natural sciences might be encoded in the genes, and that was definitely passed on me from my parents, along with some artistic skills that just pop up in my family generation after generation.
Siwanowicz studied for a Masters in biotechnology at Krakow and then Aarhus, Denmark, before going on to complete a PhD in structural biochemistry in Germany.
His artistic talents came to the fore during a hiatus from post-doctoral studies when Siwanowicz traveled the world as a freelance nature photographer. He “conned some people into organizing” exhibitions of his work which led to the publication of two books of his photographs.
He then returned to his career in science as a “lowly technical assistant in behavioural genetics at the Max-Planck Institute for Neurobiology in Munich.” Today, Siwanowicz works as a neurobiologist at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Janelia Farm Research Campus in Virginia.
Siwanowicz believes his photographic work keeps him “(relatively) sane.”
...it’s a sort of occupational therapy, a way to cope with the blues. I think I am slightly bipolar (as in manic-depressive), far from raving mad but still having those seasonal swings of mood and warped self-perception. Taking photos, among other things, gives me satisfaction and keeps my mind off of obsessing too much. I use my accomplishments to re-build my self-esteem and move a small step towards self-actualisation.
Siwanowicz’s photographic work includes beautiful macro “mug shots” of insects:
They are foreign, otherworldly looking creatures – the closer you get to them, the stronger the effect. See, insects have those totally alien, Gigeresque forms that I find somehow fascinating.
His incredibly trippy psychedelic extreme close-up photographs of insects—beetles, spiders, moths, mites—are made with a confocal laser-scanning microscope, which captures these beautiful creatures in greater clarity and detail than other lens-based imaging.
See more of Igor Siwanowicz’s glorious microscopy.
Jumping spider eyes.
More of these stunning photographs, after the jump…