One of my fondest memories as a child was racing across the beach, dodging the giant waves in search of striking shells and rocks. There is something magnificent about finding a rock hidden in the ground that hasn't been unearthed for hundreds of years. Unfortunately, the beauty of rocks and minerals found in the ocean doesn't last long; it recedes as the water evaporates from the rock. With a quick rinse of water, the beauty and memories come rushing back, and you are reminded of those moments once again. I wanted to capture that feeling of amazement and mystery I had as a child collecting rocks. Staring down at the abundance of texture, wondering how something so beautiful could be created. Nowadays, we tend to overlook the hidden details nature has to offer. This project was created to show people beauty is everywhere; sometimes, we just have to take a closer look.
During a camping trip to Prarie Creek State Park, my family and I visited Patricks Point, a beach known for having jasper, jade, and agate. When we arrived, the first thing I noticed was every single person there was bent over in the sand searching for rocks. It was the oddest thing to me; I had never seen so many people from such different backgrounds searching for rocks. The entire trip, I kept thinking about that experience. It was amazing how something so small could capture everyone's amazement. I began thinking about how I could possibly capture the exquisite nature of rocks and imagination an audience with them just as the beach had. I had attempted several times to photograph the rocks my father had collected but, with no success. On our way home, we stopped at an enormous mineral store to stop and stretch our legs. Staring down at their fantastic collection, I began to see landscapes and planets in the pieces. I was amazed by how the minerals created had and such intricate patterns numerous vibrant colors.
I knew right there that I had to find a way to make this work. I could capture the exquisite nature of minerals, unlike anything that had ever done before. The first mineral I photographed was a broken piece of sliced agate I found at the bottom of a bargain bin. This caught my eye because of all the cracked pieces in the agate; it looked just like ice. As soon as I got home, I put the agate under the microscope, I was utterly awestruck when I saw that image pop up on the screen. I could not believe what I was seeing. A piece found in the bargain deemed worthless was one of the most enchanting sights I have seen in my life. It is just unbelievable to me that this world can create and preserve something so incredible.
I have worked tirelessly for years, mastering my technique to create large format prints from small scale structures. I hope my work allows you to enjoy the beauty this world has to offer. My images showcase the natural flaws and purities of minerals at a detail never captured before. Each final photo consists upwards of 25,000 separate exposures merged into a single image shot using a microscope objective attached to a 200mm lens. The depth of field on an objective is almost nonexistent, several steps must be used to achieve a truly focused shot. To accomplish this, I use a focus rail that moves the lens no more than 10 microns (the width of a human hair is 75 microns) per photo. This yields 350 exposures, each with a sliver in focus that is composited together into a single file. This file is one piece of a seventy piece puzzle. The process is repeated seventy more times for every section of the subject. The photos are then composited and pieced together to create the final image.