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Otherworldly Images of Gemstones Photographed Through a Microscope

dolomite-in-quartz-01_o Dolomite in quartz with rutile, Minas Gerais, Brazil

3 Negative crystal in spinel, Vietnam

5 Rutile on hematite in quartz, Novo Horizonte, Bahia, Brazil

Photography is often (though not always) considered a lens-based media. Danny J. Sanchez broadens the definition of the lens with a process he calls “photomicrography,” the act of taking a photograph through a microscope.

Sanchez is both a photographer and certified gemologist. Blending science and art, Sanchez’s images of gem stones are photographed through a microscope and composed with a technique called “focus stacking.” Each photograph is comprised of multiple exposures stacked on top of each other to achieve a manufactured depth of field that can be produced by one photograph alone. In his laboratory, Sanchez studies the natural geometry of his subject before photographing, using fiber optic tubes for lighting, and directing it with miniscule reflectors and black foil.

Exploring gemstones, he finds worlds within worlds. Though products of our earth, these stones have their own geography of imitate mountain ranges, caves, and quarries in vibrant, sparkling hues. Many of the photographs show the imperfections in the stones that would render them less valuable to collectors, but which Sanchez finds particularly appealing.

1 Staining within an etch tube in quartz, Brazil

Hematite-Bloom-1200_1000 Hematite bloom in quartz, Brazil

10 Apatite in spinel, Myanmar

8 Petroeum in quartz with methane bubble, Pakistan

2 Quartz with black inclusions within negative crystals, Brazil

boulder-opal-02-800_533 Opal in ironstone, Queensland, Australia

hourglass-amethyst-800_533 Hourglass, color-zoned amethyst

muscovite-in-qtz_o Muscovite in quartz, Brazil

neg-xtals-veracruz_1_533 Negative crystals in amethyst, Veracruz, Mexico

All images © Danny J. Sanchez

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