WPY 2014

Photograph Details

Finalist 2014

Natural Design

Bernardo Cesare, Italy


Bernardo’s image began life as a geological event half a billion years ago, when extreme heat deep within the continental crust gave rise to this crystal formation. Like a stained-glass window, the black graphite cuts across the colourful panels of quartz and feldspar. Bernardo uses photomicrographs (images taken through optical microscopes) to study rocks and minerals, and to make images with artistic intent. While examining this granulite rock from a working quarry in Kerala, India, he realised its aesthetic potential. ‘I needed a carefully polished section, so thin that it was transparent,’ explains Bernardo. When he transmitted polarised light through the slice, the interaction of the rays caused the minerals to display their natural interference colours. He inserted a colourless piece of quartz (a red tint plate) into the optical path, which shifted the light waves to transform the shades of grey into blues and purples. His main challenge was the grain size of the rock. As it was almost too coarse for his equipment, he had to use a lower magnification lens of 2.5x. ‘My aim is to reveal the beauty of a world that is normally accessible only to geologists and through images to tell the fascinating story of our planet,’ he explains.

Technical specification

Canon EOS 550D + Zeiss Axioskop 40 Pol microscope + crossed polarizers + red-tint plate; 1/15 sec; ISO 100.

Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India: latitude 8.57509, longitude 76.9966 Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India: latitude 8.57509, longitude 76.9966

Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala, India

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Bernardo Cesare

Bernardo Cesare, Italy

Professor of Petrology at the University of Padova, Italy, Bernardo is a geologist who uses photography extensively in his scientific work. In 2009, he started the MicROCKScopica project, taking pictures with artistic intent to reveal the beauty hidden in fragments of rock. His images have been published and displayed worldwide.