May 16 : 2023
Upon discovering what we were looking at in Peter Juzak's winning work, we became immediately enthralled with his eye for illuminating the secret world of microcrystals.
by Lily Fierman
Image: Microcrystals of Ascorbic Acid
Tell us more about creating your winning photo, “Microcrystals of Ascorbic Acid.”
The picture was taken with a polarizing microscope JENALB from Carl Zeiss Jena. A Sony Alpha 6500 with the MF photo adapter APO for digital photomicrography from BW-Optik is connected to the microscope, a GFPApo 25x/0.65/oo/0.17/-A from Carl Zeiss Jena was used as microscope objective.
Some ascorbic acid is sprinkled on a slide and covered with a coverslip, then everything is placed on a hot plate and melted. After everything has cooled, crystals will form on the slide after some time. If the slide is placed under the microscope and the crystals are viewed in cross-polarized light*, they reveal a fantastic world of colors and shapes to the observer.
*The slide is placed between two linear polarizing filters that are offset by 90o and illuminated from below.
How much time would you say it takes for you to get the shot you want?
The time from preparation to a photo varies depending on the substance used. With many of the substances I use, the crystallization process occurs within seconds to a few minutes after melting. The Ascorbic Acid used in this picture is a bit more complicated to prepare a slide. Melting this substance is therefore difficult because the melting point and the time at which the ascorbic acid burns are very close to each other. It takes a few attempts to obtain slides suitable for photographing, the process in which the first crystals form begins after about one to two days. In the case of this image, it took about a week for an area of crystals to form that was large enough to photograph the entire surface of an image (the photographed area has a dimension of 1.18mm in width on the slide).
What’s next on the horizon for you?
Currently I am testing a new substance for me "Kojic acid", after initial tests this seems to be quite promising. Now in the spring / summer I will devote myself to my second passion of wildlife photography.
What is your favorite image you’ve taken and why?
I can't really name a favorite image, but an image of sulfur titled "Sulfur City" means a lot to me. With this picture I participated in my first photography competition (BigPicture: Natural World Photography Competition 2016) and won first place in the Art of Nature category.
Can you tell us about the process of choosing your subjects/crystals?
At the beginning of my photography of microcrystals in polarized light, I used substances that were easy to get in the supermarket, like tartaric acid or citric acid.
In recent years, I am more and more in various groups on Facebook and exchange ideas with like-minded people on this subject. Before photographing I look at a prepared slide for overview in low magnification, when I have found a subject I test different lenses to find the appropriate crop.
With the object stage I can position a subject precisely in the X/Y axis, and with the photo tube, which has been veined for me so that it can be rotated 360o around its own axis, I can select the image section even more precisely. Another possibility is to influence the appearance of the crystals in the polarized light. By changing the two linear polarizing filters, the appearance of the subject changes. All these factors and the fact that the crystals change slowly but steadily make each image unique.