Saturday, 31 December 2011


Keeping with the spiders, I heard from an old school friend who was always keen on arachnids and reptiles. Ben was happy to let me come and photograph some of his pets, including a variety of tarantulas and three snakes. Two of these were boa constrictors and the last a californian king snake.

The size of these spiders varied from around a centimetre in leg-span to a couple of inches. I wanted to continue photographing arachnids to show a variation within my project. These spiders were a little more difficult to photograph as they moved around a lot more, and made it much harder to focus stack them.

Kudos to Ben, I'll be returning through the holidays and continuing with his spiders and snakes.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Spiders take 2

Here's the next shot in the series, I've changed the angle slightly, along with the depth of field and background colours. I like this photograph a lot more than the original shot but think there's still room for improvement.

This photograph consists of 25 shots.

Sunday, 18 December 2011


Spiders have a fantastic range of abilities that can be used for our own gain, but their most precious property is undoubtedly their silk. It is 10 times stronger than steel and can stretch up to 40% of it's original length. Nevertheless, this specimen still scared the hell out of me.

A company called Nexia Biotechnologies has created a material called Biosteel. BioSteel is a trademark name for a high-strength based fiber material made of the recombinant spider silk-like protein extracted from the milk of transgenic goats, made by Nexia Biotechnologies. The company has created lines of goats that produce recombinant versions of either the MaSpl or MaSpll dragline silk proteins in their milk. When the female goats lactate, the milk, containing the recombinant silk, is harvested and subjected to chromatographic techniques to purify the recombinant silk proteins.

Unfortunately since then Nexia has been bought out and sold a number of goats to the U.S Defence Department. The whereabouts and future of these goats remains unknown, but the applications in which the silk could be used is extensive. If you could create a textile, you could weave very lightweight bulletproof vests, cables for bridges, and even anti-ballistic missile systems.

Using a reverse mounted lens, 3 extension tubes and a home made studio I was able to take this photograph. It's not a final piece in any way, shape or form. This is a starting block for a more dramatic photo, as I will change the depth of field via how many photographs I choose to stack, lighting positions and background. I will also take various photos of the spider from different angles, showing the anatomy of it, including it's spinnerets. These may be tricky though, and may require a microscope.

This photograph is comprised of 14 shots.

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Burdock seeds and goose grass

This post is related to Velcro. The idea was originally thought up by George de Mestral after he returned from a hunting trip in 1941 and noticed how Burdock seeds stuck to his clothes. Replicating this idea with small hooks and a surface mimicking fur, he created Velcro, which was patented in 1955. 

The first three photographs are of goose grass under a microscope. I played around with various different light temperatures, but bear in mind that these are about 5mm in diameter. The second shot was made by cutting through sections of the goose grass, and I did this in order to demonstrate singular hooks. All of these first three photographs were focus stacked, the third one to show the overall structure of these tiny seeds. Moving on with this shoot, I think to improve the shot I'll add a tape measure or ruler next to the subject. The reason these photographs aren't pin sharp is because the camera mount for the microscope isn't amazing, but I have been told that there are better ones in uni, so I'll give those a go too.

The last two photographs show Burdock seeds. These are the hooks that inspired George de Mestral to invent something you've probably had on your shoes at some point in your life, or have fastened something on with. The first shot shows it's ability to hook onto fur or clothing, and the second simply showing the hooks shape. 

The next thing I want to do with this is to show Burdock seeds clinging to Velcro itself.


This is the start of a small experiment I'm conducting into the structure of insects. Having found these rather ropey specimens inside one of the lights at home, these are fairly dusty and a bit ragged. I focus stacked these photographs to show a greater depth of field, revealing more detail. I'm hoping to do a small section in the book about insects, focusing especially on their eyes (excuse the pun). 

These are only initial images, the backgrounds and subjects will improve. I shot these using 3 extension tubes and a 105mm macro lens. I'm going to start doing some inverted macro work over christmas as soon as something arrives in the post. To reduce the highlights created from the dust I diffused the light with toilet paper. 

Keep an eye on this space!

Saturday, 10 December 2011

The beginning

I've decided to make this blog as part of my final year project. Biomimicry is the term for harnessing an idea from nature and utilising it within technology. This can be applied from architecture to computing in a seemingly endless list of natures perfected solutions. Over the course of the year I will be updating this blog with new shoots.

My final product will be a book aimed at a wide age range which visually explains the application of natural solutions.

The first set of photographs I'm uploading are of lilies, as their property to retain water has been used to produce a paint that can be applied to houses or boats to self clean when it rains and reduce friction through water.