Steve Mandel spoke on Photographing Diatoms: Capturing Beauty in the Miniscule
Diatoms, beautiful single-celled organisms that live in the water, produce much of the oxygen we breathe and are essential for life on Earth. Yet, most people don’t even know they exist. Steve Mandel uses photomicroscopy to produce engaging and artistic photos of diatoms in order to elicit an emotional response to these microorganisms endangered by global warming. As he notes, if we think something is beautiful, we are more likely to protect it. In his talk, Steve discussed why diatoms are important, their history on planet Earth, the obsession with them in Victorian England, and how he uses different microphotographic techniques to produce artistic images designed to engage the public in discussions about the science and conservation issues around them.
Steve Mandel is an award-winning wildlife photographer with his photos appearing in the Smithsonian, NYTimes, various books and journals. He is the designer of an underwater, 3D virtual reality camera system used by Nat Geo and by his Oceans360 program to bring compelling virtual reality video to students and the public. In addition, he is the Executive Director of OceansMicro, a nonprofit program that provides marine microbiology programs to the public and to high school and middle school students. He is currently working with the California Academy of Sciences to help identify fossil diatoms in their extensive collections and to bring their diatom slide collection to the public via photography.