Unnatural Patterns

The new Cosmic Photo Challenge is Unnatural Patterns.

I can’t decide if these photos are natural or unnatural but I’m going to say they’re unnatural for the challenge.

The photos are of sodium thiosulfate crystals photographed through a microscope using polarized light.  I made a solution of sodium thiosulfate, put drops on microscope slides and used various methods to get the crystals to form. The first photo could be part of one of my fingerprints.

A fingerprint in sodium thiosulfate.

polarized light microscopy

polarized light microscopy

Polarized light photomicroscopy.

In the early 1980s I was running the photo department at a scientific research establishment. This involved a wide variety photo techniques to record a range of subjects.

However, polarized light photomicroscopy wasn’t used for anything work related. Having seen the results of other people I decided to investigate the technique. In those days that meant researching in literature rather than simply Googling as you would these days.

Now I will admit that I am writing this from memory, I have googled the subject and what I have found matches my memories of the technique.

I applied drops of a Sodium Thiosulfate solution to some microscope slides and left the solution to evaporate so that crystals would form.

I mounted a polarizing filter between the light source of the microscope and the slide stage. Once the Sodium Thiosulfate had crystallized I put one of the microscope slides on the stage and put a second polarizing filter above the slide. When you rotated one of the polarizing filters the colour of the crystals changed.

The first photo shows what I found to be a fairly typical example of the crystals.

polarized light microscopy

This photo shows small patches of colour against a mostly dark background. I’m guessing that this is a result of the orientation of the polarizing filters.

polarized light microscopy