1972 | USA | Documentary,Archival

The Worlds of Dr. Vishniac

  • English 20 mins
  • Director | Donald F. Hornig

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In addition to the candid photography for which he is best known, Vishniac worked heavily in the field of photomicroscopy, and cinemicroscopy. He specialized in photographing living insects and had a talent for arranging the moving specimens in “just the right poses”, according to, former president of the American Society of Magazine Photographers. On the subject of Vishniac’s skill in photomicroscopy, Halsman said he was, “a special kind of genius”. He worked with all sorts of specimens, from, to Vishniac’s work in photomicroscopy was, and is, highly regarded in the field. For three consecutive years, beginning in 1952, he won the Best-of-the-Show Award of the

One of Roman Vishniac’s most famous endeavors in the field of photomicroscopy was his revolutionary photographs from the inside of a firefly’s eye, behind 4,600 tiny, complexly arranged. In addition, there were the images taken at the medical school of Boston University of the circulating blood inside a cheek pouch. Vishniac invented new methods for light-interruption photography and color photomicroscopy. His method of colorization, (developed in the 1960s and early 1970s) uses polarized light to penetrate certain formations of cell structure and may greatly improve the detail of an image.

In the field of biology, Vishniac specialized in marine microbiology, the physiology of ciliates, circulatory systems in unicellular plants and endocrinology (from his work in Berlin) and metamorphosis. Despite his aptitude and accomplishments in the field, most of his work in biology was secondary to his photography: Vishniac studied the anatomy of an organism primarily to better photograph it. Besides experimenting with the metamorphosis of axolotl, he also researched the morphology of chromosomes in 1920: both in Berlin. As a biologist and philosopher in 1950, he hypothesized polyphyletic origin, a theory that life arose from multiple, independent biochemical reactions, spawning multicellular life. As a philosopher, he “developed principles of rationalistic philosophy” in the ’50s.

Horizons of Science, Vol 1., No 2

Microscopy Cinemicroscopy Photomicroscopy Insects Microscope