Collision of Science and Art

Collision of Science and Art


What do you see below?

A cornfield?

Caffeine 4 p.m.

Caffeine 4 p.m. by Lee Hendrickson

A storm over the Atlantic?

Seven Seas

Seven Seas by Lee Hendrickson

A side view of bolts of fabric?

Blues and Blues

Blues and Blues by Lee Hendrickson

Last month I attended the Arizona Fine Art Expo (it’s still going on, by the way, so get out there if you can), and I was blown away by some of the artists, and in particular, by Lee Hendrickson.

With an AA degree in biomedical photography and a BS in biology, Hendrickson worked as a research scientist for thirty-five years, putting in a lot of hours looking through a microscope. The beauty he discovered hidden in microscopic structures magnified thousands of times he now reveals through his photography.


While at the Expo, he worked with his Olympus BH2 microscope (with trinocular head) attached to a Canon 5D (20mp) camera. The digital images load directly to his laptop. See the glass slides laid out on the edge of the table? They contain drops of solutions that dried, forming crystals.

So, the cornfield at the top of this post? It’s really the crystalline structure of caffeine. (Who knew coffee was so beautiful?)

The ocean? It’s actually crystalline resveratrol grown in Seven Falls 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon.

And the fabrics? Crystalline citric acid.

The crystals are actually colorless. The vibrant hues are the result of refraction as light passes through them from a source below the slide. The crystals act as a prism, dividing the light into its spectrum. And the actual size of the crystals that appear in the photographs is no larger than the head of a pin.

Here are some more of Hendrickson’s photographs, and below each, the identification of the crystal pictured:

Arabesque #2

Arabesque #2 by Lee Hendrickson

Crystalline Truvia (a non-caloric sweetener from Stevia plant).

First Light

First Light by Lee Hendrickson

Crystalline phenylethylamine (found in chocolate).


Kaleidoscope by Lee Hendrickson

Crystalline citric acid.

Innocence Lost

Innocence Lost by Lee Hendrickson

Crystalline citric acid.

Morning Glory

Morning Glory by Lee Hendrickson

Crystalline phenylethylamine (found in chocolate).


Snowfall by Lee Hendrickson

Crystalline acetaminophen.


Whispers by Lee Hendrickson

Crystalline resveratrol grown in Arizona Stronghold Mangus Red Blend 2011.

Yellow, Black & Blues

Yellow, Black & Blues by Lee Hendrickson

Crystalline citric acid.

Uptown Downtown

Uptown Downtown by Lee Hendrickson

Crystalline phenylethylamine found in chocolate.

So, why do some of the same crystals produce such different images? Hendricks explains that the different solvents used, and varying drying conditions such as drying time, temperature, or humidity, can cause the crystals to grow in a variety of patterns, which will refract light differently.

Here is a video Hendrickson made of crystals growing:

To learn more about Lee Hendrickson’s work, or to purchase one of his prints, visit his website, Photography of Crystals.


3 responses »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.