29 December 2013

Professor Uses Colored Dyes To Reveal The Incredibly Detailed Anatomies Of Fish

Following our earlier article about a radiation physicist who creates gorgeous colorized x-ray paintings of animals and plants, comes an engineer and mathematician who uses colored dyes to reveal the incredibly detailed anatomies of fish.

Adam Summers, a professor at the University of Washington, Seattle, collects fish specimens and turns them into beautiful vibrant models for his photo series ‘Cleared’. Summers specially treats each part of the fish before dying it in alternating colors to distinguish its various innards from one another.

Summers said, “The technique uses two vital dyes – Alcian Blue to stain cartilaginous elements a deep blue and Alizarin Red S to turn mineralized tissue crimson. The specimen is then lightly bleached with hydrogen peroxide to remove dark pigments, leaving a snow-white fish. Flesh is dissolved with Trypsin, a digestive enzyme found in your intestine... In order to make the skin and remaining connective tissue invisible the entire specimen is immersed in glycerin.”

Summers has a public Google Doc in which he shares more about the staining process. It is most effective for specimens less than 1cm in thickness which take three days to process, while larger specimens can take several months. The photographs are taken with flash fill lighting while the fish is submerged in glycerin.

Check out some of Summers’ images below and view more at his site.

[via My Modern Met, images via Adam Summers]