Often cast aside as boring, magnified sand opens up an incredible new and diverse world of the granules that compose our favorite destinations.
Sand. For some, it conjures images of tropical beverages and pristine waters. For others, it’s little more than a ubiquitous pest. Either way, we seldom think of those little granules unless we’re surrounded by them.
Under the high magnification of a microscope, however, sand takes on a whole different appearance, shedding much of its supposedly homogenous properties for truly unique and diverse compositions. Depending on the sand’s location of origin, it can be made up of tiny rocks, small polished glass pieces, shells, and other gathered minerals and particles.
This diversity leads to an amazing and beautiful array of imagery when viewed under the microscope. The kaleidoscope of colors, sizes, and shapes are truly works of natural art. Like that seen in the uniqueness of snowflakes under high magnification, magnified sands present us with a close-up view of a world that goes largely unseen to beach goers.
Some of the most vibrant and interesting examples of sand come from Dr. Gary Greenberg, who has set out through his work in microphotography to present sand’s natural diversity and to the world. Says Greenberg, “It is incredible to think when you are walking on the beach you are standing on these tiny treasures…every time I look through my microscope I am fascinated by the complexity and individuality created by a combination of nature and the repeated tumbling of the surf on a beach.”
To take his photos, Greenberg painstakingly traverses beaches, looking for the perfect sand specimens to translate to film. To ensure that the sand particles don’t lose any of their dimension in the close-up shots, Greenberg makes sure to take photos of each granule from multiple angles, which he then combines with photo editing software.
This artistic endeavor isn’t for the impatient, though: Greenberg, who received his PhD in biomedical research from University College London, has spent the past five years traipsing about the world’s beaches in pursuit of the perfect sands. The bulk of his work, not only in sands but other microphotography, can be seen at his website.
Though highly regarded in the field, Dr. Greenberg is not the only person with a love of the natural beauty of sand, or the desire to share those images with the public. Sites like Sand Atlas are also great resources for finding a wide variety of magnified sand photography.