Looking at both the incredible imagery from the recently released US Geological Survey images from the Landsat 7 and Terra satellites and the 2010 Nikon Small World microscope photography competition winning images has led me to do a little compare and contrast in homage to Charles & Ray Eames, makers of one of my favorite short films "Powers of Ten"
Fruit Fly Intestine, (800X magnification) © Paul Appleton
Two forms of scientific photography that take us from the outer space to the inner, yet remain eerily similar at times, both sets of images are beguiling on every level. From Karmen vortices on Alexander Selkirk Island to highly magnified pictures of soy sauce they both manage to show us the building blocks that bind our fragile world together. The best ones, such as the above image of Bolivian deforestation can transcend into a kind of social commentary, as documentary evidence. The caption reads: "Once a vast carpet of healthy vegetation and virgin forest, the Amazon rain forest is changing rapidly. This image of Bolivia shows dramatic deforestation in the Amazon Basin. Loggers have cut long paths into the forest, while ranchers have cleared large blocks for their herds. Fanning out from these clear-cut areas are settlements built in radial arrangements of fields and farms. Healthy vegetation appears bright red."
Desptie that, it's still nice to hear this Guardian article quote the USGS boffins in charge of the Landsat 7 say they decided to start collecting these images "for their aesthetic beauty rather than any scientific value".
Penicillin 60X magnification, © Thomas Deernick
Karman Vortices Alexander Selkirk Island in the southern Pacific Ocean.
Wasps Nest 10X magnification, © Riccardo Taiariol
The Chinese Himalaya
What's even better is that as with all NASA related imagery, it's rights free and you can download all of the poster size images in hi-res formats.
Here's some examples and a link for their "Earth as Art" collections.
And of course 'Powers of Ten"