A selection of photo-micrographs
created by Arthur E Smith and featured in the book Nature through Microscope & Camera
(1909) by Richard Kerr. Little information is given about Arthur E Smith but we do know that the photographs featured in the book “were exhibited at the Royal Society’s Annual Conversazione, May 13, 1904”, so Kerr tells us in the opening chapter, and “done on 12 by 10 plates directly through the microscope and camera combined as one instrument” with the negatives receiving “no ‘touching-up’ whatever.” The stunning images are achieved by simply photographing the images seen through a microscope, a process which Arthur E Smith himself explains in the only chapter he writes in the book. The introduction by Kerr is also worth a read, couching as he does the work of micrography in terms of curing the world’s ills:
There are too many places of amusement in our cities, too many trashy and pernicious novels in our free libraries … We do not suggest photography through the microscope as the remedy for existing defects, but we think that the more our young men take up intellectual pastimes the better it will be for the nation. This is one of those pastimes. It is not a selfish one. One enthusiast is a centre of usefulness to others, for he cannot keep to himself the enjoyment he receives from the study of Nature’s beauties and wonders.
Photomicrography is also the technique used by Wilson Bentley to make his beautiful images of snowflakes. A selection of both Bentley’s images and also Smith’s are available as prints in our online shop.