I really have troubles finding words this time. My beloved ‘mite project’ has just been published by National Geographic (new feature story called ‘Mighty Mites’, Feb 2015). The cute mites have been part of my last four years, accompanying me through the most troubled and enjoyable years of my life. But lets tell this story from the beginning.
Back in 2010, I found some scientific pictures of mites on the web. They were not particularly impressive, but the mysterious creatures awakened my curiosity. After an extensive online search, I decided to explore these invisibly small creatures profoundly – and to exhibit them under a different light. It is clear that mites don’t touch people’s hearts. Unlike in my previous long-term projects ‘Love is in the air’ (about pollen; National Geographic, Dec 2009) and ‘Exquisite Castaways’ (about butterfly eggs; National Geographic, Sep 2010), the stars of my new project would either suffer from being notoriously overlooked, or even be written-off as some of the most hatred creatures on earth. Getting my new project funded seemed as simple as flying to the moon…
Either way, I was infested with the ‘mite virus’ and started to contact research area specialists around the globe. My intention was to connect with- and motivate renowned experts to join in, and to provide specimens for subsequent scanning electron microscopic (SEM) analysis. Contacting Professor Heather Proctor from the University Alberta Canada and her husband Dr. Dave Walter (have a look at Dave’s brilliant Macromite’s blog) turned out to be a strike of luck: both scientists were very excited about my project. Over the following years, they kindly provided their expertise and collected some of the finest and best conserved mite specimens I have ever seen. Simply packed in a few unspectacular 2.0 milliliter test tubes, dozens of mites emerged from their vials – each specimen more fascinating than the next one. Thenceforward it was clear: this project is going to be special – an unforgettable adventure!
Award-winning image series ‘Cursed Knights’
After creating a handful preliminary black-and-white SEM scans, I decided to select and color five exemplary prints and submit them to the IPA – a competition considered as ‘the Oscars of Photography’. My submission ‘Cursed Knights’, which is my personal pet name for ‘mites’, became the winning entry. It got me the title ‘International Photographer of the Year 2011 – Special Photography’. National Geographic instantly decided to support the project, thereby reserving the rights for first publication. All of a sudden, I got a new playground.
A lot has happened since then!
Today, I am providing a unique series of mite images that were carefully created over almost half a decade. Through these images, I am trying to breath new life into an orphan branch of life. I am so grateful for the joy I felt during the project and I will take many unforgettable moments with me, as I now move on to new adventures. And while the time has come for me to say goodbye, you are kindly invited to look at my handpicked selection of negatively prejudged creatures – from an entirely new perspective!
Hopefully, my images let you find the pleasure and passion I felt on the way there. Obviously, ‘Cursed Knights’ means much more to me than you can intuitively expect – as some of you know.
So, I leave with a warm hand over to my wonderful companions, the ‘Cursed Knights’.
‘Cursed Knights’ is dedicated to Margrit, Bruno, Annika, David & Nelson. With gratitude to everyone supporting me or the project, either directly or indirectly.
© Martin Oeggerli / Micronaut 2011-2014, generously supported by School of Life Sciences, FHNW, Muttenz. Specimens kindly provided by Heather Proctor and Dave Walter, University Alberta, Canada, and Elke McCullough, Institute of Zoology, University Graz, Austria.
Greeting Card Set ‘Mighty Mites’
Check out the new Greeting Card Set ‘Mighty Mites’, available now from the Micronaut online shop.
Mites Gallery- on Micronaut.ch
Mighty Mites – National Geographic Feature Article, February 2015
Mighty Mites – National Geographic Oeggerli Photo Gallery Mites, February 2015
Dr. Oeggerli’s Little Monsters – National Geographic PROOF, February 2015