November 8, 2013
Photographer Bernhard Edmaier is a geologist by training, and it is this knowledge base of the processes that create geological features that he leans on when selecting locations to shoot. For almost 20 years, he has hunted the world over for the most breathtaking views of coral reefs, active volcanoes, hot springs, desert dunes, dense forests and behemoth glaciers.
“Together with my partner Angelika Jung-Hüttl, I do a lot of internet research, including Google Earth[searches], study satellite images of planned destinations, maintain close contact with local scientists and commercial pilots, deal with various authorities and negotiate flight permits,” says Edmaier. “It can take months of research until the moment of shooting has arrived.”
Then, on that long-awaited day, the German photographer boards a small plane or helicopter and instructs the pilot to position him in just the right spot over the landform. He often has that perfect shot in mind, thanks to his planning, and he captures it out of the side of the side of the aircraft with his 60-megapixel digital Hasselblad camera.
From a logistical standpoint, Edmaier explains, “As my favorite motifs, geological structures, are mostly very large, I need to shoot my images from a greater distance. Only from a bird’s eye view can I manage to capture these phenomena and to visualize them in a certain ‘ideal’ composition.” Then, there are, of course, aesthetics driving his methods. “This perspective perfectly allows me an exciting interplay of concrete documentation and somehow detached reduction and abstraction, with more accentuation of the latter,” he adds.
Looking at an Edmaier photograph, your eye might trace a fracture, fault, rock fold or pattern of erosion like it would the stroke of a brush until, without any geographic coordinates or other means of orientation, you find yourself thinking you could be gazing at an abstract painting.
In his new book, EarthART, published by Phaidon, the aerial genius presents a broad survey, from the islands of the Bahamas to the alpine meadows of Italy’s Dolomites and Germany’s Alps, the rugged desert of California’s Death Valley to a bubbling mud pool in New Zealand ominously named “Hell’s Gate,” in 150 images organized–quite beautifully–
by color: blue, green, yellow, orange, red, violet, brown, grey and white.
“Each photograph is accompanied by a caption explaining how, where and why these spectacular colors occur: from tropical turquoise seas to icy blue glaciers; from lush green forests to rivers turned green by microscopically small algae,” reads the book jacket. Edmaier was particularly enamored with the Cerros de Visviri, a mountain range on the Chile-Bolivia border that he calls “an orgy of all shades of orange.” The oranges, yellows, reds and browns are the result of a chemical alteration of the iron in volcanic rocks turning to iron oxide and iron hydroxide.
The book reads like a plea not to take these colors and geologic wonders for granted. In the introduction, Jung-Hüttl, a science writer, describes how the Earth’s hues developed over 4.6 billion years:
“Our planet was first a grey cloud of cosmic dust, then, following collisions with meteorites and comets, a glowing red fire ball of molten rock, the surface of which cooled off gradually before solidifying to form a dark crust. Enormous quantities of water vapor in the early atmosphere, which was acid and without oxygen, led to intense precipitations on the young earth, which in turn led to the creation of oceans over the course of several millions of years. In the cold regions, the white of the ice fields was added to the blue of the water…The widespread shades of red, yellow and brown first occurred when the earth was half as old as it is today, that is to say around 2 billion years ago. These shades are the result of chemical rock weathering, which only became possible once small amounts of oxygen had become enriched in the earth’s atmosphere…Much later, around 500 million years ago, the first green land plants settled on the banks of the waters and spread gradually across the continents.”
Edmaier thinks most humans have a very anthropocentric view of the world. “In our imagination, the Earth or Earth’s surface is something eternal or with very little changes. But the opposite is true. Infinite processes are continuously remodeling the surface and interior of the Earth. But only a few processes are directly observable,” he says. The photographer specifically chooses landscapes that have not yet been touched or altered by humans.
“Most of these spots are fragile, nature-created formations which, in the long run, will be unable to resist man’s unstoppable urge to exploit. They will alter and ultimately disappear,” says Edmaier. “So, I would be happy if at least some viewers of my images decide for themselves that the remaining intact natural landscapes are worth preserving.”
October 15, 2013
The sea has been the stage for monstrosities and strange tales since antiquity. And, why not? Unlike land, the ocean is constantly shifting and moving, with currents that could carry a ship off course and storms that threaten wrecks. Even the substance itself, seawater, is often cold and dark, and deadly to drink in quantity. So, what of the creatures that were thought to live there?
The sea monsters that populated European medieval and renaissance imaginations—fierce-toothed animals battling in the waves, long serpents wrapped around ships, torturously beautiful sirens and a wide assortment of chimeric beings—are the subject of two new books. Sea Monsters on Medieval and Renaissance Maps, by Chet Van Duzer, and Sea Monsters: A Voyage around the World’s Most Beguiling Map,by Joseph Nigg, both focus exclusively on illustrations, several of which are included here, of such monsters on old maps.
More than mere marginalia and playful illustration, cartographers drew sea monsters to enchant viewers while educating them about what could be found in the sea. Most of the decorated maps weren’t used for navigation, but rather were displayed by wealthy people. That doesn’t mean the monsters were purely ornamental inventions though. “To our eyes, almost all of the sea monsters on all of these maps seem quite whimsical, but in fact, a lot of them were taken from what the cartographers viewed as scientific, authoritative books,” said author Chet Van Duzer in a podcast with Lapham’s Quarterly. “So most of the sea monsters reflect an effort on the part of the cartographer to be accurate in the depiction of what lived in the sea.”
There was a long-held theory, going back to at least the first century with Pliny the Elder’s Natural History, that every land animal has an equivalent in the ocean. There were thought to be sea dogs, sea lions, sea pigs—you name it. Some of these are now the names of real animals—sea lions are eared seals and sea pigs are deep-water sea cucumbers (tube-like relatives of sea stars) with legs. But the medieval imaginings were the literal hybrid of fish with the known land animal.
Some of the illustrations, however, are closer to real animals but warped into monstrous forms. Whales were typically drawn with beastly heads, like a cross between a wolf and a bird, with tusks or large teeth and waterspouts. Despite their generally gentle nature, they were often drawn attacking ships. While it’s unlikely that such confrontations were frequent, it’s easy to imagine the fear welling up when a sailor spotted the back of a whale longer than his ship rise above the waves. If it jumps from the water, is it on the attack?
These uneducated sailors were the main sources for artists and writers trying to describe life in the ocean. So, their reports of monsters—from the singing sirens that lure sailors to jump to their deaths to the the lobster-like “octopuses” and various serpents and worms—became the basis of natural history texts and drawings on maps. These maps then helped perpetuate the life of these creatures, as they inspired travelers on the dangerous sea to confirm their existence.
However, at the end of the 17th century, sea monsters start to disappear from maps. European understanding of science was growing, and the printing press made the spread of realistic images easier. “As technology advanced, as our understanding of the oceans and navigation advanced, more emphasis was placed on human’s ability to master the watery element: to sail on it and conduct trade on it,” Van Duzer told Lapham’s. “And thus images of the dangers of the sea, while they certainly did not immediately disappear from maps in the 17th century, became less frequent over time, and images of ships became more common.”
There were still illustrations on maps, but they were far more pragmatic. Ships indicated areas of safe passage, while drawings of fish and whales showed good fishing areas. On one map from the early 17th century, vignettes illustrated how to kill and process a whale. “Whales, the largest creatures in the ocean, are no longer monsters but rather natural marine storehouses of commodities to be harvested,” wrote Van Duzer. Some of the mystery is gone as the sea becomes another resource rather than a churning darkness to be feared.
Just when you think that we’ve lost that sense of awe at the sea, captured in these old maps and texts, we are reminded that much remains to be discovered in the ocean. This year, both the giant squid and the 15-foot megamouth shark were filmed for the first time, and there is still plenty to learn about each. We’re still dazzled by bioluminescent light displays in the deep, or the surreal, shimmering movements of schools of millions of tiny fish. The awe continues—it’s just based on fact rather than fantasy.
Learn more about the ocean at the Smithsonian’s Ocean Portal.
October 9, 2013
On March 10, 2006, seven months after an Atlas rocket boosted it into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida, the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter fell into place in the Red Planet’s orbit. Since then, the $720 million spacecraft has been hovering 150 to 200 miles above the surface of Mars, surveying for suitable landing sites for future missions and any evidence that water once flowed there.
On board the MRO is one of the heftiest and most adept cameras ever to document a planet’s terrain. The HiRISE, short for High Resolution Imaging Science Experiment, has captured more than 29,000 insanely-detailed images—of a highly-concentrated 1.8 percent of the surface of Mars—in seven years.“The images taken by HiRISE…reveal all of the beauty of Mars,” writes Alfred S. McEwen, a planetary science professor at the University of Arizona and principal investigator for HiRISE, in This is Mars, a new book published by Aperture. “While their quality and precision are indispensable for the scientific success of the MRO’s mission, they also faithfully capture the planet’s mysterious splendor.”
“Physical processes have produced pleasing patterns on its surface, such as polygons, stair-stepped layers, flowing sand dunes, meandering river deposits, lava flows with spiraling coils, explosive impact craters with dramatic radial patterns, eroded mesas with vertical cliffs, layered ice deposits over the poles, icy flows over the middle latitudes, dust deposits with strange textures, and,” he continues, “sharp-rimmed gullies that look like they formed just yesterday (some of them did).”
The wonder was certainly not lost on French photographer, designer and editor Xavier Barral. Barral grew up in the shadows of the Paris Observatory and has been interested in space for decades. For the purposes of compiling This is Mars, a half-art, half-science glossy coffee table book, he approached NASA and was granted access to a massive archive of Mars images.
Barral scanned multiple times the roughly 30,000 photographs taken by the MRO—an equivalent of more than 300,000 miles were he to have walked the distance represented by each photo by foot. Along the way, he consulted with McEwen and other scientists, including astrophysicist Francis Rocard and geophysicist Nicolas Mangold, who helped identify and explain the geological features he saw. But, first and foremost, Barral sought compellingly composed photos—he hand-selected about 150 images to feature in his book.
Each black-and-white photograph in the book covers a swath of Mars 3.7 miles wide, and yet no two are alike in their swirls, ridges, pock marks, blotches and striations.
“I can’t prevent myself from seeing references to all of art history,” says Barral. “It is all intertwined. All these geological shapes have artistic qualities.”
The designer extracted the most surprising points of view, in his opinion, from the MRO’s collection. “What surprises me in these observations of Mars is the unsuspected shapes of the landscape, showing 4.5 billion years of history,” he says. “These observations bring us closer to the remote—in time and in space—and fuel our imagination.”
In his book, Barral wanted to replicate his experience of coming to these enigmatic compositions, unversed in the geology of Mars, for his viewers, and so reproduced the photographs at a fairly large scale, nearly 13 inches by about 9 inches, without any labels. Only in the back of the book does he provide a key, detailing the actual landmarks and their geographic coordinates.
“At the end of this voyage, I have gathered here the most endemic landscapes. They send us back to Earth, to the genesis of geological forms, and, at the same time, they upend our reference points: dunes that are made of black sand, ice that sublimates,” writes Barral in the book. “These places and reliefs can be read as a series of hieroglyphs that take us back to our origins.”
September 12, 2013
Throughout his career, photographer Edward Burtynsky has been on a quest to capture the impact humans have on the natural landscape. “Nature transformed through industry” is how he puts it. Burtynsky has photographed e-waste recycling facilities in China, nickel tailings in Ontario, railways cutting through the forests of British Columbia, quarries in Vermont and mines in Australia. He has also turned his lens to suburban sprawl, highways, tire piles, oil fields and refineries.
“I think it’s been a bit of an evolution,” says Burtynsky, about his body of work, “and it is always a challenge to kind of go to that next phase and try and solve a whole new set of problems.”
This fall, the acclaimed Canadian photographer is releasing a powerful trifecta: a new book, a documentary film and multiple exhibitions all on the theme of water.
From 2007 to 2013, Burtynsky journeyed across the United States, Mexico, Iceland, Europe and Asia documenting our dependency on the natural resource. The series of aerial photographs depicts the many ways humans literally reshape the Earth—from waterfront development in Florida to dryland farming in Spain, hydroelectric dams in China and ancient stepwells in India to desert shrimp farms in Mexico—in an effort to harness water for their own needs. In some of the images, most memorably those of Owens Lake and the Colorado River Delta, water is conspicuously absent, showing quite dramatically the consequences of our engineering.
The photographer’s new book, Burtynsky – Water, released by Steidl this month, features more than 100 of the photographs. Similarly, Watermark, a 92-minute documentary Burtynsky co-directed with Jennifer Baichwal, premiering at this month’s Toronto International Film Festival and showing in Canadian theaters this October, is chock full of footage from his travels.
There will be multiple opportunities to see the large-scale photographs on display as well. The Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery and Howard Greenberg Gallery, both in New York, are showing Burtynsky’s work from September 19 to November 2, 2013. Then, “Edward Burtynsky – Water,” a 60-plus piece exhibition organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art will make the first stop of a multi-site tour at the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, from October 5 to January 19, 2014.
I had the opportunity to speak with Burtynsky about his motivations for Water, his thought process in choosing the locations he featured and some of the challenges he faced in the shoots. He also told me why he thinks this series is his most poetic to date.
You have photographed strip mines, tailing ponds and quarries. What made you turn to water as a subject?
At the Corcoran [Gallery of Art], I got the chance to work with Paul Roth, who is a curator, and we did a big show on oil. I had been working on oil on and off for 12 years. Finishing the oil project, I started to think about where to go next. Water seemed to be even more important than oil in terms of a vital resource. Without oil, it is going to be difficult, but we can do work-arounds. There are at least alternatives. But there really is no alternative to water.
Yes, there are the oceans. We can imagine a way to desalinate it, but industrial desalination, pumping water over great distances and the pipelines involved are very costly. We may have to resort to piping it to keep certain cities alive, but a far more clever idea would be to not expand into deserts very much and to be able to maintain and manage the existing water we have as best as possible to not be wasteful. Water is a finite resource like anything else. It can be over-used, abused and can disappear.
The locations you shot for Water span the globe. How did you decide on them? What criteria did you have?
Visually, it needs to have some substance. All of these images are representing a much larger human activity. The dam that represents all dams. The farm that represents all farms. It is really about representing these different themes of agriculture; aquaculture; the source of water; waterfront as real estate and waterfront as spiritual cleansing, like the Kumbh Mela festival in India; and water as a form of entertainment—beaches in Spain or the surfing derbies in Orange County at Huntington Beach.
Then, it is about looking at water where we’ve got it wrong, where something has happened, like Owens Lake, where the Los Angeles aquaduct was diverted back in 1913. [The diversion led to] the whole drying up of Owens Lake and a toxic lake bed that causes all kinds of dust storms that rain down on other towns in the area. The Salton Sea was another area under distress, because all of the pollutants coming in from the Imperial Valley and the Central Valley going into the Salton Sea were causing all kinds of algal blooms, where all the oxygen has been sucked out of it and all of the fish that swim into it die.
What was the greatest length you went to in order to perch yourself up in the air for a shot?
Probably the most complicated is putting my Hasselblad [camera] onto a remote helicopter that could carry the load and all of the technology we had to figure out to get a camera in the IP so that I could see what I was framing. To be able to remotely fly a helicopter, see what I am shooting and compose and shoot from about 1,000 feet away looking at a screen—to me, that was a bit nerve-wracking. I think the helicopter was insured for $150,000, and I had a $60,000 get-up on it. We had $210,000 hovering up there, above water [over a marine aquaculture site in China]. Nobody lost anything, but it was a pretty pricey little payload up there doing that work.
You stress the aerial perspective. Why is it important to lose the horizon within the frame?
Sometimes I keep it and sometimes I lose it. Usually, I only keep a thin amount of it. Most of the time I am looking at the ground or human systems on the ground. I am interested in how we change the land and turn land into things that we need, whether it is farmland, a quarry, a strip coal mine or an oil field. We take that area over and we do what we feel necessary to get what we need to get from it. I needed to get up to see the effect.
You can try and photograph a farm from the road, but you’ll see stalks of corn or stalks of a wheat and you don’t get the sense of scale of that operation. You can never get a feeling for how broad and how wide farming reaches. Getting up in a helicopter or getting up on tall lifts became an apparent way to tell the story of water. It calls for a large view and a greater distance—to understand what is actually happening, how water is being directed and what is changing that land, a desert into cropland.
In the book’s introduction, you say that “this project encompasses some of the most poetic and abstract work of my career.” How so?
In some of the Spanish dryland farming pictures, there is definitely a reference to [artist Jean] Dubuffet, even the colors of Picasso. There are some colors that I remember in Guernica. Even the way the space is broken up and used. [Richard] Diebenkorn had done a lot of what almost looked like aerial perspectives of landscape. I found them interesting works to look at.
There were a lot of moments when I felt the locations and the subject allowed me to kind of approach it with the eye of a painter. I have always kind of treated my film cameras, my 8 by 10 or 4 by 5 and now with a 16 megapixel, as a way to fill the canvas or that frame. What do I fill that frame with? I am constantly putting myself in that crucible. What do I make an image of next? That is always, to me, the great challenge of what I do. The actual making of the image is always quite fun—challenging, but fun. The heavy lifting has been done. I know where I want to go and what it is I want to shoot. Now, I have to nail it. Now, I have to find it. To me, it is deductive reasoning and a bit of detective work to get to the right spot, to maneuver yourself into that place with the right light and at the right time and the right equipment to get the shot that you really wanted.
I was at one point socked in China, when I was doing the rice terraces, for eight days and then left with nothing. It was just fog for eight days. The forseeable report was the next week all fog. I needed two kilometers of clear air to get the shot that I wanted. The time of the year and the place wasn’t going to give it to me. I had to leave. Then, I went back a year later and got one day when the light was great in a six day shoot. That was it.
The series surveys the many ways that humans control water—through marine aquaculture, pivot irrigation and geothermal power stations. What was the most interesting thing you learned?
I never before bothered to ask myself, where does water come from? And, an astrophysicist filled me in that it was from ice asteroids bombarding the Earth. Any ice that still hits our atmosphere gets drawn in by gravity, so water is still coming to the Earth. Small ice chunks and asteroids are still probably hitting our atmosphere and raining down as water.
I asked, why are the oceans salty? That was interesting, because the hydrological cycle and the water that hits the mountains and works down to the watersheds every time dissolves a little bit of salt. That salt stays in solution and ends up in the ocean. The ocean evaporates, and the water still comes back on land. So, the oceans are continually salinating, getting more and more salty over the billions of years.
The minute we humans take water away from a watershed, meaning redivert that water, there is a price being exacted somewhere downstream. It is either the flora and fauna; the life that lives downstream expects that water at a certain temperature and if you dam it, the water comes down warmer, which changes the whole ecosystem downstream. Every time we divert water there is a winner and a loser; the person who got the diversion wins and wherever the water was going and that part of the watershed loses. If you remove that obstruction, it goes right back to what it was very quickly. When you remediate it, it is almost immediate.
It was interesting finding out that 40 percent of the major rivers of the world don’t make it to the ocean. One of them became a very powerful metaphor in the book and the movie, which is the Colorado River Delta in Mexico. The Sea of Cortez hasn’t seen a drop of the Colorado now in over 40 years. I mention that to a lot of Americans and they don’t even know that. The delta used to be verdant with brackish water and all kinds of life in it. The whole delta, the massive, 1,000-square-mile Colorado Delta, is now a bone-dry desert.
What statement do you hope to make with the photographs?
It is not as much about a statement as it is a raising of consciousness. After seeing and delving into this body of work, whoever goes through that will in a way think differently about the role that water plays. Maybe we shouldn’t take it as much for granted as we tend to do as urban citizens who turn on a tap and it’s always there. It’s when that water is coming out of the tap, that there is a slightly elevated and more conscientious view of the importance of that liquid.
With the manufactured landscapes of my previous project in China, what I had hoped was that when someone sees the “Made in China” tag on anything that they are buying, that “Made in China” has a different impression. The series showed a lot of the manufacturing facilities in China and what that looks like. Now there is an image you can associate with “Made in China.”
I am hoping that these are images attached to the idea of water, so that next time you are experiencing it, whether swimming in a lake or a pool or drinking it, maybe the next time you are buying bottled water, you may ask yourself, is this a good idea, or should I just be refilling my water? The monetization of water is to me a very troubling and scary proposition. You have to have money to drink water, I think that’s wrong. I think water is a right to life. If you charge for water, then logically speaking you should be able to charge for air next.
Do you consider yourself an activist?
I consider myself an advocate for sustainability and a concerned citizen. We [as humans] now clearly have control of the planet, and this is the first time in the history of the planet that the fate of the planet is tied to what we do to it. We have never been there before. It is a question of whether we can act quickly enough and decisively in the right direction to avert the worst of what may be coming. That is a question that just remains to be seen.
An activist, not necessarily. I pull myself back. I prefer to address it more through stills and imagery, now motion picture, and through the writings in my book, to bring awareness and to raise consciousness that this is something that we need to pay attention to. This can come back and get us. For me to move freely through subjects and countries, I would be severely restricted as a card-carrying activist. I am better off as more the poet than the activist. I am going into sensitive places. If those countries or those corporations thought that I was interested in indicting their activities, then why would they let me in? It is pragmatic.
I also believe in the long run it [the imagery] is a very interesting way to bring people to their own conclusions, to understand what the problems are and to own those. I’m not telling them how to think about it. But, if they spend the time to understand what I’m doing, I think logically they will arrive at concern. In that way, if they arrive at it themselves, they will own it in a more powerful way.
“Water” is on display at the Bryce Wolkowitz Gallery and Howard Greenberg Gallery, both in New York, from September 19 to November 2, 2013. The traveling exhibition “Edward Burtynsky – Water” begins its tour at the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans, from October 5 to January 19, 2014.
July 19, 2013
Norman Barker was fresh out of the Maryland Institute College of Art when he got an assignment to photograph a kidney. The human kidney, extracted during an autopsy, was riddled with cysts, a sign of polycystic kidney disease.
“The physician told me to make sure that it’s ‘beautiful’ because it was being used for publication in a prestigious medical journal,” writes Barker in his latest book, Hidden Beauty: Exploring the Aesthetics of Medical Science. “I can remember thinking to myself; this doctor is crazy, how am I going to make this sickly red specimen look beautiful?”
Thirty years later, the medical photographer and associate professor of pathology and art at the Johns Hopkins University’s School of Medicine will tell you that debilitating human diseases can actually be quite photogenic under the microscope, particularly when the professionals studying them use color stains to enhance different shapes and patterns.
“Beauty may be seen as the delicate lacework of cells within the normal human brain, reminiscent of a Jackson Pollock masterpiece, the vibrant colored chromosomes generated by spectral karyotyping that reminded one of our colleagues of the childhood game LITE-BRITE or the multitude of colors and textures formed by fungal organisms in a microbiology lab,” says Christine Iacobuzio-Donahue, a pathologist at the Johns Hopkins Hospital who diagnoses gastrointestinal diseases.
Barker and Iacobuzio-Donahue share in interest in how medical photography can take diseased tissue and render it otherworldly, abstract, vibrant and thought-provoking. Together, they collected nearly 100 images of human diseases and other ailments from more than 60 medical science professionals for Hidden Beauty, a book and accompanying exhibition. In each image, there is an underlying tension. The jarring moment, of course, is when viewers realize that the subject of the lovely image before them is something that can cause so much pain and distress.
Here is a selection from Hidden Beauty:
Research shows that close to 50 percent of those over 85 years in age have Alzheimer’s, a degenerative neurological disorder that causes dementia. Diagnosing the disease can be tough—the only true test to confirm that a patient has Alzheimer’s is done post-mortem. A doctor collects a sample of brain tissue, stains it and looks for abnormal clusters of protein called amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. In this sample (above) of brain tissue, the brown splotches are amyloid plaques.
A person’s stomach produces acids to help digest food, but if those acids enter the esophagus, one can be in for a real treat: raging heartburn. Gastroesophageal reflux, in some cases, leads to Barrett’s esophagus, a condition where cells from the small intestine start popping up in the lower esophagus, and Barrett’s esophagus can be a precursor to esophageal cancer. The biopsy (above) of the lining of an esophagus has dark blue cells, signaling that this person has Barrett’s.
The electron micrograph (above) shows what happens in the circulatory system of someone with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). The blue in the image is a white blood cell, referred to as a CD4 positive T cell, and the cell is sprouting a new HIV particle, the polyp shown here in red and orange.
This pile (above) of what might look like nuts, fossils or even corals is actually of gallstones. Gallstones can form in a person’s gall bladder, a pear-shaped organ positioned under the liver; they vary in shape and size (from something comparable to a grain of salt to a ping pong ball), depending on the specific compounds from bile that harden to form them.
According to estimates, about 2 billion people in the world have Hepatitis B virus (shown above), or HBV. Those who have contracted the virus, through contact with a carrier’s blood or other bodily fluids, can develop the liver disease, Hepatitis B. When chronic, Hepatitis B is known to cause cirrhosis and liver cancer.
When a person develops cirrhosis, typically from drinking alcohol in excess or a Hepatitis B or C infection, his or her liver tissue (shown above, in pink) is choked by fibrous tissue (in blue). The liver, which has a remarkable ability to regenerate when damaged, tries to produce more cells, but the restricting web of fibrous tissues ultimately causes the organ to shrink.
Emphysema (shown above, in a smoker’s lung) is the unfortunate side effect of another unhealthy habit, smoking. With the disease, what happens is that big gaps (seen as white spots in the image) develop in the lung tissue, which disrupt the exchange of oxygen and carbon dioxide and result in labored breathing. The black coloration on this sample is actual carbon that has built up from this person smoking packs and packs of cigarettes over a stretch of many years.