Microsculpture – The Insect Portraits of Levon Biss


Levon Biss is a successful commercial photographer. His work has been used in advertising, on magazines and in a book about soccer. Now he has an exhibition of his images of insects, showing the Oxford University Museum of Natural History’s insect collection in stunning detail. The exhibition runs from May 27 to October 30, 2016, and it’s called Microsculpture. The prints range in size up to three meters, each an image of a tiny insect captured down to the finest detail.

These are not just snapshots of pretty bugs. Each image takes about three weeks to complete. He shoots each insect in sections — about thirty on average — and then compiles the shots into a single, complete image. In all, he shoots 8,000 to 10,000 photographs of each bug, then combines the best parts of them into the final product. He needs to get the lighting and the focus just right for each tiny part, so the whole image can be perfectly lighted and focused. Since the depth of field is so small with a microscopic lens, he can only move the camera ten microns between shots. That’s not much more than a tenth of the width of a human hair.

If you want to see the detailed originals of these small samples, follow the links to Levon Biss’s Microsculpture website. There you can see the light reflecting off the individual cells of compound eyes, and count the hairs on little buggy legs. There’s also a video that shows how he did it.

All photos copyright Levon Biss.


3 comments for “Microsculpture – The Insect Portraits of Levon Biss

  1. May 22, 2016 at 11:42

    Beautiful beautiful!!!
    Mesmerizing and thrilling. Wish I could see the exhibit…
    To see these bejeweled buggies is stepping into another world. Thanks for posting this. Fantabulous images.

    • May 22, 2016 at 14:18

      You’ve got to admire the guy’s work ethic. 10,000 photos and three weeks processing for one image.

      • May 23, 2016 at 05:20

        Lots of patience and focus knowing where you want to go and what you want to accomplish… Not a dilettante, that’s for sure 🙂

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