About Me

Karl Gaff is a scientific photographic artist from Dublin. Having undertook university degrees in physics, life sciences and microscopy he has combined his love for science, nature and photography by creating a sumptuous portfolio of artwork that he calls “The Art of Physics & Chemistry”.

A fusion of art and science, his work reveals works of art that manifests during the self-organisation of molecules during crystallisation. Patterns that occur in the chemical crystallisations are beyond our visionary senses and are revealed only through polarisation microscopy. “Nature is the artist, I am just her photographer. I supply her with the ingredients and she weaves them together into the most wonderful forms. We try to understand how she does this through the language of Science, hence why I call my work, “Art of Physics & Chemistry”.

The chemical artwork is made in the laboratory and involves the experimental synthesis of chemicals and subsequent crystallisation methods of them in order to photograph using photomicrographic techniques.

One of the things that inspires Karl to do this research is the occasional thrilling discovery of patterns never before seen in thin film chemical crystallisations. When you witness before your eyes, the sporadic unfolding of crsytalline formations, in an otherwise transparent soup of chemicals, that resemble forests and flower gardens or complicated geometrical organisations, it really blows your mind! On witnessing such events, it’s easy to recognise how nature is written in the language of physics and mathematics – these crystalline formations are beautiful examples of thermodynamics in action whilst their constitues are governed by the erratic symphonies of quantum mechanics!

Olympus 2022 Calendar

Earlier in the year I was approached by Olympus Life Science to produce their calendar for 2022 using their brand new range of X Line objectives. Thoudands of images produced throughout the year have been rounded down to just fourteen, two of which shown here make the calendar cover and the background to my profile on the inside cover.

Louisiana Art & Science Museum

Humans live in a world of colour. Colour is all around us - red, blue, yellow, and everything in between. But what about those special colours that transform as your angle of viewing shifts? Colours that encompass the rainbow and are often described as such, yet aren't actually a rainbow? This is known as iridescence.

In its latest fine art exhibition, the Louisiana Art & Science Museum has partnered with Dr. Nathan Lord, Assistant Professor in the Department of Entomology and Director of the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum, to explore iridescence. Through works of art by Karl Gaff (Ireland), Ted Kinsman (New York), Christopher Marley (Oregon), Kate Nichols (California), Soo Sunny Park (New Hampshire), Jennifer Robison (Louisiana), and Franziska Schenk (England), along with partners from Louisiana State University, visitors will uncover the scientific principles that explain the rainbow-like, colour-shifting phenomenon of iridescence. There is more to this captivating occurrence than meets the eye.

I am honoured to have been invited to showcase 5 of my polarised light photomicrograph art works in the "Iridescence" exhibition during the period of July 17, 2021 - July 31, 2022.

Learn more at exploreiridescence.com. All images are courtesy of the artists.

A Closeup of Soap!

What is it you might ask? This is a close-up of one of our defenses against COVID-19, Soap! Magnified approximately 250 times, the mezmerising colours come about due to thin film interference. The process of thin film interference in soap occurs when light reflects off the top and bottom surfaces of the double-layered lipid film, providing that the film is thin enough. In order for this kind of interference to occur, the thickness of the film must lie in the nanometer regime. Water gushing around inside the bilayer causes the colours to swirl and the patterns to evolve with time. Where the film is extremely thin, it appears as black as the cosmic abyss. The photography is of particular importance not only as scienceart and science education but also during these frightening times of the COVID-19 Pandemic. The rainbow colours represent the colours of support to primary health care workers.

Thank you to Kevin Kendle for his kind permission to use stellar this piece of music for the background. The song is called "Merope" from his album "Light from the Pleiades".

Thank you to Kevin Kendle for his kind permission to use stellar this piece of music for the background. The song is called "Merope" from his album "Light from the Pleiades".

My interview with Science Photo Library

Humans live in a world of colour. Colour is all around us - red, blue, yellow, and everything in between. But what about those special colours that transform as your angle of viewing shifts? Colours that encompass the rainbow and are often described as such, yet aren't actually a rainbow? This is known as iridescence.

In its latest fine art exhibition, the Louisiana Art & Science Museum has partnered with Dr. Nathan Lord, Assistant Professor in the Department of Entomology and Director of the Louisiana State Arthropod Museum, to explore iridescence. Through works of art by Karl Gaff (Ireland), Ted Kinsman (New York), Christopher Marley (Oregon), Kate Nichols (California), Soo Sunny Park (New Hampshire), Jennifer Robison (Louisiana), and Franziska Schenk (England), along with partners from Louisiana State University, visitors will uncover the scientific principles that explain the rainbow-like, colour-shifting phenomenon of iridescence. There is more to this captivating occurrence than meets the eye.

Learn more at exploreiridescence.com. All images are courtesy of the artists.

Exhibitions

Science Photographer of the Year 2020

The inaugural Science Photographer of the Year exhibition showcases extraordinary, breathtaking images of science in action. Bringing together science and art, this exhibition celebrates the wonders of the scientific world with everything from space to the human body. The exhibition took place at the Manchester Museum of Science & Industry.

Art of Physics & Chemistry 2020

This solo exhibition showcased my best artworks made up to 2019. It showed chemicals in ways never seen before, making the invisible visible through colourful works of art.

Science Photographer of the Year 2019

The inaugural Science Photographer of the Year exhibition showcases extraordinary, breathtaking images of science in action. Bringing together science and art, this exhibition celebrates the wonders of the scientific world with everything from space to the human body. The exhibition took place at the London Science Museum.

Images from Science 3

The exhibition 'Images from Science 3' was dedicated in remembrance to Lennart Nilsson. Nilsson passed away January 2017 at the age of 95. The internationally well known Swedish photographer was born in 1922. Nilsson began experimenting photographing science in the 1950’s. In 1965, his groundbreaking work was featured in Life magazine. At the time his innovation revealed science in new and powerful ways. Nilsson's photographs made the invisible visible and helped communicate science using pictures to new audiences.

Images from Science 3 was organized to celebrate the production of extraordinary images featuring science. At its core mission, the project aimed to explore the interface of science, technology, art, design, and communication. Science images unlike most other genres of images rarely find their way into art museums.

Rochester Institute of Technology Professors Michael Peres, Bob Rose, Chris Jackson, and Ted Kinsman, and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Professor Norman Barker are passionate about scientific images. They have enjoyed long careers as photographers and designers, but also as authors, educators, and industry leaders. Because of their interests in science images, they collaborated to produce the third traveling exhibition sharing some of the world’s most extraordinary images and image-makers who explore science as a subject.

Art of Physics & Chemistry 2020

This solo exhibition showcased my best artworks made up to 2019. It showed chemicals in ways never seen before, making the invisible visible through colourful works of art.

A Visual Odyssey into the Invisible World

This solo exhibition at the National Botanic Gardens, Dublin was my first exhibition. On display were my scanning electron microscopy art of various botanical subjects such as lichens and ferns.