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ABOUT

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Having spent 19 years jumping through the hoops of academia, which culminated in a work placement at a genetics lab in California and a Microbiology lab in Leeds, the urge to rekindle the creative spark of earlier years could no longer be ignored.

For all the benefits bestowed, the rigid framework underlining academic approaches did a great job in quelling the innovative states of mind I considered to be of greatest value. Institutionalized academia appeared to effectively harness the mind to a narrow spit of intellectual ground amidst an ocean of potential for creativity. All the trappings of an intellective ego, overly-conditioned by deep-rooted scholastic dogma were evident. However, now the free spirited child within had a burning desire to traverse the ocean, plummet haphazardly into its fathomless depths and muzzle the academic pedigree.

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A major juncture came as the fundamental aspects of relativity and quantum theory finally plunged into my sphere of understanding. The bubble of indoctrination burst in a single cascading moment of epiphanous awareness. New orbits of unrealized potential spiraled into being, weaving intricate paths through the fabric of my psyche. The yoke of academic nurturing was finally lifted and the curiosity of childhood re-emerged with a mystical aplomb.

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The allure of exploring the multifaceted perpetuations of Nature, culture and sensory curiosities has carried me to many countries, over many continents in the world. More often than not, I travel alone. The vulnerability of solitary travel sharpens ones senses, with bizarre encounters becoming commonplace. I also find myself drawn towards the more remote areas, where the impact of mankind is less pronounced and the wonderment of Nature can be appreciated in its full glory. It was during my travels in India, with its rich cultural heritage, vivid spirituality and epic landscapes that I became fascinated by the possibilities of photography.

Why photography?

Whilst travelling the backwaters of Kerala, South India, on a traditional bamboo-wicker rice barge. An Osprey (fish eagle) swooped down a few metres in front of me and snatched a large, unsuspecting fish from the serene waters. The Osprey ascended with rapid wingbeats, as it flew off to find a perch on which to devour its prey. Once it had cleared the water it began maneuvering the writhing fish in the death grip of its talons, so that the fish faced the direction of flight. A technique used in order to maximize aerodynamics by reducing drag. I was awestricken by the spectacle, but instinctively snapped away furiously with my compact point-and-shoot camera. Once the Osprey had vanished from view, I turned to the camera to view the shots of the scene I felt so privileged to have taken.

To my dismay, the shots were dreadful. The Osprey swooped to within about 5 metres of where I stood on the deck of the boat. I was expecting a Wildlife photographer of the year worthy shot, yet the camera merely captured a small blurry feathered mass moving through the air against a backdrop of reedbeds. The photos could have portrayed a seagull, or a vanilla ice cream hurtling towards a surfacing fish.

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Why Macro?

Shooting mostly landscapes meant that my camera would seldom leave the confines of my backpack, as the only favourable natural lighting was present during the 15 minutes or so at sunrise and sunset. Thus I often felt encumbered by carrying around a heavy backpack full of camera gear all day long. On a trip to Jerusalem in 2011, I was on mount Olive about to set up a panoramic snapshot of the city, when a robber fly landed beside me, with a mosquito clutched in its proboscis. I took a photo of the Robber fly with my landscape lens and was pleasantly surprised at the results. This led me to investigate the possibilities of macro photography. I discovered I could reverse my existing portrait lens to get fabulous results in the field. A typical hike would now consist of taking landscape photos at sunrise and sunset and macro shots of insects in between.

My curiosity for the macro world advanced and experiments ensued, to get even greater magnification and sharpness. I constructed a macro lens setup over the space of 6 months, guided to some extent by research into optics, but more so by trial and error and getting on all fours in the field to gather interesting bug specimens.

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The main drawback with huge magnifications is that only a tiny fraction of the photograph is in focus. Usually only a cross section of about 0.5mm in depth would appear in focus. This would require inching the camera forward by fractions of a millimeter for each shot in a series. Therefore a typical ultra-macro image with my setup is a composite of 50-150 separate images: only the sharpest areas of each image being incorporated into the final piece.

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BIOGRAPHY

Joshua Bloom was born on the 21st September 1984 in Hackney, North East London, to a Filippino mother and Jewish father of Russian-Romanian descent. He grew up in a culturally diverse part of London, sandwiched between Hackney’s infamous ‘Murder Mile’ and Stamford Hill, which is the centre of a 20,000+ strong ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, the largest in Europe. A great deal of his childhood was spent observing local flora and fauna in the surrounding parks and Hackney Marshes nature reserve. The marshland provided a surprisingly rich variety of species. Even rare birds visited from time to time. During his teenage years the focus shifted more to science and developing artistic skills. Of particular interest was the marvels to be found within Nature, from the microscopic to the cosmic. At age 18 he attended Leeds University to study Microbiology as a feeling arose of having exhausted interest at the surface level and a keen interest developed to learn about the mechanics of living organisms at a molecular level to better understand how Nature operates.