Cleared by Adam Summers

Washington-based professor Adam Summers uses coloured dyes to create these beautifully detailed images of fish that look like coloured x-ray for his photo series 'Cleared'.

The associate director of Comparative Vertebrate Biomechanics at Washington University collected the specimens from various fisheries and treated them at the Biomechanics Lab at Friday Harbour in Washington.

"The technique uses two vital dyes – Alcian Blue to stain cartilaginous elements a deep blue and Alizarin Red S to turn mineralized tissue crimson. The specimen is then lightly bleached with hydrogen peroxide to remove dark pigments, leaving a snow-white fish. Flesh is dissolved with Trypsin, a digestive enzyme found in your intestine… In order to make the skin and remaining connective tissue invisible the entire specimen is immersed in glycerin."

"This technique is only effective on specimens that are less than about 1cm in thickness, and takes much longer for thick specimens than thin. A small fish might take 3 days to process while a larger animal could take several months."

"Images are made while the fish is in glycerin on a light table with flash fill lighting."

Summers photographed the fishes using a Canon 5D Mark III camera fitted with a 100mm Macro lens. The resulting photos are a collection of images that look like colored x-rays.

All images are © Copyright of Adam Summers

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