Bringing Science and Photography Together with Fabian Oefner

My name is Fabian Oefner, and I live in Switzerland. I have always had a vidid interest in both photography and science. At a very early age, I started using my parent's basement, the attic, and pretty much all of the other rooms in their house to conduct photo experiments with water balloons, exploding materials, and throwing around various things against the wall. As you can imagine this wasn't always to my parents delight.

After university, I started doing photography at a professional level. I began working as a product photographer for an international company, a job which led me to different places all over the world. Besides that, I continued my experiments of bringing art and science together, now in a more sophisticated environment than my parents basement—a proper photo studio.

Nowadays, besides realizing free projects like "Black Hole," I collaborate with ad agencies from Seuol, New York, to Amsterdam on international campaigns.

What I find fascinating about science and art is that they both look at the same thing: the world that surounds us. And yet they do it in a very different way: Art has more of an emotional approach to the world whereas science has a more rational approach to it.

By bringing those two fields together, I would like my images to both speak to the viewer`s heart and also to the viewer`s brain. There is definitely an emotional component to my images, and you can appreciate them for their beauty of colors and shapes. And at the same time there is a very rational component to it. The way it was created is based on simple, scientific phenomena. By showing this phenomena in an unseen and poetic way, I would like to invite the viewer to find out more about it, which will hopefully make us appreciate the magic that's constantly around us even more.

Black Hole is part of a bigger series, which is based on paint being modeled by different forces, such as centripetal force, gravity and others.

The inspiration for this project comes from looking at the drip paintings of Jackson Pollock. Contrary to Pollock`s masterpieces, which show the result of his action painting, I am putting the focus on showing the action itself: how does it look when paint gets whirled around by centripetal forces? Or by air pressure? So I am not so much interested in what happens when the paint hits the canvas or any other surface, but rather what happens in between.

What I enjoyed most about the project is the fact that I really didn't know how it would turn out when I started. It's the magical moment, when you look at your camera's back LCD and you see this magnificent structure glowing in the dark after the the drill comes to a full stop.

The paint whirls around very, very fast, so I am using custom-built flashes to freeze the motion of the paint.

As for capturing the event, I use different kinds of cameras, from digital medium format to DSLR Full Frame cameras. In this case, I used a Nikon D800 plus Zeiss Lenses, which is, according to my judgement, really the combination that gives you the best results with this system.

I have to admit that I don't protect my gear very well, except for the sensitive parts. As you can imagine, the Black Hole project was quite messy…I could actually sell my D800 now as a "Jackson Pollock Special Edition." :)

I am really happy with all of my projects so far. The one that is my favorite at the moment is the one that I am currently working on. It is not yet published. It has to do with the combustion of alcohol. The results look really stunning, I hope to release it within the next month.

Be sure to visit Fabian's website to view more of his stunning projects, including another of our favorites Dancing Colors.

KEEP UP WITH FABIAN: Website | 500px

Black holeFabian oefnerMarch 2013