Los Angeles-based photographer Rose-Lynn Fischer has released a work titled “The Topography of Tears”. This is an examination of tears under a microscope during a range of different emotional states and physical reactions. Using a Zeiss microscope in combination with a digital camera, she photographed the composition of tears at magnifications from 10x to 40x. The project began during a period of personal loss, when Rose-Lynn cried a lot. Instead of putting the tears aside, she decided to look at them under a microscope. She was surprised to find that some of the tears actually looked like aerial shots of the Earth. All the water, proteins, minerals, hormones, antibodies and enzymes in the tear mimicked the rivers, fields and buildings on Earth.
Ultimately, she began to wonder if a tear of grief looked different than a tear of joy, or, for example, a tear while chopping an onion. The photographer was also curious to know if men’s tears were different from women’s tears.
Soon her sample size grew as she attempted to collect and record all three of the classified types of tears; basic, or lubricating tears; reflexive tears, as a reaction to an irritant, like an onion; and tears that touch our emotions.
All tears contain many biological substances diluted in salt water, but their composition can vary significantly. In addition, the circumstances and conditions under which the tear dries can lead to radically dissimilar patterns.
“There are many factors that determine the look of each tear image, including tear viscosity, microscope settings, and the way I process the images afterwards,” says the photographer.