Robert Dash is an educator, naturalist and photographer whose work features the complex textures and patterns of micro nature. His photographs have been published by National Geographic, TIME, and Lenswork, and have appeared in galleries and...
Focus:Photographer, Science, Author
Skills:Digital Printing, Adobe Photoshop, Apple Final Cut Pro, Black & White Printing
Food For Thought/ Micro Views of Sustenance: Threats and Prospects
We humans are busy going about our lives, while nature is in shock from the choices that we make. This series offers a micro perspective on how one part of nature–our food–is connected to climate change. As a career educator, lifetime fan of tiny nature, and photographer, I'm compelled to interpret these issues in a new way.
Every day, we’re more intimately tied to food than most anything else. Foods become our personal friends, or adversaries; these relationships play out on the world stage as they shape environmental quality, and even climate change. Making new "food friends" and letting go of old ones, as a society, can dramatically impact these issues.
These images symbolize both the abundance and the threat that humanity has brought to the dinner table. I feature resilient, edible seeds and grains like millet and sunflower, which offer significant minerals and nutrients and can be a great source of plant protein. Reducing meat consumption in favor of these plant sources would have a huge impact on reducing greenhouse gasses. Staple crops like wheat, rice and soy are all threatened by human-caused climate change. Yields and nutrient values of these and other foods are decreasing, putting extra strain on developing regions. Regenerative agriculture and carbon farming offer an alternative strategy. Rebuilding soil is one of the most powerful ways to capture carbon, and earthworms are heroes in this process. Azolla, the high-protein, fast-growing floating fern which is credited with removing half of the planet's excess CO2 50 million years ago, symbolizes the power of plants to heal the planet.
Images were made with a scanning electron microscope; they feature natural objects that are often smaller than a pinhead. DSLR macro photography completes the photomontages, to allow a surreal conversation between natural objects, and minute details of themselves. They are inspired by nature, and the artistic visions of Uelsmann, Blossfeldt, and Chris Jordan. Images are best seen at 30” x 30”.
One of the key threats of climate change is the reduction of yields for staple crops in most regions worldwide. At the same time, nutrient contents of food crops will decrease while carbohydrate contents will increase. This will have particularly harsh impacts in the developing world.
50 million years ago, Azolla grew in such huge quantities that it is credited with removing half of the excess carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. This fast-growing, high-protein plant is being used for livestock feed, and possibly, for human consumption as well.
The decline of bees worldwide is well-documented, as is the threat to crops that rely on them for pollination. Little known is that natural fungal/mycelial extracts are being developed which boost bee immunity.
Three grains of "topsoil" versus three "grains" of compost at 90x – compost creates a sponge in soil, collecting water, air, and room for roots to spread. This is the foundation of a carbon-rich soil, which is the base of a cooler planet.
The addition of biochar to soils, if done correctly, greatly increases the capacity of soils to hold water, nutrients and carbon. Use of biochar can be a "carbon negative" process. The central biochar in this image is the size of a pinhead, and the crystalline, porous surface hints at its sponge-like qualities.