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Scientists and philosophers alike have long been fascinated by the ways in which similar patterns are replicated throughout life forms — from the cellular microcosmic level to the zoomed-out macrocosmic view of the cosmos.

Covering everything from the sub-atomic to the very edges of the universe, Offset’s Science Photo Library showcases a remarkable cross-section of life, offering a unique way to see form. The agency works with hospitals, research institutes, photographers, and illustrators around the world, building a dynamic collection that showcases “the wonder of our bodies, their innermost workings, their frailties, and how we care for them,” says Science Photo Library’s managing director, Giancarlo Zuccotto.

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Light micrograph of a section through a grape stem by Steve Gschmeissner/Science Photo Library

But obtaining these striking images isn’t easy. It takes a keen understanding of technique — “good lighting and composition in clinical work; mastery of sample preparation and technique in microscopy” — and a “knowledge of what you are looking at,” says Zuccotto. “Understanding the anatomy, physiology, or microbiology being shown is essential to the accuracy of the image.”

In addition to employing varying photo-based techniques like x-ray, light micrograph, and satellite imagery to capture the subject matter, Zuccotto says contributors to their agency must also gain coveted access to the subject. “That may mean consented access to patients for clinical photography or allowed access to tissue samples for microscopy. It isn’t always as easy as it may sound.”

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Terra satellite image of Bombetoka Bay, Madagascar; taken with an Aster instrument by Nasa/Science Photo Library
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Magnification view of lung tissue under a color transmission electron micrograph by Steve Gschmeissner/Science Photo Library

We’ve gathered a selection of Science Photo Library’s work for a visual adventure into the very interconnected fabric of life.

Scroll through to explore the macro and microcosms, illuminating patterns just beneath the skin and just beyond our line of sight. Then see an even deeper exploration of the human body in our curated “Cellular” collection.

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Light micrograph of a section through a wart (verruca vulgaris) by Steve Gschmeissner/Science Photo Library
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Light micrograph of a section through the midrib of a tea (Camellia sinensis) leaf by Steve Gschmeissner/Science Photo Library
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Developing tooth under a light micrograph by Steve Gschmeissner/Science Photo Library
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Light micrograph of a section through a lime tree (Tilia sp.) stem by Steve Gschmeissner/Science Photo Library
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Terra Satellite image of Eastern Himalayas. North is at top. Snow is white, vegetation is red, barren areas are light blue and water is dark blue by Nasa/Science Photo Library
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X-ray showing the blood vessels in a lung by Science Photo Library
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Light micrograph of a section through a lime tree (Tilia sp.) stem by Steve Gschmeissner/Science Photo Library
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Light micrograph of a section through the gall bladder showing the folds of tall columnar epithelium (yellow) overlying a connective tissue (light pink) and muscle (dark pink) by Steve Gschmeissner/Science Photo Library
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Light micrograph of a transverse section through the sciatic nerve showing a bundle of nerve fibers (fascicle, round) Pasieka/Science Photo Library
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Light micrograph of a section through the choroid plexus of brain, showing two corpora amylacea (purple, bottom) by Steve Gschmeissner/Science Photo Library


Want more? View the entire “Cellular” collection here »

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Offset artists are visual storytellers with a deep passion for their craft. Images in the Offset collection are gathered from world-class and award-winning assignment photographers, illustrators, and agencies, with a focus on unique content with narrative, authentic, and sophisticated qualities.

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