These microscopic photographs reveal the hidden beauty of tears

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Artist Maurice Mikkers is using his scientific background to turn the ordinary into something beautiful.

After qualifying as a Medical Laboratory Analyst, he still needed an outlet for his creative side, and went on to do a degree at the Hague's Royal Art Academy.

Working as a photographer, Mikkers started using his dual background to experiment with micrograph images, creating using microscopes.

He started looking at samples of everyday objects under lenses - and after making himself cry while cutting onions one day, had the idea to start looking at tears in a series called 'The Imaginarium of Tears':

Mikker's first tear slide, harvested from a tear of pain

There are three types of tears: basal (on the surface of your eye), reflex and emotional. Mikkers asked his friends to volunteer to cry for various reasons, and used micropipettes and slides to let the tear crystallise into salt patterns that look like snowflakes.

Reflex tear: This tear is harvested after cutting white onions.

Mikkers wanted to find out if different types of tears formed differently, he told indy100.

Reflex tear

While he found no difference in the tears of a friend whose father was very ill, and those who ate peppers or stubbed their toes, every single one was different because of the oils, enzymes and antibodies unique to the composition of each tear:

Reflex tear

There has been worldwide interest in Mikkers' series since it was published last year. Speaking to indy100, the artist said:

Tear from eating peppers

[The attention] is still hard to believe, but it gives me a lot of energy and new ideas to continue on this beautiful and interesting journey.

Tear from looking into a fan for a few minutes

Mikkers is hoping to publish a book collecting the photographs by the end of the year - but in the meantime, check out his TED talk below and his website here.

All images: Maurice Mikkers

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