People spend hours each day starting at computers and smartphones, but rarely see the minuscule circuits that make them work. But if you take a close look at a microprocessor, you’ll see something amazing. “It looks like a three-dimensional skyline,” says Christoph Morlinghaus. “You can get totally lost in it.”

Morlinghaus discovered this three years ago while photographing motherboards for Cisco. The boards so fascinated him that he kept them for an extra week, shooting the closeups that became his series Motherboard. He returned to the idea last year, obtaining microprocessors from online forums and shooting them at his studio in Miami.

Sinar P2 8×10 camera with bellowsSinar P2 8×10 camera with bellowsChristoph Morlinghaus

Photographing something no larger than a grain of rice isn’t easy. Morlinghaus used a Sinar P2 8×10 camera with a seven-foot bellows and a 50mm f2.8 lens. He illuminated each processor with a pair of 12-inch closet lights, but still had to make three-minute exposures. This meant shooting several frames, because the slightest disturbance would blur the image. “Every time there was a truck driving by the studio, or someone in the building turned on AC, I’d have to do the entire thing again,” he says. Making each of the seven photos in the series took about a week, including scanning the negatives and painstakingly removing dust.

The images in Computerwelt are rich in detail, each component sharply defined. It does look like you’re gazing down on a city, the buildings casting shadows on the streets below them. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the technology you take for granted, even as you’re staring at it right now.

Continue reading:

Wild Close-Ups of Computer Chips Look Like Intricate Cities