Streaming across your screen are blood cells donated by the videographer himself: Martin Kaae Kristiansen, a self-described “microscopy enthusiast” behind the My Microscopic World project.

Kristiansen, a former biomedical researcher, uses his personal microscope to document the tiniest examples of life wriggling around us. His YouTube, Twitter and Instagram accounts typically showcase individual organisms he collects from within about 30 miles of his home. They include creatures such as ticks, water fleas, and tardigrades—the eight-legged invertebrates that trundle around their impressive range of habitats like chubby, determined bears.

Depending on what he has caught, Kristiansen’s four-year-old daughter may or may not want a peek. “She sometimes likes to watch the animals on my phone while I am observing them,” he says, “especially if they are large enough so that she can spot them before they go under the microscope.”

For this video, Kristiansen visualized his own blood cells with a microscopy technique called dark-field illumination—which is why the cells appear goldenish on a black background rather than red on a white background. This method makes the cells look almost white, and it is created without having to artificially color—and kill—the sample. Each cell appears about 300 times larger than they are in real life. Because these microscopic disks are so dense that they crowd one another’s movements, Kristiansen diluted the blood by half with saltwater before hitting the record button on his iPhone. Though the ubiquitous phone cannot capture all that his microscope detects, it does an impressive job.

Science in Images