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I started the "My trilobite of the week" thread in the Members Collections section as a way of getting myself to actually start photographing my fossils for the web site I am creating. I have many different types of fossils, but I only collect fossils from before the dinosaurs so that means lots of Paleozoic fossils and most of the ones I have are trilobites. As you would expect for a project like this I have been learning as I have been going along. I got my photography equipment for the specific purpose of photographing my fossils, so I have a different set of lenses than I'd have if I was doing photojournalism or wildlife photography. Most of my fossils are small, and nothing is bigger than a couple of feet long. The hardware: Canon EOS 5D Mark III camera. Canon 24-70 mm zoom lens. This is my most "ordinary" lens and the one least used. For pictures of big fossils and of visiting humans. Canon 100 mm macro lens. This is the main workhorse. Most of the trilobites are photographed with this lens. Canon MP-E 65 mm magnifying macro lens. This has no focusing ring, but has a 1 - 5x magnification ring. For small stuff, like agnostid trilobites. Cognisys Stackshot focusing rail. This is a focusing rail driven by a stepping motor. There is a little control box so you can control it manually but the normal operation is to plug it into a computer with a USB connector and control it by software. A focusing rail is essential for the MP-E magnifying macro lens and useful for the other macro lens. Two flashpoint LED photography lights, 4000K color temperature. These are big square arrays of LEDs, I put one on each side of the specimen to keep shadows to a minimum. A tripod. The focusing rail is attached to the tripod and the camera is attached to the focusing rail. I needed a way to get straight on dorsal shots. If the trilobite is flat on a table this is hard to do, I'd need some fancy hardware to point the camera straight down. So I made a 45 degree table with a ledge on it. I lay the trilobite on the table and point the lens down at a 45 degree angle, and get a straight on shot. The table was actually made from Styrofoam board I got at Staples. It's light as a feather, and sturdy enough for trilobites but I wouldn't put a dinosaur femur on it. If you've ever done macro photography you know the depth of field is very small. If you want the entirety of a 3D trilobite to be in focus you have two options. The first is to use a small aperture, say 24 or higher.. This increases the depth of field at the cost of some resolution and of much less light coming into the camera. The latter issue may not be too much of a problem -- the fossil isn't going anywhere, so you can simply use a longer exposure. The second option is to use photo stacking, which is what I actually do. In this case a series of photographs are taken at different distances from the subject, and the "in focus" parts are combined by software into one picture. Of course each picture is taken from a slightly different perspective so part of what the software has to do is pick is single reference point and map the pixels from each photograph into that single perspective. So, the software I use is: Helicon Remote -- controls the camera and the focus rail. This has a USB connection to both the camera and the focusing rail. This is used to take a series of photographs at different distances from the subject. Helicon Focus -- combines a series of photographs taken with Helicon Remote into a single in-focus-everywhere photograph. GIMP -- the poor man's Photoshop. Ideally the photos will be done right enough that all I have to do is attach the metadata copyright, and crop and/or rotate the picture. Unfortunately sometimes this ideal isn't met. DarkTable -- I use this solely to convert raw files to TIFF files. The photos from the camera are stored as raw files, Helicon Focus can work with raw files. It converts them internally into TIFF files when it processes them. To be continued....
ynot posted a topic in Fossil PhotographyHey hi Y'All, I am wanting to do some photo stacking and would like some advice on the available programs for doing it. I use an Amscope microscope and the field of view changes when I refocus. This causes the stacked pictures I have tried to be very blurred after merging. (I only have the included programs that came with the microscope.) Can You tell Me what program (s) are the best for the stacking of micro pictures? How do I compensate for the change in the field of view? Thanks for any help. Tony
This is not a review but merely my personal experience with this camera. I borrowed this camera from a colleague and there are several things I like about it. It is tough. The specifications says It's shockproof from heights up to 2.1 metres, waterproof to 15-metre depths, freeze proof to -10°C and also able to withstand 100kg of crushing force. Nice with a camera you don't have to worry about when taking it with you out in the field looking for fossils. No more worries about the camera being crushed in the rucksack because you by mistake have placed a big fossil on top of it. I also like the ide that I can take pictures without first washing the dirty sediments on my hands. I simply wash the camera afterwards if it gets dirty. It is good for macro photos. The camera have several different macros settings fx when the camera setting is turned over to the symbol of a Microscope (Super Macro) it lets you get as close as 0.4-inches from your subject. Very good for taking photos of small fossils. My personal favourite is when the camera is turned over to the symbol of a ladybug. Here the camera have a build in photo stacking function. When pressing the shoot button in this mode, the camera takes a series of photos, at different focus distances and combines them to one sharp image with a greater depth of field (DOF) than any of the individual source images. Normally this is a time consuming process, that have to be done on a computer whit a program like Helicon Focus but here it is done in seconds in the camera. Here you can see the diference normal macophoto whit the build in fotostacking function