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jbswake

Microscope Picture Trials

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jbswake

Here are two pics of one of my many coleopteras from McAbee. Am working on improving lighting. My wife bought me a good quality microscope for Christmas. I ordered an eye piece adapter for my Sony@ camera. Problem is I have to use the camera in manual mode as the adapter does not match up with the electronic connections on the lens mount. If I use the camera flash I end up with light halos in the picture. Microscope comes with lights but they are not powerful enough to save an image on the memory card. I plan on investigating the hundreds of march flies I have and need to work the kinks out. Anyone have a suggestion as to what might work better?

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piranha

Hi John,

The forum shutterbugs will be along in short order to assist you with imaging solutions. Peter (Pleecan) will share many technical answers that will be useful if you are inclined toward the high-end applications. For me most of it is well over my head beyond an "Intelli-Mode" on my camera that accounts for ALL of my digital images. Post processing is absolutely essential along with good lighting and a solid tripod for best results. Even though your images lack a proper light source I was able to compensate in PP with Corel Paint Shop Pro. Less is more and in this case very acceptable results with just a few clicks of brightness and contrast added.

post-4301-0-01060700-1302733699_thumb.jpg

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jbswake

Hi John,

The forum shutterbugs will be along in short order to assist you with imaging solutions. Peter (Pleecan) will share many technical answers that will be useful if you are inclined toward the high-end applications. For me most of it is well over my head beyond an "Intelli-Mode" on my camera that accounts for ALL of my digital images. Post processing is absolutely essential along with good lighting and a solid tripod for best results. Even though your images lack a proper light source I was able to compensate in PP with Corel Paint Shop Pro. Less is more and in this case very acceptable results with just a few clicks of brightness and contrast added.

post-4301-0-01060700-1302733699_thumb.jpg

Thanks for the suggestion. I got some good results with Photoscape. It was a free download from the internet and works well. I never thought of post picture editing to improve the quality.

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palaeopix

So John,

Scott (piranha) is absolutely correct when he says a solid tripod (or copy stand) and good lighting are essential! There are various methods to provide light as I'm sure you're well aware, but probably the easiest method is to use a desk lamp (halogen, LED, CFL or plain old fashioned tungsten bulb)!

We really need to know your setup before we can give further pointers. Why not tell us what type of equipment (make and model) you're using and we'll see if we can't help out with your photos.

Dan

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jbswake

I have a Sony Alpha 350 with a MaxView Plus Photo EP w/30mm & C Mount, SLR/DSLR Spacer for T-Ring Maxxum/Alpha on a NSW 20T model microscope. It is a solid microscope that my wife managed to get for $325 instead of the $850 retail as it was being discontinued by the supplier. She knows I'm nuts for this stuff and likes to feed my bad habit.

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palaeopix

I have a Sony Alpha 350 with a MaxView Plus Photo EP w/30mm & C Mount, SLR/DSLR Spacer for T-Ring Maxxum/Alpha on a NSW 20T model microscope. It is a solid microscope that my wife managed to get for $325 instead of the $850 retail as it was being discontinued by the supplier. She knows I'm nuts for this stuff and likes to feed my bad habit.

Well it sounds like you have some pretty nice gear to play with! I think I would work on getting more light on your specimens and maybe turning your camera to Manual Mode or even Aperture Priority Mode. Either of these modes should give superior results. You'll have to choose the shutter speed in manual mode but the camera will choose the shutter speed in aperture priority mode! If you are setting the shutter speed manually, you'll want one that will give an adequate exposure. I'm not familiar with the Apha Cameras from Sony but they should have some sort of highlight warning (and histogram) to aid with proper exposure.

Don't be afraid to leave the shutter open longer! The longer the shutter stays open the more light reaches the camera's sensor! More light = Better Photos!!!

If you've got any questions feel free to contact me.

Dan

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pleecan

Hi John:

With regards to lighting I prefer a simple goose neck desk light that uses CFL bulbs cool white at 6000K. Camera settings... on my dslr I shoot in totally manual with very high F11 and beyond and very long exposure times approaching several seconds. On my point and shoot camera... I set it to aperture priority and set it to the highest F stop possible to increase depth of field of view.....Make sure you are on stable ground ie concrete floor is best to minimize vibrations. A remote cable release helps.....

I shoot images without a microscope and can resolve down to 3 microns... with photostacking techniques.... have fun with your new equipment.

PL

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jbswake

Thank you for the advice. As soon as I get through the honey-do list, I will set my equipment up and photograph a few flies. I will post some of my results as soon as I can.

John

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Acryzona

John,

I also use a threaded eyepiece which connects to a Nikon 4700 for photomicrography. I use an aperture priority setting and a fiber light system (from Ebay) so the shutter time isn't too slow where vibration is a problem. I also use a free frame stacking software (CombineZ) as ostracods and scolecodonts are 3D. Your flies look 2D so post processing may not be necessary if you experiment to get light and settings correct.

Looking forward to more fly pictures. Where did you find them (age, general area)?

Acryzona

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pleecan

When the equipment is mounted on a copy stand on a table with a concrete floor.... Actually the longer the exposure time , the less sensitivity to vibrations is my observations.... hence very high magnifications... my exposure times are several seconds in duration. The relationship between resolution and exposure time is non linear.

Edited by pleecan

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jbswake

John,

I also use a threaded eyepiece which connects to a Nikon 4700 for photomicrography. I use an aperture priority setting and a fiber light system (from Ebay) so the shutter time isn't too slow where vibration is a problem. I also use a free frame stacking software (CombineZ) as ostracods and scolecodonts are 3D. Your flies look 2D so post processing may not be necessary if you experiment to get light and settings correct.

Looking forward to more fly pictures. Where did you find them (age, general area)?

Acryzona

Nearly all my fossils come from Mcabee. It is a lacustrine shale deposit within an area known as the Ancient Okanagan Highlands. McAbee has been dated at 51MYBP. Driftwood Canyon is of equal age. Whereas Stonerose in Washington State is about 49MYBP. If you do a search for McAbee Fossil Beds you will find some interesting information including claims from someone that we are raping and pillaging the fossil heritage of BC.

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Axelorox

Those are certainly some very interesting and nice photographs. I've never seen beetles at such a close level before; when I first saw the second picture I thought that it looked like corn! You are certainly lucky to have such nice equipment.

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jbswake

Here is a recent pic of an ichneumon from our site. Thanks for the advice. After I change from my macro lens to my scope I am going to be posting a bunch more:

John

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pleecan

Hi John: I now shoot digital photos of fossils without a microscope. While? Because the optics of fixed focal length of 35mm film cameras, enlarging lenses M39 mounts are much superior to the optics found in the majority of consumer microscope with respect to chromatic aberrations, flatness field of view, lack of spherical aberrations and general resolving power. The trick is to increase the projection system between the camera lens and camera body via extension tubes/ bellows... the greater the projection distance, the greater the magnification. This is very old analogue film technology but it works extremely well.

PL

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jbswake

Here is a 51MYBP march fly from McAbee, BC, with a close up of one wing using my microscope. Scale on macro pic is in mm.

John

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pleecan

Nice pic John... you might want to increase the exposure time.... you might try shooting in manual if possible...

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jbswake

I am not sure about how to increase the exposure time. It's a @sony 350 dslr.

I noticed that when I increase the ISO levels I get better results. I have the camera connected a tube? and I can only shoot in mnaual mode when it is attached to the microscope. I also invested in a remote trigger so I don't move the camera when I press the button. I am still working on my lighting problems. I can not seem to find a light or consistent position for it to maintain the same effect. I can not use the light on the microscope itself as it makes the fossils less clear or shiny. I have started using the flash on the camera itself, but have built a guard for it so the light is not directly aimed at the fossil. I have seen an improvement with this process. However, I know I can get better results. All advice is gratefully accepted, however, you are dealing with a photograph newbie. I know my Mcabee fossils, but doing them justice to share is an on-going process.

John

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jbswake

This is my best vespidae from this year. I used the same process as with the previous pic.

John

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pleecan

Increase the ISO results in gritty coarse images.... I use the lowest ISO 50-200 depending on the camera.... My exposures can run +20sec but generally 6-12 sec is nominal. Experimentation is a fun way of learning to take pictures... good luck...

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jbswake

Thanks for all the advice. I have found that shutter lengths of more than 4 secs with the microscope do not produce what I want for the area I am working in. I also reduced my ISO level to 100 (it won't go any lower). I am going to play around some more and see if I can increase the quality more. I also adjusted white balance to reflect my lighting.

Will continue to update with my trials and tribulations.

I finally managed to find the manual and have now started playing around with the shutter speed etc.

Attached are pics of the front wing of a Dinokanaga hillsi. Since it is a large insect I had to take two pics to get the wing all in. This is as close as I can prep at present since I have changed my system a little and I have developed a shake in my prep hand. Hopefully it will go away soon. I will be posting two pics of the complete fossil in the tribute to Dave section:

John

Edited by jbswake

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Wrangellian

Hey John, I know you're still experimenting but if I were you I might try and get rid of that blurring around the edges before I worried about lighting, and some of the lighting problems can be fixed up Photoshop-style (I'm Using PhotoStudio 5.5 right now and it works wonders in some cases.) For the larger items like leaves I find my scanner plus the PhotoStudio enhancement works quite well, but with insects I'm not sure sure as I can only get down to 600dpi and the PhotoStudio Autoenhance exaggerates the contrast and I'm not the best at the manual settings - will have to try the camera with macro lens for these, when there's good light.

Here is my best Plecia done with scanner at 600dpi and autoenhanced, just for interest's sake - will try the camera later to see if I can get higher-res.

post-4372-0-87295400-1327560636_thumb.jpg

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pleecan

Scanner works great Eric.... Barry (Indy) also uses scanner to effectively capture images of fossils....

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jbswake

I used to use a scanner. At 800dpi I had great pictures. Everything before my 2008 pictures were done on the scanner. Unfortunately, that old $200 Agfa scanner (we're talking 2001 when I bought it), died on me. I have since bought or tried 5 others that are, shall we just say more modern, but do not deal with depth adequately enough. They seem to want to only focus on one layer, so any fossil that has been dug out and is at a different depth from the layer touching the scanner glass is not in focus. I have been very dissapointed with them for that reason. They all seem to be set up for photographs or single layer objects. When I have talked to computer people about the issue, they all just tell me that there is no scanner on the market today that will give you a range in depth, and they don't really believe me when I explain what my little old Agfa could do. Below is a scanner picture I took from my 2006 collection. Note that just about everything is in focus even though there are several different depths. Happy hunting for the insect bits.

On another note though, how do I work on alleviating the ring on the outside that is non focused? Do I just crop it out? As I can not seem to get rid of it. Has it got to do with the length of the tube of the adapter from my camera to microscope? My microscope does not have a 3rd eye piece that is perpendicular to the object. I attach my camera to my right eye lens, which is at that viewing angle. The microscope was worth $800, the adapter $200, and my camera $600 when I bought/received them at different times. I need to work with what I have got as my wife would not take kindly to more expense, even though she fully supports my fossil habit/addiction:

Thanks:

John

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pleecan

Hi John: I seldom use a microscope as I find that the lens are inferior to camera lens set up for macro work.... most of my imaging is without microscope and I can image down to 10 microns resolution and flat field.

PL

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