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Scorpions are easier to stack than spiders! :)

 
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papilio



Joined: 16 Jul 2013
Posts: 243
Location: St. Paul, MN

PostPosted: Fri Dec 20, 2013 7:23 pm    Post subject: Scorpions are easier to stack than spiders! :) Reply with quote

I've been struggling with all of the legs in front of legs and blurs in front of blurs for about the past month as I've been practicing my stacking technique on a tiny Steatoda triangulosa spider (http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?p=138515#138515 shows a couple of the very few which turned out fairly well). All-in-all, a never-ending exercise in frustration, but I need to learn all I can so I figured I'd stay in the deep end.

I decided to give myself a break however and run a few stacks of my 1-inch Rhopalurus junceus scorpion. The stacks just fell cleanly right into place, how nice!

The scorpion images strike me as inherently a bit less interesting than those of the spider perhaps, and compared to the work which I generally put into the spider stacks these were rather casual efforts, but for what they're worth ...



188 images


107 images


102 images


54 images


161 images

Blue channel image

209 images

These are all just straight-through PMax stacks, a look which seems to suit the scorpion just fine.

Shot with a Canon 6D and MP-E 65mm macro, various magnifications.
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ChrisR
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 8:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fascinating creatures we don't often see. Smile

I had one once while away. A local brought it to me in a shiny bowl it couldn't climb out of. But it was gone my morning Shocked .

I think a couple of the above well deserve some attention with the retouch brush here and there. I might dull down the OOF background of eg the second, too. A partial stack would help with that
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johan



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PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That bottom shot is very intimidating Smile
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conkar



Joined: 18 Dec 2010
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Location: Sweden

PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

As a big fan of old sci-fi movies, I agree with Johan that the last one might be a candidate for a hanger on the Wall. If it was my own picture I probably had brightened it up a little bit and give it a extra push with photoshop before printing.

Grats, to a very well done picture!

Regards,

Conny
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soldevilla



Joined: 16 Dec 2010
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Location: Barcelona, more or less

PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 1:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice pictures!

Curious how the gap between the clamp is defocused. Is better seen in the blue channel picture.
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TheLostVertex



Joined: 22 Sep 2011
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fantastic photos. The second one caught my eye especially.

I am curious about what your preprocessing to the photos is before you stack, specifically sharpening and noise reduction.I ask since you mention these are all Pmax and have a pretty large amount of frames. Pmax tends to look a bit more unforgiving with noise for me, even with noise reduction after. Perhaps I am sharpening the input frames a bit much before hand.

soldevilla wrote:
Nice pictures!

Curious how the gap between the clamp is defocused. Is better seen in the blue channel picture.


When the pincher is in focus the background will be out of focus. When the background is in focus, the pincher becomes out of focus, obscuring any detail that may be there. It seems to be made worse than normal because the gap between them is so tiny.
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papilio



Joined: 16 Jul 2013
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 3:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for all the replies! Smile

Quote:
I had one once while away. A local brought it to me in a shiny bowl it couldn't climb out of. But it was gone my morning.


Yikes! Not something I'd want loose in the house! I never keep anything with life-threatening venom, but I'd tend to be a bit more nervous about a scorpion roaming around than I'd be about any of my tarantulas.

Quote:
I think a couple of the above well deserve some attention with the retouch brush here and there. I might dull down the OOF background of eg the second, too. A partial stack would help with that.


Thanks Chris. Would I be correct in assuming that you're referring to the multiple images of the twitching bristles? If so then I must apologize for posting without making repairs which I should have ... as I mentioned I hadn't put a lot of effort into these. Wink Or are you seeing other elements which require attention as well? As I tend to work more with DMaps I probably don't have the experience for my eyes to catch much beyond those types of artifacts, and I suppose I have the tendency to let PMax stacks slide for the most part. I'd appreciate a mention of the sorts of things which I may not have noticed. I see what you mean about the harsh/bright OOF areas in some of these, perhaps a problem better dealt with in post before stacking ... I really should have brought the luminance down in those areas.

Any critiques of my images are always appreciated and encouraged, I've much to learn before I'm able to produce stacks with the clean and balanced properties which I see in the work of so many others. Very Happy

Quote:
That bottom shot is very intimidating.


Thanks johan! I was amused by the mood it portrayed, it's often quite interesting and surprising what effects the different color channels have on the image. Smile

Quote:
As a big fan of old sci-fi movies, I agree with Johan that the last one might be a candidate for a hanger on the Wall. If it was my own picture I probably had brightened it up a little bit and give it a extra push with photoshop before printing.

Grats, to a very well done picture!


Thank you Conny, I appreciate it! I found it amusing that you should mention a preference for a brighter and punchier image ... I actually took the opposite course with that one as I worked on it, my thinking was that it brought out a more brooding and ominous character to the image than the blue channel from the processed full-color initially had. Here it is before I did anything to it, is this more what you had in mind?



Quote:
Nice pictures!

Curious how the gap between the clamp is defocused. Is better seen in the blue channel picture.


Thanks very much soldevilla! Smile

I noticed that too, it took me by surprise as it's an effect I'd have expected with DMap but not with PMax. TheLostVertex has of course the correct answer, but I'm wondering whether a stack of PMax slabs would fare any better.

I'm working on that right now in fact, so check back in a bit ... but I may not have it finished immediately as I have the monthly tarantula club gathering/party to leave for in about an hour!

Quote:
Fantastic photos. The second one caught my eye especially.

I am curious about what your preprocessing to the photos is before you stack, specifically sharpening and noise reduction.I ask since you mention these are all Pmax and have a pretty large amount of frames. Pmax tends to look a bit more unforgiving with noise for me, even with noise reduction after. Perhaps I am sharpening the input frames a bit much before hand.


Thanks a lot Steven! I really like that one too. It's one of those which makes you think as the stack is being shot, "Wow, this could be a really great image ... Please don't move!!!" Very Happy

I've tried all various things in post before stacking and, especially when running a PMax stack, I found that applying about 3-4px of high-pass filtering plus noise reduction yielded strikingly better results. My own feeling is that pre-stack sharpening via USM or the like would probably not bring the same benefits.

Normally though all I do in post before converting to .tif is adjust exposure, tweak the histogram and drop the maximum luminance value to about 220 (trying to counter the tendency of PMax to create a relatively harsh look on high-contrast highlights).

I have all sharpening and de-noising turned off in-camera, as I'd prefer to deal with those later in my own way. I've currently switched to using a Canon (My Nikon D7000 was totaled by a mysteriously bent shutter and scratched sensor), but I'd always considered Nikon's noise reduction approach to be rather dreadful, whether in-camera or employed during post in Capture NX2. I've tried at least most of the well-known noise reduction apps, and still the method which I strongly prefer is the one which is a part of my editing software, PaintShop Pro. When applied properly it leaves a deliciously creamy background/bokeh while essentially leaving texture and detail intact. I prefer it to the method employed by PS as well.
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Sat Dec 21, 2013 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

TheLostVertex wrote:
soldevilla wrote:
Curious how the gap between the clamp is defocused.
It seems to be made worse than normal because the gap between them is so tiny.

Right, the fact that it's a gap should be critical. Background next to an ordinary edge is still seen by about half of the lens aperture, so its contrast remains pretty high. But background visible through a narrow gap may be seen by an arbitrarily small fraction of the lens aperture, causing its contrast to drop much farther. If its contrast drops far enough, then background detail will not be retained even by PMax, and I suspect that's what is happening here.

papilio wrote:
I'm wondering whether a stack of PMax slabs would fare any better.

I expect it won't make much difference. The basic method that underlies PMax gives results that are independent of order and grouping. The highlights will be handled a little differently with slabs, and there'll undoubtedly be some small effects due to rounding, but I expect that most of the image will come out the same.

--Rik
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papilio



Joined: 16 Jul 2013
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Location: St. Paul, MN

PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 1:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

As we would expect, Rik explained the 'gap' problem well.

As an example, here is a crop from the slab in which background detail should have become evident, but already here the blurs from the pincers has reduced the contrast significantly, effectively wiping out any detail which may have been expected to show through.



Here is the full-color stack of that image, previously shown only in blue-channel light. This time I stacked slabs using a hybrid PMax/DMap technique. As Rik indicated, the use of slabs did nothing to improve the detail obscuration in the pincer gap.



I also re-worked my favorite stack taking considerable time on it this time, including brushing out the twitching bristles from each slab. This is a significant instance in which slabs made retouching more effective, as retouching from the source images onto a full stack would have brought with it a halo of OOF areas from the source images -- as these were slabs most of these were recovered from other slabs. The overexposed highlights were also corrected during post, before stacking.


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ChrisR
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 23, 2013 1:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

A striking image. I'll try my local pet shop..

You asked what retouching I meant - yes mostly the twitchy bristles.
I know you said you like the Pmax result, but did you experiment with Dmap?
My expectation with a critter like this one would be to start with a Pmax output image, and then retouch much of it - except the bristles, with Dmap. The colors usually show nicer saturation, and it helps with highlights which can look over-bright with Pmax. Of course if you like the effect, that's fine!

For the background detail showing through the claw, a smaller aperture would help, but of course mean two+ stacks - ugh. As you have a live subject, it's easy to say now that you could have moved it off, then reshot the rock, so you'd have had an unobstructed view with detail which the stacker would have dropped into the void. I doubt I'd have thought of that at the time..

The other thing, the lower claw, 5th image, has that "glow" around it. Dmap might have made a bit of a mess (there was a recent thread about Darkening which might help) so in the past I've just plain cheated. You can get a uniform background color by pushing the Dmap sliders to the right some, then for a small area, draw round the detail you want, to keep it, then replace the local background with "plain". You can "clone" from "All Layers" with the method set to "Darken".

Feeling guilty here, that I'm giving suggestions when I don't post many images. Most end up on the cutting room floor. You're really doing superbly.
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papilio



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 11, 2014 5:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Chris, and thanks much! Apologies for the late reply, somehow I missed the notification on some recent posts.

I had mentioned that the PMax look seemed to suit the alien look of the scorpion -- actually my preference in general is strongly toward DMap when stacking tarantulas as I'm rather anal about getting the finest-looking setae that I can on them, but with extreme closeups of super-bristly tarantula spiderlings I end up retouching so much of the image that they end up being for all intents and purposes PMax images. Most importantly though I'm usually able to keep the DMap properties for the more accurate tones on the carapace and eye cluster.

It was this conundrum which led me to employ that darken-down cheat which I described -- not so much because it's less work but mostly because it tends to retain the tones/luminance values of the DMap image while most artifacts are suppressed more-or-less to my own satisfaction. The exception is of course when the artifact is darker than the true image, but in my applications those seem to be relatively less common.

Humorous and clever idea you had there of shoo-ing the subject off and then re-shooting the unobstructed background for re-touching!

I appreciate your advice too on that conspicuous glow around the tip of that pincer ... always quite happy to learn ZS's tricks like that!

I've spent all day and night stacking a tarantula sling's foot setae, and on chancing to come back here and seeing the above scorpion stacks I find it quite striking (and very frustrating) how very clean and, in rendering terminology, "convincing" these are compared to my usual work with hairy spiders.


I know that I've already posted these elsewhere on the forum, but here are a couple of my favorite scorp stacks to date, the second (with different lighting) being only the ~20 images around the eyes for a clean-looking wallpaper.


Rhopalurus junceus, 1-inch BL





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