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Zebra spider (Salticus scenicus)

 
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Matthias



Joined: 08 Jun 2011
Posts: 33
Location: Germany

PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 7:40 am    Post subject: Zebra spider (Salticus scenicus) Reply with quote

Hello everyone,

this is my first image post in this forum.

Found this small jumping spider (about 4mm) on a sunny day on the wall of our house.





Taken with Canon 5D I, Nikon CF N Plan 10 on bellows, 2 flashlights; stacked with Zerene PMax (128 images)


Does anyone know how to prevent the lens-reflections on the eyes? Well, it may look funny but it's not reality at all ...

By the way: I want to thank you for all the knowledge and the good advice that I have gained from this forum!

Comments and critics are welcome

Thanks, Matthias
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Chris S.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:46 am    Post subject: Re: Zebra spider (Salticus scenicus) Reply with quote

Nice image, Matthias. Great way to begin!

Matthias wrote:
Does anyone know how to prevent the lens-reflections on the eyes? Well, it may look funny but it's not reality at all ...

While I have not photographed a salticid, here is what I'd do with general subjects. Those reflections occur when light from your flashlights hits the objective lens and bounces into the subject's eyes. So the main fix is to block as much as possible of that portion of your light. A shade or flag between the lights and the lens would be my first step. I usually use black construction paper for this, often keeping a paper tube loosely on the objective, so that the tube can be can be moved forward or pulled backward. I also may tape black paper between the light and the lens.

If that isn't enough, I'd consider making a small circle or cone of flocking material such as Protostar or black felt, and cutting a hole in the center of it just big enough to shoot through. That circle or cone would, of course, be placed on the front of the lens.

I don't know where your flashlights were placed for this stack, but you might need to change their placement or direction a bit to reduce the light falling on the objective.

If these approaches don't get you all the way there, a more involved, though not difficult, approach is to cross polarize (put polarizing film on your flashlights, and a polarizing filter behind your objective, in such a way that certain kinds of reflections are reduced or eliminated). If you end up on this path, you might want to PM me, as I've made an adapter for lenses like your N plan, and can look up the part numbers I used. Might save you a bit of homework.

By the way, your 10x N plan is one of my favorite lenses. I did add a bit of flocking material in the back of it, where the lens is open and hollow. Shining a light through the lens and eyeballing it, I'd seen light bouncing off the inside of this open tube. I can't say if this made a difference in actual photography--it's part of my standard operating procedure to reduce internal reflections whenever I find them. (This, of course has nothing to do with the reflections in your salticid's eyes--it's more about maintaing maximum contrast).

Cheers,

--Chris
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Matthias, welcome aboard!

There are not many options for dealing with the reflections.

First, you can switch to using a smaller diffuser that does not wrap around the subject, so that you do not get that distinctive and misleading "pupil" effect. This is the most practical approach.

Second, you can explore using cross-polarization to kill all reflections. (See HERE for theory, and follow the links near the end of the thread to earlier articles that describe various setups.) But at this scale cross-polarization is not easy, and even when you are successful, the result ends up looking odd (more about this later).

Third, with some subjects (but probably not this spider), it's possible to stack very carefully so that the composite result shows only the surface of the eyes, not the reflections that appear to be "behind" the eye. See "Surface of Dragonfly Eye" for example. Again, the result ends up looking odd.

The reason that killing reflections produces an odd appearance is that reflections are what produce the appearance of "shiny". Kill the reflections and the surface then appears matte or disappears entirely so that you see only internal structures.

For this reason I think you would be most satisfied by changing the shape of your diffuser to make the reflections more pleasing, though still obvious.

If you browse through the Nature gallery, you will find many shots of jumping spiders shot with various types of diffusers. Pick a style that you like and try to reproduce it with your stacking setup.

I see that Chris S. and I have been typing at the same time. Reviewing his comments, I worry there is too much emphasis on reflections from the objective ("light from your flashlights hits the objective lens and bounces into the subject's eyes"). The innermost thin rings probably are reflections of the objective, but I believe the broad outer ring is a reflection of light coming straight from a diffuser that is wrapped around the subject. If this is correct, then masking to keep light away from the objective will eliminate only the inner thin rings, not the broad outer ring that I think is bothering you. Switching to a diffuser more like what's used for nature photography will also reduce reflections from the objective, since typically such a diffuser will be in back of your objective lens rather than in front of it.

--Rik
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canonian



Joined: 31 Aug 2010
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Matthias, I'm working on the same specimen and I see you struggle with the same questions, I also wonder if there's something one can do about the reflection in the eyes, and how to avoid the bleaching out of the white hairs around the eyes and the 'whiskers'. These spiders allways look like there are CD's in their eyes. Here's mine. There's so much fixed and still has to be fixed in photoshop I didn't dare to post it here.I even once tried to edit the eyes into a nice gradient but it came out totally wrong, odd and unnatural looking.

EDIT:Typo's
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Last edited by canonian on Fri Jun 10, 2011 3:53 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Chris S.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 12:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rjlittlefield wrote:
The innermost thin rings probably are reflections of the objective, but I believe the broad outer ring is a reflection of light coming straight from a diffuser that is wrapped around the subject. If this is correct, then masking to keep light away from the objective will eliminate only the inner thin rings, not the broad outer ring that I think is bothering you.

Before typing my earlier post, I pulled out one of my own copies of Matthias’ 10x N Plan, looked at it from a spider’s perspective, and saw what looked to me very much like the reflections Matthias is getting. Rik very likely did this too, but if so, we came away with different impressions. Mine was that the broad outer ring in the reflection looks like a particular angled ring that goes around the glass portion of the objective. But it certainly could be the diffuser that is causing this. Luckily, the question is easily testable. I’d put a small piece of black tape or black paper on a portion of the angled ring, then take a picture. Does the black bit show up in the broad reflection? If so, the angled ring is the culprit; if not, it’s likely the diffuser. And perhaps both are at fault.

Rik makes an excellent point that, unless one completely removes all reflection, a shiny, bulbous surface is going to have a reflection somewhere, no matter what, and part of our job is to make sure that this reflection is pleasing.


rjlittlefield wrote:
But at this scale cross-polarization is not easy, and even when you are successful, the result ends up looking odd. . . (snip)

The reason that killing reflections produces an odd appearance is that reflections are what produce the appearance of "shiny". Kill the reflections and the surface then appears matte or disappears entirely so that you see only internal structures.

With most subjects, a total lack of reflection does look odd, flat, and uninteresting. But I think of cross polarization as a dimmer switch for reflections, not an on/off switch. By turning one of the filters, the photographer can adjust the amount of reflection allowed to remain, rather than eliminate it completely. I usually like to keep enough reflection to show the surface of a subject, but remove enough reflection to help show internal structure and color.

If salticid eyes were my subject of interest, I’d be tempted to try on-axis illumination to get rid of the dark spot where the lens is, along with x-pol to adjust the reflection. (Not suggesting this would be easy to set up, but as I think about it, I might have the bits and pieces in the basement give it a try sooner or later.)


canonian wrote:
how to avoid the bleaching out of the white hairs around the eyes and the 'whiskers'.

Fred, I would guess those white hairs are overexposed during image capture. Do your invidual frames suggest otherwise? Assuming overexposure, how much do you lose at the dark end if you dial back your exposure enough to keep from overexposing the white hairs? you’ll likely lose some darker portions of the image, but people tend to tolerate lost dark places more than lost light places. If you shoot in raw, you can increase the range between dark and light that you can capture (that is, “use more of the dynamic range your sensor is capable of delivering”).

--Chris
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris S. wrote:
Before typing my earlier post, I pulled out one of my own copies of Matthias’ 10x N Plan, looked at it from a spider’s perspective, and saw what looked to me very much like the reflections Matthias is getting. Rik very likely did this too, but if so, we came away with different impressions. Mine was that the broad outer ring in the reflection looks like a particular angled ring that goes around the glass portion of the objective.

Different impressions indeed. The profile of my 10X N Plan has something like 7 distinct faces that would show up as definite rings, and the widest of them would produce a reflection nowhere as wide as what appears in Matthias's picture. Based on experience shooting salticids, the reflection in the picture looks very much like half a pingpong ball or perhaps a wraparound cylinder or cone. I notice that there's an obvious radial black bar at the bottom of the reflection. Identify that black bar in the setup, and the source of the reflection will be nailed. (I'm betting on a gap in the diffuser, but I'll be interested to hear in any case.)

Quote:
But I think of cross polarization as a dimmer switch for reflections, not an on/off switch. By turning one of the filters, the photographer can adjust the amount of reflection allowed to remain, rather than eliminate it completely. I usually like to keep enough reflection to show the surface of a subject, but remove enough reflection to help show internal structure and color.

In general I agree completely. In this particular case, I understand the problem to be the big round pupil-shaped ring. No matter how much that gets dimmed, if it's visible at all it will still look like a big round pupil-shaped ring. So I spoke in terms of getting rid of it completely.

Quote:
If salticid eyes were my subject of interest, I’d be tempted to try on-axis illumination to get rid of the dark spot where the lens is, along with x-pol to adjust the reflection. (Not suggesting this would be easy to set up, but as I think about it, I might have the bits and pieces in the basement give it a try sooner or later.)

As a starting point, see http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10354. There are much longer discussions, but I don't have the links handy.

For some outstanding shots showing structure of salticid eyes, see also Walter Piorkowski's work HERE.

--Rik
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 4:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

canonian wrote:
These spiders always look like there are CD's in their eyes.

Well, they do when shot head-on with wraparound diffusers. Charles Krebs' avatar is the result of an early experience in trying to use this style of illumination, which had worked very well for other subjects. He talks about it somewhere in the forum archives, but I could not quickly find the post.

--Rik
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Chris S.
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PostPosted: Fri Jun 10, 2011 6:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rjlittlefield wrote:
As a starting point, see http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10354. There are much longer discussions, but I don't have the links handy.

Thanks for this link, Rik--missed that thread. When possible, I much enjoy reading every post--but when traveling or violently beset with work, it's easy to miss important discussions. I try to catch up later, but things too often slip through the cracks. The thread you reference erases a mental question mark I had from seeing some of Charlie's images in the galleries over--what?--the past year or so. Some of these images looked to me as if on-axis lighting had been used, and if so, I wondered why Charlie hadn't provided his typical clear and thorough documentation of the technique. Turns out he did. Anyway, axial lighting is something the Bratcam ought to have in its bag of tricks.


rjlittlefield wrote:
For some outstanding shots showing structure of salticid eyes, see also Walter Piorkowski's work HERE.

I well remember that post of Walter's, as in it he presented some of the most entrancing macro images I've ever seen.

For the wide reflections in Matthias' image, I'll bet you're right. When a photographer has worked with a subject, a keen sense of it often develops. You've shot salticids; I haven't. In fact, the majority of my macro subjects don't have eyes at all. Like you, I noticed the dark line on the bottom of the broad reflection, and wondered what it was. I suspected a pin holding the subject or diffuser, but a gap in the diffuser makes more sense. Regardless, if Matthias tames just one factor--either the reflections of his lights/diffusers, or the mirror image of his objective--he's not likely to be happy with the results. It's likely that both need to be controlled.

--Chris
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canonian



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 1:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Chris wrote:
Fred, I would guess those white hairs are overexposed during image capture. Do your invidual frames suggest otherwise?


Chris, I can show you all the individual frames here. (it took a while to render, upload and process, so my reaction on your thread is a little bit late)
In my view the images were not overexposed. But after stacking it created a white glow, maybe the result of the OOF white blur you can see in some of the frames.
As if the intensity of the white hairs get added up in the final result. Like Matthias I used a type of diffusion that covered the entire stage, in my case a styropor cup.
A hole in the bottom fitted the Nikon objective. I did try to PP the reflection out of the eyes but the results are alway unnatural looking.
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 9:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

canonian wrote:
In my view the images were not overexposed. But after stacking it created a white glow, maybe the result of the OOF white blur you can see in some of the frames.
As if the intensity of the white hairs get added up in the final result.

That's a very good description. What PMax has done is to superimpose the local contrast of the white hairs as seen when they are focused, onto the overall brightness of the surrounding region as seen at some other focus (probably a combination of focuses, actually). This behavior may sound a little crazy at first blush, but it's the reason that PMax can handle bristle mats etc. without creating loss-of-detail halos. Unfortunately, in cases like this where there are bright details against a dark background, the "overall brightness" that ends up getting used usually incorporates too much contribution from those white hairs seen OOF. This pushes the white hairs even whiter. Internally, the white hairs are often driven "whiter than white", not a happy situation. So to avoid producing a final output with blown whites, ZS applies a form of HDR internally before producing its final output image. This works well enough most of the time, but certainly a skilled user can do better by controlling the HDR process themselves. Rather than working with the usual PMax output, you may prefer to go into Options > Preferences > PMax settings and select the option to "Retain UDR Image". This gives you a second output in which the internal HDR processing has been skipped, giving you a better chance to do it externally. In this case you'll also want to save the output as 16-bit TIFF with "Retain full dynamic range" selected. See more about that HERE.


Quote:
I did try to PP the reflection out of the eyes but the results are alway unnatural looking.

Think of the eyes as being small mirror balls. They simply reflect the environment around them. If you want the reflection to be black except for a single compact highlight, then you need the environment to be black except for a single compact light source. The extreme setup is to have the lens looking through a hole in a black cloth.

Hope this helps...

--Rik
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Cyclops



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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 4:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brilliant shot-I love Salticids!
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lauriek
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PostPosted: Sat Jun 11, 2011 5:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Really nice! I think the worst thing with that reflection is the dark radial line at the bottom, I'm guessing that's a gap in the diffuser? Apart from that I don't think they're unattractive!

What you can do to reduce the dark circles which are from the front of the objective is to use the Zerene retouch facility to touch in _slightly_ oof versions of that particular bit.
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Matthias



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 3:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow, thanks a lot for this interesting discussion.

First of all, yes, there was a gap in the diffuser which obviously caused the radial black bar at the bottom of the reflection. I did not notice these bars while shooting. My whole focus was to prevent the striking round reflections. I have not made ​​it. I tried many different positions of the flash devices and different diffusers.

I also taped black paper (with a little hole for the optics of course) directly on the lens. It was cut roughly ... This square cut was exactly on the reflected image ...

The next time I catch a jumping spider I'll try some of the advice by Rik and Chris ...

I've seen this link http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=10354 ... unfortunately I don't own a beam splitter, otherwise I would try that too.

@ Laurie: I really like this abstract picture http://www.laurieknight.net/gallery/view/262 ... are all of these round shapes on the eyes and bubbles lens reflections too? They don't disturb in this case, i think.

Chris wrote:
Quote:
Rik makes an excellent point that, unless one completely removes all reflection, a shiny, bulbous surface is going to have a reflection somewhere, no matter what, and part of our job is to make sure that this reflection is pleasing.

... may be that's the point.

Sorry for my english.

Matthias
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canonian



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PostPosted: Sun Jun 12, 2011 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nothing wrong with your English, Matthias

Chris wrote:
Quote:
Rik makes an excellent point that, unless one completely removes all reflection, a shiny, bulbous surface is going to have a reflection somewhere, no matter what, and part of our job is to make sure that this reflection is pleasing.

... may be that's the point.

I do not want to hijack your post or place images in it, so I forked it a bit to illustrate Chris' suggestion of leaving some of the reflection in the eyes to make it look natural.
It would be very interesting to try some of the methods advised in your post to minimize reflection of the lens, other than PP.
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