Mandibles and tongue of a paper wasp, Polistes dominulus

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rjlittlefield
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Mandibles and tongue of a paper wasp, Polistes dominulus

Post by rjlittlefield »

Image

These are the mouthparts of a paper wasp, Polistes dominulus. I have written about these wasps before. You can find the postings by searching for polistes AND dominulus.

To refresh your memories, these things are a European species that immigrated to the eastern US in the 1970's and reached my area in the Pacific Northwest perhaps 10 years ago. They're doing a pretty good job of shutting out the native species. As much as I dislike the concept of introduced invasives, these particular critters are really pretty nice. Their distinguishing feature is that they are remarkably docile.

This particular specimen came from an unfortunate incident a couple of days ago in which my neighbor started to dismantle a fence that housed a large nest of these things.

You can predict how this story is going to play out, of course.

But you'll be wrong.

In fact, the fellow brushed off a number of the wasps before he realized what was going on. Then he beat a hasty retreat, returned with a can of spray insecticide, and did his level best to soak everything in the vicinity, surrounded by a small cloud of buzzing wasps. A recipe for disaster, yes? And so it was...for the wasps. My neighbor received no stings at all, not a single one. I confess, I find this not only bizarre, but a bit saddening. It seems unfair, somehow.

Oh well, that's the way life is sometimes. At least I got an interesting specimen.

I'm always fascinated by the textures of these things. Besides, I needed to photograph something -- I've been spending way too much time at my computer lately!

--Rik

Technical: Canon 300D, Nikon CF N Plan Achro 10X NA 0.30 objective on 170 mm extension, 90 frames at 0.00033" focus step (8.5 microns), Zerene Stacker DMap plus minor retouching. Full frame height, cropped horizontally. Dual fiber halogen illuminator with pingpong ball diffuser, 0.3 seconds @ ISO 100.

Harold Gough
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Post by Harold Gough »

Lovely colours (if you include almost black) and textures.

Harold
My images are a medium for sharing some of my experiences: they are not me.

Graham46
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Post by Graham46 »

Great photo Rik-- Nice story to go along with it too. I havent used DMap in a long time, why did you feel it was the better choice for this subject? Did you use Pmax in your retouching or did you just retouch from individual frames? Glad you got to get back behind the camera

Graham
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Graham

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

Glad you like it, guys!

Graham, the short answer is that DMap is better for simple surfaces with clear textures, and that's what this subject has.

In general, DMap does a better job preserving tones and textures, and it doesn't build up noise or contrast. This subject has pretty simple geometry with not many hairs, bristles, or overlaps, so DMap handles most of the area just fine.

I ran a PMax first as usual, then did some pixel-peeping and saw some stuff I thought could be improved. So then I ran a DMap, decided that was a better starting point, and retouched a few places from the PMax where that was better.

There were also a few bristles that were not captured well by either PMax or DMap, so I tried to get those bits from original frames. Quite frankly, that was a waste of time. The bristles were so indistinct even in the original frames that the overall process felt more like painting than cloning. I gave up after doing a couple of bristles.

It's amusing to note that this is one of the few stacked photos where I've gone to extra effort to make something blurred. That bit of palp to the left of the tongue was sticking forward just enough that its tip made a little island of in-focus detail. Very distracting. I would have had to make the stack a lot deeper to get the whole thing focused, and I think it would have been confusing anyway, so I went with the shorter stack and artificially blurred out the troublesome palp with a gaussian blur filter in Photoshop.

--Rik

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