First picture post - Solitary wasp stack

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lauriek
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First picture post - Solitary wasp stack

Post by lauriek »

This is some sort of solitary "digger" wasp (possibly ectemnius?) I found making holes in my garden (there were quite a few of them so I didn't feel too bad sacrificing one for my stacking practice!)

Image

I originally shot around 20 shots in the stack but did not use all of them in the final output. In the originals and the final stack there was some distraction in the background behind the lower part of the wasp which I cloned out after stacking, that's probably the bit I'm least happy about.

Shot with Olympus E1 + OM Auto Bellows + reversed OM 50/1.8 lens, on a tripod, with the subject fixed in a micro-manipulator on a separate table.

I use the Olympus twin-flash for lighting, currently mounted to the front of the bellows with Blue-tac - I'd like to rig something up so the flash heads stay statically positioned compared to the subject but haven't quite worked that part out yet!!

I only use the OM bellows for moving the camera, and move it in the smallest increments I can manage, I don't know the size of the movement between slices. I generally shoot this lens around f5.6.

I'd love to get one of those focus blocks that Charlie uses, from an Olympus microscope, does anyone know where you can get one of these (without spending hundred on the microscope itself)? ;)

beetleman
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Post by beetleman »

WOW, That is an excellent first post lauriek. I love those eyes :shock: Welcome to the forums. I know you will be right at home here and I look forward to seeing more of your work.
Take Nothing but Pictures--Leave Nothing but Footprints.
Doug Breda

Ken Ramos
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Post by Ken Ramos »

Indeed an excellent first post lauriek :smt023 and welcome aboard. I am sure Charlie could probably steer you in the right direction for obtaining a focusing block. :wink:

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

And this is from the person who said they were scared of posting?! :? :D

Nicely done, Laurie!

Is the background a white card, or some active lighting?

--Rik

lauriek
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Post by lauriek »

Thanks for the kind words guys! I look forward to having more worthwhile shots to post... :)

Rik, I do have about 4 stacks including this one that I'm quite happy with, but that's from about 100 attempts!! (since last autumn when I finally got a bellows), it's the frequency that some of you guys post great shots at that scares me (and the magnification, this guy is pretty small but he's a giant compared to some of the stuff I've seen on here!). Funnily enough 3 of the 4 stacks I am happy with were of this same bug...

My biggest problem so far is that I struggle to get the bugs into a nice pose most of the time. I spotted on here Charlie's method using brass wire and epoxy and I intend to give this a go but have no epoxy at the moment. Or brass wire! Doh!

Yep there was white card close behind the bug for this shot. I did have to adjust the curves/levels a little on the final image to get the background true white.

ETA incidentally I currently use Combine ZM for the stacking. Do you think Helicon has any serious advantages over the freebie?

microcollector
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Post by microcollector »

Laurie,

I use both Combind ZM and Helicon Focus. I do mineral photography using a Meiji EMZ-5TR microscope. As the stacks can be rather large, I find myself using Helicon Focus most of the time as it has a faster processing time. I do find that some stacks work better using Combine ZM.

Stralhen.org, a mineral collecting site, has a forum with a photography section. One of the topics there is on Combine Z and has many good photos and discussions on using Combine Z. If you look at it, also look at the Hall of Fame for some great photos most of which are stacked.

There is a Yahoo Group specificly for Combine Z. It was started by the programmer of the program. One word of caution, if you join the group establish a Yahoo mail account and use that as the pubic address on the site. That way your regular e-mail account won't get flooded with spam.

Doug
micro minerals - the the unseen beauty of the mineral kingdom
Canon T5i with Canon 70 - 200 mm f4L zoom as tube lens set at 200mm, StacK Shot rail, and Mitutoyo 5X or 10X M plan apo objectives.

My Mindat Mineral Photos
http://www.mindat.org/user-362.html#2

Cyclops
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Post by Cyclops »

Fantastic shot Laurie,very sharp!
Canon 30D | Canon IXUS 265HS | Cosina 100mm f3.5 macro | EF 75-300 f4.5-5.6 USM III | EF 50 f1.8 II | Slik 88 tripod | Apex Practicioner monocular microscope

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

lauriek wrote:frequency ... post great shots ... magnification
It gets easier with practice as you hone your setup and procedures and accumulate holding jigs etc. But it still takes quite a bit of time, for me at least. A lot more gets done during vacations and holidays. :wink:
lauriek wrote:brass wire ... epoxy
Specimen prep and posing is always a big part of the problem. There are lots of different techniques and you just have to play around and see what works when, for you. Charlie's brass and epoxy approach seems ideal for working in the constrained space of a microscope frame. Open setups allow more options. My rig includes a ballhead and an assortment of balsa-covered mounting plates that screw onto it. Often I end up super-gluing a subject to the end of a rigid pin, or photographing a subject that was already pinned. The position of the pin establishes a large set of angles from which I can possibly shoot, while ruling out a few in which the pin would be a problem. Then I do coarse positioning by choosing which angle to stick the pin into the balsa, and fine positioning by rocking the ballhead. That's how the pedipalp got done.

My experience with CombineZM and Helicon Focus is the same as microcollector's.

Glad to have you aboard, and I'm looking forward to more great photos. :D

--Rik

puzzledpaul
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Post by puzzledpaul »

<< love to get one of those focus blocks that Charlie uses >>

Doubt that it's of any interest / use - but the fine focus block on a Lomo scope seems to have individual knob divisions of 2 microns.

Whilst it's obviously not so tasty a bit of kit as the Oly (only about 2.5mm travel) it'd prob. be ok for moving the subject around?

Other side of the coin (literally?) is that of cost ... I bought an incomplete 'scope (but all the mechanics) for about £12 from a local (3 ml away) Ebay seller last yr - he was so horrified when I told him about a possible fate for this, he gave me something similar (which was of no use to him) ... which I might use instead of a std. focus rail.

Btw - welcome - and excellent start :)

pp

lauriek
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Post by lauriek »

Thanks again to all for the kind words and tips!

Paul, I already have the subject rigged up in an XYZ stand (an old but functional Prior micromanipulator), but I find it difficult to line up the camera/subject axis so that I can move the subject directly towards the camera for the slice moving.

This is a real shame as the manipulator has an extremely find adjustment in one of it's axis... (ten entire rotations of one control knob moves the z axis about 1-1.5mm!!)

Do any 'subject movers' have any tips on how to line up the axis of movement of the subject stand with the camera lens in both x&z directions?

Tony T
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Post by Tony T »

I mount everything on a Really Right Stuff Camera Bar.
WEB PAGE HERE

The subject can then be moved toward the camera in a straight line:
my set-up HERE

cactuspic
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Post by cactuspic »

Great stack. With stacking, you do find your comfort zone. I do a lot of plant photography particularly cacti and succulents.. For stacks of at magnifications of 10:1 or less I get very good results using a bellows. Not all bellows are equal however. A bellows unit with a double set of tracks allows you to advance in straight line. At higher magnifications, I have no doubt that the bellows movements would be too crude. At lesser magnifications it works beautifully, with practice.

Keep it up. I look forward to seeing more of your work.

Irwin

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

lauriek wrote:Do any 'subject movers' have any tips on how to line up the axis of movement of the subject stand with the camera lens in both x&z directions?
Laurie,

There's a similar problem with camera-moving, if you don't get the camera pointed straight along the axis. I solve that by carefully aligning it once and then bolting things down. With my gear it's not too difficult to get the alignment correct because the slide table has long straight edges that are easy to butt an ordinary square against.

But I presume your gear is different, and I don't have a good concept of what the difficulties might be. Can you post a picture or two of your setup over in Macro and Micro Technique?

--Rik

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