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New Member Introducing Myself

 
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svalley



Joined: 03 Dec 2006
Posts: 288
Location: Albany, Oregon

PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 10:48 am    Post subject: New Member Introducing Myself Reply with quote

Hi, my name is Steve Valley. I was surfing the web recently looking for examples of extended depth of field imaging and I ran across Charles Krebs’ excellent images and that led me here. There is a lot of great information and incredible imagery in your various forums and galleries. Very well done! I have already learned a lot.

My own personal interests have primarily been studying and photographing dragonflies, which I spent most of my life on, beginning in the early ‘60s. My first camera setup was a Pentax SLR with a clip-on meter, a set of extension tubes and a very cheap manual 135mm lens. My photos were pretty pathetic. I eventually graduated to a Nikon F2 and then F3 with a variety of Micro-Nikkors. These days I shoot with an F5 and a D2x with a 70-180 Micro-Nikkor. A friend and I are currently working on a guide to the dragonflies and damselflies of the Pacific Northwest. We hope to have it finished next Fall.



I have been working for the Oregon Department of Agriculture as an insect imaging specialist for the past 2 years. We have a Leica MZ16 stereomicroscope fitted with an extended depth of field imaging system that uses ImagePro software to produce a composite from an image stack. Most of my subjects at ODA are wood boring insects. We use most of the images to produce screening aids that help non-taxonomists, who are sorting insect trap samples, identify their specimens to the species level.


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Steve Valley - Albany, Oregon
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Ken Ramos



Joined: 27 Jul 2006
Posts: 7076
Location: lat=35.4005&lon=-81.9841

PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well welcome aboard there Steve, you sure didn't waste anytime showing us the stuff and some great stuff it is too. I like the image of the beetle the best, dragonflies too. So, make yourself at home, pull up a chair and join in the craziness, there is a lot of it going on around here, I have been dabbling in pathogenic fungi for the past couple of days,so I may not be around long Laughing Any way glad to see you joined us and again welcome aboard! Very Happy
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rjlittlefield
Site Admin


Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 18915
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sat Dec 30, 2006 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve,

I'll second Ken's "Welcome aboard!" Very Happy

Several of us here are fans of stacking. The software that gets used is mostly Helicon Focus, some CombineZ5. I've tested both of those, as well as AutoMontage, but I've never had occasion to try Image Pro. Your example looks great! I'm really intrigued by the curled bristles on the beetle head (assuming that's what they really are!). What species is that?

About technique, I'd be interested to know how Image Pro compares with Helicon Focus on tough subjects. For example, does it give a lot less halo, or get less confused by deep subjects and wide apertures where the lens "looks around" foreground structures to see sharp detail at different depths at the same pixel position?

It's good to have you here -- I'm looking forward to seeing more!

--Rik
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DaveW



Joined: 04 Aug 2006
Posts: 1702
Location: Nottingham, UK

PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 10:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Great pictures Steve. I recently bought the 70-180 micro nikkor in order to get one before all are gone off dealers shelves because they have now been discontinued. I also have the 60mm 2.8 micro nikkor for my D200 and hope someday my pictures are as good as yours.

DaveW
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Mike B in OKlahoma



Joined: 04 Aug 2006
Posts: 1048
Location: Oklahoma City

PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome, Steve. Joining us here is a great way to start the New Year!

You have a job many of us would envy, and that second shot in particular is killer! Only problem with your photos is that I didn't see any snakes! (running gag with me....) Laughing
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Mike Broderick
Oklahoma City, OK, USA

Constructive critiques of my pictures, and reposts in this forum for purposes of critique are welcome

"I must obey the inscrutable exhortations of my soul....My mandate includes weird bugs."
--Calvin
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Charles Krebs



Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 5803
Location: Issaquah, WA USA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 5:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome aboard Steve.
There are people here who love dragonflies as well as a few dedicated "stackers", so you should feel right at home.
I look forward to seeing many more of your images!
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svalley



Joined: 03 Dec 2006
Posts: 288
Location: Albany, Oregon

PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 7:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the warm welcome and kind comments, Guys.

Ken, pathogenic fungi sounds interesting as long as it is not growing inside you. I had a fungal infection in a lung that I picked up in a Bolivian rainforest that took several years to get rid of.

I have an old B&L med student’s compound microscope and I am hoping to learn some lighting techniques, especially flash, from the equipment discussions.

Rik, The beetle is in Family Scolytidae (Bark Beetles), the species is Dendrosinus bourreriae Schwarz. Those curled bristles on the frons are completely unique to this species, but oddly enough the published keys use much more subtle characters to define it. Everyone in our lab has started calling them eyebrows.

I have read about Helicon Focus, CombineZ5 and AutoMontage but I have never used them. I am using version 5.0 of ImagePro along with a Z-stepper called In-Focus (which has a couple flaws in it). The sales rep told me the newest version of ImagePro (not released yet) has a built in z-stepper and new algorithms that improve the performance of extended depth compositing. I have the same problems you mention with halos, especially where there are many setae on“hairy” specimens that stick out against a dark background. Another problem is where, as you say, the lens “looks around” foreground structures and has trouble if the edge of not well defined tonally. I often save individual layers from the stack where ImagePro cannot decide what to do, and add to the composite, those areas that are sharp using layer masks in PhotoShop. One powerful feature of ImagePro is the ability to modify the gamma and sharpness of individual layers in the stack before you run the compositing routine. I also often shoot the same stack multiple times with different lighting and then blend the resulting composites together as layers in PhotoShop. This allows me to reveal features such as surface texture and shininess that may not be shown with one static lighting configuration. This technique can also help define 3-dimensional features that fool the eye (is it protruding or receding, a bump or a pit?). The camera I use is tethered directly to the computer via firewire, so I can fine-tune exposure and lighting affects before I shoot the stack.

The projects I worked on with Scolytids (Bark Beetles) were relatively straightforward. They are mostly very small, only a couple millimeters long, so I could shoot single stacks to show the whole insect or smaller features like the antennal club or spines on the elytral declivity, etc. The biggest problem often is cleaning the specimen without damaging it. Woodboring insects are usually covered with all kinds of fine particulate crud.

Larger insects present another problem. They are too large to fit into the field of view of the scope. This means that they have to be shot in overlapping sections and these sections have to be stitched together to create an image of the whole specimen. The best program I have found to stitch these “tiles” together is Photoshop because I can blend the edges seamlessly. I discovered that with our Leica imaging system, there is too much depth of field at low magnifications, despite always shooting with both internal apertures wide open. At magnifications less than 16x, the size of the specimen changes dramatically within the image frame of each layer in the stack, resulting in terrible fringing around every sharp edge in the composite. Recently I completed a project shooting Siricid Woodwasps, some of which are quite large (females with a 2-inch wingspan and an ovipositor longer than the body). The largest one took 44 separate tiles to stitch together and resulted in a 777Mb file. At 300 pixels per inch, the wingspan was 62 inches! We printed it as a poster 42 inches wide…scary! These images were used in a book A Guide to the Siricid Woodwasps of North America published by the USDA Forest Service, to be released in January.

Dave, the 70-180 micro-nikkor is my favorite lens. It is nice having a variable working distance, although I would really like to try out a Sigma 180 APO macro because it is probably sharper.

Mike, it has turned out to be my dream job. The trouble with snakes is that I cannot get them to hold still while I shoot a stack, not to mention the file size if I had to shoot tiles at 16x, LOL.

Charles, I already feel like I have found a home here. I am completely blown away by your images. You are a true artist!

I am sorry to be so long winded. When you get me started, you can’t shut me up.
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Steve Valley - Albany, Oregon
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rjlittlefield
Site Admin


Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 18915
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Sun Dec 31, 2006 8:12 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve,

Long-winded is good. At least that's my usual excuse. Laughing

Regarding your problems of stitching stacks, you might be interested in http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1032 .

Quote:
Each tile is a stack, 11.5 mm wide. The deepest stack is over 25 mm deep, and the total subject in-focus depth is 37 mm. To shoot the stacks, the camera was shifted laterally. But when I flash between stacks, there's no visible parallax. It's pretty cool.

--Rik
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DaveW



Joined: 04 Aug 2006
Posts: 1702
Location: Nottingham, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 4:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Steve,

"Dave, the 70-180 micro-nikkor is my favorite lens. It is nice having a variable working distance, although I would really like to try out a Sigma 180 APO macro because it is probably sharper."

There is always the 200mm micro nikkor which can often be picked up secondhand on EBAY. There are some links here to reviews of both Nikon micro and Sigma macro lenses. I can't find many reviews for the 200mm micro nikkor though. As the 70-180 has been discontinued and a 105mm VR USM motored micro nikkor introduced, I wonder if new 200mm and 60mm micro nikkors with VR and USM motors are in the pipeline? (though VR is no use really close up, or autofocus come to that):-

http://www.fredmiranda.com/reviews/showproduct.php?product=79&sort=1&cat=12%20-

http://www.ephotozine.com/equipment/tests/testdetail.cfm?test_id=357

For the Sigma:-

http://www.ephotozine.com/equipment/tests/testdetail.cfm?test_id=456

http://www.photozone.de/8Reviews/lenses/sigma_180_35/index.htm

Obviously a fixed focal length macro lens, being easier to correct, will usually beat a zoom.

DaveW
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svalley



Joined: 03 Dec 2006
Posts: 288
Location: Albany, Oregon

PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 1:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rik, I had already read that thread and just reread it. Very nice Scarab image BTW. I did not understand exactly what you are doing.... to shoot the individual tiles are you just moving the camera and rear lens with the front lens remaining stationary, relative to the subject? This is a very interesting concept, but would be hard to adapt to my scope setup at work. I have not had any noticable parallax problems with my stitched images. My procedure is to shoot a stack and process it to produce an extended depth composite (one tile). I shoot the tiles so they overlap by several hundred pixels. Once all these composite tiles have been produced I use the photomerge feature in PhotoShop CS2 to get all the tiles into rough alignment. Then I manually tweak the alignment so it matches perfectly. I then make a gradient transparency about 100 wide along the edge where each layer (tile) overlaps the next one and merge them. In the final image the borders between the tiles are invisible. I have automated a lot of the processing routines so I usually only spend an hour or 2 of post processing per image.

Dave, all it takes is money, which is always in short supply here.
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Steve Valley - Albany, Oregon
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DaveW



Joined: 04 Aug 2006
Posts: 1702
Location: Nottingham, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Dave, all it takes is money, which is always in short supply here."

Thought you Yanks were knee deep in it?

DaveW
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rjlittlefield
Site Admin


Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 18915
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

svalley wrote:
Rik, I had already read that thread and just reread it. Very nice Scarab image BTW. I did not understand exactly what you are doing.... to shoot the individual tiles are you just moving the camera and rear lens with the front lens remaining stationary, relative to the subject?

No, the lens and camera assembly was just shifted sideways for tiling, forward and backward for focusing.
Quote:
This is a very interesting concept, but would be hard to adapt to my scope setup at work.

Yep, it's definitely custom optics.
Quote:
I have not had any noticable parallax problems with my stitched images.

This had me confused for quite a while, but I think I finally figured out how to make everything fit together.

Check out this new explanation and see if it makes sense.

--Rik
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rjlittlefield
Site Admin


Joined: 01 Aug 2006
Posts: 18915
Location: Richland, Washington State, USA

PostPosted: Mon Jan 01, 2007 11:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DaveW wrote:
"all it takes is money, which is always in short supply here."

Thought you Yanks were knee deep in it?

DaveW, we Yanks are knee deep in many things, but money is seldom one of them... Sad Wink

--Rik
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MacroLuv



Joined: 28 Aug 2006
Posts: 1964
Location: Croatia

PostPosted: Wed Jan 03, 2007 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Welcome Steve! And great photographs though. Very Happy That guy on #2 photograph has very interesting hairstyle. Laughing
rjlittlefield wrote:
...
DaveW, we Yanks are knee deep in many things, but money is seldom one of them... Sad Wink

--Rik

... and we are knee deep in #### ... (This "####" wasn't changed by automated censor program, I wrote it myself Laughing)
just kidding Angel
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P.S.
Noticing of my "a" and "the" and other grammar
errors are welcome. Very Happy
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