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Sam Droege

Joined: 07 Jun 2012
Posts: 14
Location: Patuxent Wildlife Research Center

PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 4:15 pm    Post subject: Introduction Reply with quote


I have lurked for quite a while now and have found many good ideas in this forum. So I think it time to introduce myself.

I work for the US Geological Survey as a biologist. I design large scale surveys for animals and have been working on surveys of native bees over the past 10 years or so.

The bottleneck in bee surveys is the identification of the bees. Long story short is that we use pictures to illustrate the guides we build online and for species identifications as well as for hi res shots that can be used by our Park/Refuge/Forest Federal biologists as well as the general public.

At some point we were contacted by the U.S.Army Public Health Unit (Graham Snodgrass to be specific) who showed us their set up which we largely adopted and modified for studio work.

Our basic equipment is a Canon Mark II 5D, Zerene Stacker, 65mm Canon MP-E 1-5X macro lens, Twin Macro Flash, we shoot into the inside of a foam cooler with the back cut off, the open end of the box faces a black felt cloth taped to the wall and we now only vary flash length fixing F5.0, ISO 100, Shutter Speed 200 to keep things simple for the interns. The specimens are on a small pedestal in clay on a pin and the camera is on a stackshot sliderail. We are relatively production oriented and never use some of the advanced tools in Zerene Stacker to fix minor problems of slice overlaps. I do spend quite a bit of time photoshopping, however.

Below are some online things we maintain about our system.



Best pictures at USGSBIML (eye candy set):


Specimens taken in Hand Sanitizer:


Perhaps the best technical forum on macrophotography:


Youtube on basic USGSBIML set up:


USGSBIML Photoshopping technique: Note that we now have added using the color burn brush at 20% opacity to clean up the halos that bleed into the black background from "hot" color sections of the picture or use the burn tool set on "shadows" and at 50% or so.


PDF of basic USGSBIML photography set up:


Google Hangout demonstration of techniques

Contact information: Sam Droege sdroege@usgs.gov 301 497 5840

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Site Admin

Joined: 14 Mar 2009
Posts: 8055
Location: Near London, UK

PostPosted: Sat Nov 09, 2013 7:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Very informative Sam, thanks for showing us.
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