Morpho rhetenor cacica

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augusthouse
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Morpho rhetenor cacica

Post by augusthouse »

My first attempt at stacking...Yep, I finally took the step.

Morpho rhetenor cacica. A member of the 'Royal Family' of morpho butterflies from South America.

I chose this section of the rear wing because I liked the way the scales lapped the wing vein and the undulations in the wing played nicely with the illumination / flash - 1x Nikon SB-28 (half power) down 4 fiber optic cables. 3 second exposure (vibration overkill, anti-shock ON) / flash sync - rear curtain.

RAW converted to tiff via Phase One Capture One 4.1

The DSLR was tethered to the PC. I utilised the Time Lapse option in the Nikon Camera Control Software (set at 15 secs between shots, the PC automatically controls the shutter release) and moved the subject in between shots via the positioner micrometer. The positioner in this instance was the Newport Z axis positioner - one of the first gizmos I purchased.

CombineZM / Do Stack (44 images). Nikon CF M 10x on bellows. Objective thread (shoulder) 210mm from D100 Sensor.

*I could have cropped the alignment borders (I assume that explains the kaleidoscope effect along the right-hand side of the image?), but didn't; check out the tiny wombat head just above the bottom right corner.

Image

Craig
To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

lauriek
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Post by lauriek »

That is really gorgeous - stunning colour and nice composition, also the lighting is excellent!! Any chance of some shots of your lighting rig?

Do you get morphos in Australia or is that a purchased specimen?

ETA Yep stacking alignment issue on the right hand side. Did you crop the other borders?, I normally get these all the way around and crop them out manually after stacking...

beetleman
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Post by beetleman »

An excellent photo Craig. The color, the scales, the veins are all incredible. I bet you had a big smile on your face when this popped on the computer :wink: . Looking forward to more.
Take Nothing but Pictures--Leave Nothing but Footprints.
Doug Breda

DaveW
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Post by DaveW »

Nice picture and great use of the diagonals.

DaveW

rjlittlefield
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Post by rjlittlefield »

Craig,

"Welcome aboard -- a truly excellent first post! :D "

Well, not exactly a first post, but you know what I mean. :wink:

About the reflected borders created by CombineZM -- they aren't really due to alignment. They appear as soon as the images are loaded, and they'll be present in the output even if you skip all of the alignment steps. I believe their purpose is to simplify some of the program's internal operations, but I haven't investigated exactly how that works. The width of the added borders seems to vary a lot depending on input image size, which of course means it varies from camera to camera. With my Canon 300D (3072x2048), the borders are narrow at top and sides, but wide at the bottom, where yours seem to be narrow except on the right. :?

Anyway, as others have said, this image has great composition, beautiful saturated colors, and it's tack sharp from corner to corner. Very nice! :smt023

The only suggestion I would make is to consider some overall brightening. On my monitors, this whole image ranges from dark to very dark (depending on monitor settings). Photoshop shows a histogram that's pushed way far to the left. Just as an experiment, I added a level adjustment layer and found that (0,1.5,255) showed more detail, kept good saturation, and held up OK across a range of monitors. Just depends on what effect you want and what the real butterfly looks like. I generally think of morphos as being intense but fairly bright. This one may be different, of course.

It's great to see that wonderful kit of yours shooting some neat subjects. We get to see more, yes? <insert begging-puppy emoticon here>

--Rik

Charles Krebs
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Post by Charles Krebs »

Craig,
My first attempt at stacking...Yep, I finally took the step.
About time!... I was beginning to think you were planning to open an optics lab or something! :wink: :D

Yes it looks great, aesthetically and technically! Nice image indeed!

Like Rik, seemed a tad dark to me so I also popped it into PS and came up with a levels adjustment to 0/1.4/215 to suit my tastes on my screen here.

augusthouse
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Post by augusthouse »

Laurie, I'll post some pictures of the lighting setup. (P.S. - saw your pics on iStock).

* Morphos are not native to Australia - unfortunately (we can't have everything). We do have some tiny iridescent butterflies - the Satin Azure Ogyris Amaryllis for example. Family Lycaenidae - Subfamily Theclinae and of course Papilio ulysses.

I don't collect butterflies - I just admire them. My morpho samples were sourced from OS as papered specimens. I re-hydrate and set them myself. On that note, there is an intense respect among most Lepidoptera collectors with regard to ecological and environmental aspects, so I make a point to source material from suppliers with recognised credentials and ethics.

I also have lots of questions in regard to stacking software parameters.

I want to run this stack through TuFuse and trial the stack aligning capabilities of Photoshop CS3 Extended (it's mentioned in the TuFuse forum).

I'll use the images from this project in various stacking software and play around (whilst learning, I hope) with options and parameters, etc. I will also need to download a copy of Helicon Focus.

There was no post-production on this image (apart from stacking) - I just wanted to see how the stack turned out. So it hasn't been cropped at all. Just a small amount of UnSharp mask just before output for the forum post.

When using the Camera Control Software I was able to view the images full-screen, one-by-one (between shots) as they were downloaded to the hard drive. I could watch the difference at each increment and could determine when to stop shooting.

The diffuser used in this shot was a cylinder of artist's acetate (tracing paper), wrapped around the objective and held in place by an elastic band enabling the 'cylinder' to be adjusted up or down.

Doug, when the final stacked image popped up, I did have a smile. It was the initial reward for all the learning and thinking and gizmo collecting that I've been doing for some time. There was also an element of relief when I realised that I could actually do this!

Dave W, I spent the morning setting up the equipment and then once the subject was on stage I began moving it around 'looking for the photograph'; either I found it or it found me? (It was the introduction of the fourth light guide that caught the edge of the scales). I was in a hurried state of excitement - as usual, and then I thought about Stephen Dalton, and how he would sometimes spend 5 weeks just setting up and preparing for a shot; his example of patience enabled me to take a breathe and 'go with the flow'. That's a well I will always need to draw from.

Now the butterfly - Morpho rhetenor cacica (Peru) Male. It has an 'intense' deep Royal Blue and 'stunning' metallic iridescence that changes depending on the direction and intensity of the light source. The rhetenors are darker than most morpho butterflies - Morpho rhetenor helena (Peru) being my personal favourite, followed by Morpho cypris(Colombia), Morpho rhetenor cacica paradisiaca (Peru)and Morpho rhetenor cacica (Peru).

One morpho butterfly that I anticipate will be the trickiest to photograph is Morpho sulkowski Peru - 'mother-of-pearl' iridescence. I'm going to have a go at that one and Morpho aurora aurora Bolivia, with a darkfield gizmo.

The image exported for posting in the forum was slightly darker than the original and tended to over exagerate the 'blue' somewhat - just a bit. Tweaking the levels as suggested by Rik and Charlie is definitely applicable whilst maintaining the distinction between the various 'blues' of the morphos. The M. rhetenors are darker than most of the blue morphos.

Charlie wrote:
About time!... I was beginning to think you were planning to open an optics lab or something!
Yep, my family are convinced I am building some sort of Time Machine.

Craig
To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

Charles Krebs
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Post by Charles Krebs »

Craig,

By all means try the different software that is out there with a variety of images. Helicon, Tufuse, and CombineZ all have their strengths and it's important to get a feel for that.

I might suggest though, that this may not really be a good image to spend a great deal of time with trying to do software comparisons. It's a great shot, and needed stacking to turn out as good as it did, it's just that an image like this should be an easy job for any of those programs. (It's hard to tell without seeing one or two of the full size source images, but I think they would all do an excellent job here).

An image where there are many crossing hairs or antenna, legs crossing over each other (or over a part of the face), areas with fine low contrast detail, as well as areas with very little or no detail will really illustrate the differences in these programs.

augusthouse
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Post by augusthouse »

Thanks Charlie,
I was just going to use this one and have a drive of the various programs and explore the parameters, not to arrive at any solid determinations but just to become more familar with the layout and logic of each program. A reconnaissance mission. I expect I'll use them all at various times with future stacks. It's always good to have options.

Craig
To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

Harold Gough
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Post by Harold Gough »

A year or so ago I bought a book on high impact image technique. Yours would not look out of place in the book.

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

Planapo
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Post by Planapo »

Craig and Charlie wrote:
Quote:
About time!... I was beginning to think you were planning to open an optics lab or something!

Yep, my family are convinced I am building some sort of Time Machine.
:D Yeah, I was also concerned about what´s going on down the hill there with all that top-notch equipment that must be piling up to the roof in the "augusthouse" by now. :) :wink:

But it was worth waiting for that photograph. Entrancing colours and textures! I particularly like how the edges of the scales light up.

Nevertheless, I must say that I am always concerned when it comes to trading of such animals or plants (or parts of these) that are taken from the wild, presumably in an uncontrolled, unmonitored way for a grey market. (Or were they bred in captivity?) :-k :smt085

--Betty

augusthouse
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Post by augusthouse »

Harold,
The book you mentioned sounds interesting. Do you have an ISBN or link to some information in regard to the publication. "High Impact", that seems to define my driving inspiration.

Betty,
I share your concerns with regard to exploitation of flora and fauna.

There is a massive breeding program worldwide with regard to Lepidoptera. The collectors like them in pristine condition (A++ grade, ex-pupae) ; but some obviously like the adventure associated with examples netted in the wild. Some of us enjoy the adventure of re-populating the wild - it's more fun too!

CITES keep a good eye on the situation and have substantial 'ground troops' and government participation which is expanding - gradually, with the usual frustrations and complications.

Quote from CITES website:

"Any type of wild plant or animal may be included in the list of species protected by CITES [see Resolution Conf. 9.24 (Rev. CoP14)] and the range of wildlife species included in the Appendices extends from leeches to lions and from pine trees to pitcher plants. While the more charismatic creatures, such as bears and whales, may be the better known examples of CITES species, the most numerous groups include many less popularized plants and animals, such as aloes, corals, mussels and frogs."


As an example, I have never received a package of butterflies from anywhere in the world that hasn't been opened and checked by Customs - and I'm glad they look inside and leave their calling-card - I'd make a noise if they didn't.

Birdwings, for example, are on the CITES list at various levels of the 'watch' scale; not all flora and fauna on the CITES list are endangered but are being monitored nonetheless.

I did import one package of Birdwing butterflies - Ornithoptera from Papua New Guinea. For that excercise I needed to obtain export permission from the PNG Government. The next step was to apply for import permission from the Australian Government. Such permission at both ends will only be granted if the material is being supplied from a CITES registered breeding farm. There is a difference between a Breeding Farm and a Breeding Ranch.

A Breeding Ranch is basically an area that is over-planted with relative food plants so as to lure butterflies in from the wild so that they can be caught.

A Breeding Farm breeds the butterflies from eggs and are able to supply various grades and are obviously able replenish their breeding stock.

The supplier I now obtain butterflies and bugs from is based in Queensland. Talk about passion!. He adheres to all the rules - those written and unwritten.

What do the butterflies think about all this? They are inquisitive individuals, certainly not just pretty things that flutter around for our amusement. I have some incredible stories with regard to butterflies, so for me it is a personal affair with layers of respect and admiration.

The greatest tools we have to apply to Exploitation and Ignorance is Education and Appreciation. High Impact Photography has a significant role to play.

Craig
To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

DaveW
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Post by DaveW »

Don't get me on CITES as a cactophile. They started with good intentions but are an now unelected Quango with no democratic input from our elected representatives and their enforcement is staffed with the usual civil service bureaucrats who are more interested in generating paperwork and "gold plating" regulations to make a living for themselves than in actual conservation.

A farmer can legally plough up endangered plants, spray them with herbicide or burn them, and a developer bulldoze them for housing, factories or roads, but should anybody try and rescue these doomed plants and transport them over a national border they are in trouble. Theoretically you can get a licence to do so, but these are seldom issued and by the time all the paperwork has gone through and one has been granted the plants have been destroyed anyway.

It is habitats themselves that need protecting, but there are too many powerful agricultural and industrial interests with a strangle hold on governments to allow similar restrictions on development of habitats to those on exporting the doomed plants themselves.

CITES was a good idea, but lacks proper democratic control by member governments elected representatives with input from the citizen, and alas is often staffed by "jobsworths"! National politics have also intruded into what should have been an apolitical service.

Plants are often listed wrongly as endangered, but seldom ever removed from the list when the mistake is discovered as the lister would loose face, Also because many national enforcement staff are so unqualified they cannot tell one species from another anything that looks similar to the endangered species is listed too! That's a bit like saying as Joe Smith is a criminal and white so since we don't want him crossing our border we will ban all white people too!

Off my soapbox now!

DaveW

Harold Gough
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Post by Harold Gough »

augusthouse wrote:Harold,
The book you mentioned sounds interesting. Do you have an ISBN or link to some information in regard to the publication. "High Impact", that seems to define my driving inspiration.
I hope this helps:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Photos-Impact-T ... 776&sr=1-5

There is also a paperback version.

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

augusthouse
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Location: New South Wales Australia

Post by augusthouse »

Harold,
Thanks for the information. Appreciated.

DaveW,
With regard to CITES; some of the frustrations you mentioned were anticipated and inevitable with such an undertaking, it seems to be the way of things (for the moment) but not necessarily the final outcome. Sometimes we have to plough through those obstacles with sustained, determined persistance.

It's a bit like that episode of 'Yes Prime Minister' - where they build a top-notch 5000 bed hospital complete with a large and extremely busy administration staff. The whole place works and functions perfectly - but there aren't any patients and Humphrey can't understand why they should introduce patients into a hospital that functions like a Swiss watch. The Prime Minister finds a way around the problem. Classic!

Anyway, from little things big things grow and sometimes from big things little things grow.

Here is an example - 'from the mouth of babes'.

http://www.barnens-regnskog.net/ideal_e.htm

Craig
To use a classic quote from 'Antz' - "I almost know exactly what I'm doing!"

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