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Cricket first stack tests and some questions.

 
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P_T



Joined: 19 Jul 2008
Posts: 461
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 7:34 am    Post subject: Cricket first stack tests and some questions. Reply with quote

Hello again all. After checking out Augusthouse's links to stacking intro, I decided to give it a go. I ran into a few problems and I'd like to ask a few questions if I may.

First of all, here's the result of the stacking test I did. I used Combined ZM, 25x12MP photos, f/8 and 8" shutter, Do Soft Stack. Took around 5 to 10 minutes.


Anyway, on to the questions.

1. Is there a way to knock the specimen out for a little while without killing them? I really feel bad killing them just to take photos.

2. If the specimen is already dead like that cricket, is there a way to pose it and freeze the pose?

Any info is much appreciated, thanks.
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lauriek
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 8:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I believe Charles Krebs once gassed a horsefly with CO2, not quite sure how he did this but it did enable him to stack a live fly... You'd have to have a search around the forums to try to find the post where this was mentioned.

Not aware of any other ways of achieving this, but like you I would be interested to know if there is an easy way to do it!
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 10:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Unfortunately, most active critters simply cannot be made to hold still without killing them. Or at least, I've never heard of a way to do it.

A few species can be anesthetized with CO2 (carbon dioxide) and retain a natural pose. Lauriek mentioned Charlie Krebs' striking Horsefly.

Other species can be anesthetized OK, but slump into unnatural postures and have to be posed in one way or another while asleep. See for example this photo and this setup.

Anesthetics are far from a perfect solution. CO2 does not work on all species. Posing the subject while it is asleep can damage it. Even when CO2 does work, there may be subtle long-term damage. (I have seen papers cautioning fruit fly researchers not to use CO2 on subjects in behavioral studies). Other anesthetics have similar problems.

There are other approaches that work with a few critters. I once held a certain moth motionless for hours by shining a bright light on it. (This was a camouflaged species that hides in daylight by staying still.)

Chilling is an attractive thought, but I've seldom been able to make it work. (Perhaps a walk-in cooler would help...)

Some subjects will sit still all by themselves for long enough to shoot a stack. I've done this with some caterpillars and orb weaving spiders, such as this one.

But most of the time, getting a live subject to hold still enough to stack is so difficult and likely to injure it, that I just give up and accept the moral burden of killing it outright.

Getting a dead subject to hold pose is also difficult. Drying is the standard approach for insect collections. It works well for insects with hard, pigmented shells, such as most beetles. But soft structures will deform, often severely. Transparent structures such as eyes are likely to change appearance even if there is no surface deformation. Freeze-drying will avoid obvious deformation, but is still likely to change the appearance of transparent structures. That's one reason why it's important to label an image as showing a dead subject even if it's been posed to look live.

Sometimes a fresh dead specimen can be posed by off-screen manipulations such as pinning or gluing feet into proper positions. This is, of course, painstaking work at best.

Sorry I can't paint a more promising picture. I've been mounting bugs for over 40 years now, photographing them for almost that long, and I still haven't found any ways better than what I've mentioned here.

--------------

On the bright side, let me say that the test image you've posted here is excellent! Very Happy Sharp, no obvious stacking artifacts, and really nice lighting.

What did your illumination setup look like?

--Rik
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rovebeetle



Joined: 22 May 2008
Posts: 308
Location: Vienna, Austria

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Rik said it all. Well, you could still use liquid nitrogen Rolling Eyes

rjlittlefield wrote:
I've been mounting bugs for over 40 years now


Have you done that professionally or as a hobby - and which bugs?

Cheers
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 1:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hobby. General insects in 6th grade, gradually specializing into beetles and butterflies in high school, then just butterflies.

When stacking became practical, I spread out again into "whatever might look interesting", which of course includes pretty much everything at high magnification.

So now I'm back to knowing almost nothing about almost everything I'm interested in. Life is never boring! Confused Very Happy

--Rik
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P_T



Joined: 19 Jul 2008
Posts: 461
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 3:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rjlittlefield wrote:
Sorry I can't paint a more promising picture. I've been mounting bugs for over 40 years now, photographing them for almost that long, and I still haven't found any ways better than what I've mentioned here.

--------------

On the bright side, let me say that the test image you've posted here is excellent! Very Happy Sharp, no obvious stacking artifacts, and really nice lighting.

What did your illumination setup look like?

--Rik

Thanks for sharing that bit of wisdom. At least now I know what problem to anticipate without finding out the hard way.

As for the lighting setup, it really was just a hack job. I used the light from my CRT monitor as the "rimlight" to separate it from the background.

It's actually a pretty good source of soft lighting since it has a nice and big area of even light. The best thing is, I can turn it into cool or warm light source by changing my Windows wallpaper. Very Happy

I then put a paper towel above the cricket to diffuse the light from the monitor even more as well as the light from overhead light bulb.

From the left side, I put a flashlight covered with with paper towel. That's it.

Now about the artifacts... There were some minor ones but they were only around the outline and easy to clone out.

The thing is, when I changed the focus by hand, the artifacting was worse as they were also occuring on the body as well, no way I could clean that out. That's when I decided to turn the AF on and use the Remote Shooting software to get the focus increments precisely. That eliminated almost all of the artifacts.

Can't do that with the MP-E lens though, so how do you usually get the focus increments?

Thanks for the compliment as well. I love your spider shots and yeah, web builders are easy to get stacks of. It's the wanderers that are hard. I have a specimen of live White tailed spider and Huntsman and I'd love to keep them that way.
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rjlittlefield
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Joined: 01 Aug 2006
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

P_T wrote:
Can't do that with the MP-E lens though, so how do you usually get the focus increments?

Set the lens focus once, then vary the subject-to-lens distance with some sort of screw slide.

Some setups move the subject, others move the camera+lens. Both work fine; the differences are mainly in ergonomics and flexibility, largely determined by exactly what hardware you have to work with. A slightly dated picture of my rig is shown here.

That's a good tip, using an LCD monitor for part of the illumination. Thanks!

--Rik
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augusthouse



Joined: 16 Sep 2006
Posts: 1195
Location: New South Wales Australia

PostPosted: Wed Jul 23, 2008 11:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

P_T,

Here is a good local (QLD) source for 'subjects'.
http://www.global-insects.com/


Here are a few other setups for reference.

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2825

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=5038

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4968

http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3895

http://photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3337&highlight=novoflex
Craig
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P_T



Joined: 19 Jul 2008
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Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 7:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Colour me dense but if you move the subject closer to the lens, doesn't it make the subject bigger?

@Craig

Thanks for all the links and those setups just seem so out-of-this-world. It's gonna take me a while to get setups like those. In the mean time, do you have any idea for a much more compact setup?

First thing I'll get would be a macro focusing rail and that MP-E lens.

http://www.krebsmicro.com/forumpix/0099sm.jpg

That photo is from in the last link you posted. I understand that thing with the blue dial is the rail but what is that contraption attached to the front part with the round glass?

BTW, I have an idea of using Dry Ice since it's made of pure CO2 which was mentioned to have knock-out capability and leaves your specimen at a relax state. It's also a lot colder than normal ice/freezer and it's got no moisture which might otherwise leave some frost on the specimen.

Has anyone tried that?
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rjlittlefield
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

P_T wrote:
Colour me dense but if you move the subject closer to the lens, doesn't it make the subject bigger?

Sure does! But so does turning the focus ring. The software corrects for this by re-aligning the images based on image content. In CombineZM, the function is called something like Align, and it's built into some but not all of the standard stacking macros. You should make sure it gets executed, or you're liable to get obvious artifacts when the same chunk of detail gets rendered in two slightly different places.

Quote:
Thanks for all the links and those setups just seem so out-of-this-world. It's gonna take me a while to get setups like those. In the mean time, do you have any idea for a much more compact setup?

The setups can seem pretty intimidating at first glance, but most of them have grown from humble beginnings that worked just fine. Take a look at the final image in this article to see how I got started with a camera clamped to a screw table that was borrowed from my basement drill press.

Quote:
First thing I'll get would be a macro focusing rail and that MP-E lens.

Macro focusing rails are good things, but you really need a screw table or a microscope focusing block if you're interested in high magnification stacking. The problem is that the required focus steps get too fine to make reliably with the rack-and-pinion mechanism of most focusing rails. Screw tables are surprisingly inexpensive -- several times cheaper than the MP-E for example, and not even as expensive a good macro rail.

Quote:
http://www.krebsmicro.com/forumpix/0099sm.jpg

That photo is from in the last link you posted. I understand that thing with the blue dial is the rail but what is that contraption attached to the front part with the round glass?

That's a specimen holder. Charlie explained about it someplace or other but I don't have the reference handy. BTW, if I recall correctly, Charlie ended up shooting those Horsefly photos by using the focus ring of the MP-E, not the rail.

Also BTW, I did an admin-edit on your post to change your reference to Charlie's image from [img] to [url]. There's a copyright issue with hot-linking to other people's images. Obvious links are a little less convenient, but a lot more sociable. No big deal, just thought I'd mention it.

Quote:
BTW, I have an idea of using Dry Ice since it's made of pure CO2 which was mentioned to have knock-out capability and leaves your specimen at a relax state. It's also a lot colder than normal ice/freezer and it's got no moisture which might otherwise leave some frost on the specimen.

Has anyone tried that?

I have not tried Dry Ice for this job. From other experiences with it, I would not be surprised to find that you'll have trouble with fog and tiny droplets due to moisture condensing from the air. But it's certainly worth a shot. Any experience reports -- positive or negative -- will be most appreciated!

--Rik
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P_T



Joined: 19 Jul 2008
Posts: 461
Location: Sydney, Australia

PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 7:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My apology for hotlinking the image, it won't happen again.

My goal is somewhere between macro and micro. Take it further than normal 1:1 macro but still not in micro realm. I'll have a look at that screw table tomorrow at the local hardware shop.

As for the dry ice, instead of using it to freeze the speciment, how about using it as an "automatic" CO2 delivery system? It sublimates so technically it can supply CO2 to a small specimen chamber continuously. Need to work out how to prevent the cold from reaching and condensing the chamber though.

Thanks for your patience. Very Happy
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augusthouse



Joined: 16 Sep 2006
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 24, 2008 9:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

P_T,
There is a link below to another thread where we were discussing positioners and the increments available and required for the type of magnification you are interested in.

Also, a while back, when I was looking for solutions in Australia I found the local price of suitable units to be ridiculous... A milling/drilling table like the one Rik uses is available, but expensive in Oz, whereas on eBay they are $89.00 but too heavy and therefore too expensive to ship from the US.

The positioner that is shown in Wim's setup post (http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=3895) is a Proxxon milling/drilling table and is available on eBay for about US$96.00 (last time I looked) and shipping to Australia is very reasonable (US$38.00) considering that the purchase price in Oz for the same positioner is over $275.00 + postage. Here is an eBay link to the Proxxon. Item number 180187745167; just put that number into the general eBay search box. There are a few members who use this approach. I am yet to buy one (Proxxon); but I intend to do so soon.

Here's the post I mentioned earlier.
http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4571&start=0 *there are 2 pages to this thread.

I'd like to see a 40tpi Velmex Unislide A2506C-S2.5-TL under an MPE-65.
http://www.photomacrography.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=4156&highlight=velmex

Craig
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P_T



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PostPosted: Sat Jul 26, 2008 8:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Too much math... brain overloading... Shocked

Thanks for that Proxxon and other links Craig. I've saved that proxxon product in myEbay item to watch until I receive that MP-E lens. I'm also checking out some jeweler tools for some potentially useful tools and one of the 4 prong tweezer looks interesting provided it doesn't have too strong a grip that might crush the specimen.

http://www.gesswein.com/catalog/products/8404451_250.jpg
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lauriek
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PostPosted: Sun Jul 27, 2008 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a nasty feeling that will mangle the specimens, it looks like something I once saw, spring loaded so you press the end of the handle against the springs, and the grippers pop out of the end, and as you release the knob the spring pulls the grippers back into the tube. I suspect unless you can take it apart and put in a less springy spring it won't be any good for bugs..

My quick and dirty method of holding the bygs, which works pretty well for say 80% of the specimens I use is this - small piece of stiff thin cardboard, about 2cm by 1cm. Folded tightly in half. Gently grip the insect by either some of the rear legs or sometimes the wings in between the folded halves, and then grip the cardboard in place with a small electrical crocodile clip, not directly gripping the bug through the card but just holding the card shut on the specimen. (My crocodile clip is mounted on the end of a short stick which mounts onto my specimen movement rig...

Incidentally I forgot to say, nice shot!! Smile
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