Picture of the Week

The Crescent nebula and surrounding emission nebulosity in Cygnus. This is a single frame Sky90/M26C OSC CCD image taken on the MiniWASP array and comprises in excess of 12-hours of 15-minute subs.

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Photomicroscopy Rig

This is the rig I use to take all photomicrographs. At the top, actually recording the images. is a Canon 5D MkII DSLR. The DSLR sits on the 3rd port of a stereo research-grade microscope. For additional lighting (when needed) you can see a pair of optical light pipes coming forward from the black PSU sitting just behind the microscope.

You might notice that there are no bellows in the camera optical path. Bellows are often used to make the camera parfocal with the microscope, so that if you look through the microscope eyepieces and the subject is in focus, then it is automatically in focus on the camera as well. Personally I don’t like that way of operating the kit. Instead I use the microscope to position the subject, and then looking at the camera’s LCD screen I carefully focus the subject. In that way you can be sure that any image captured by the camera will be in good focus, and you don’t have to be continually checking that your parfocality is spot on every time you use the kit.

 

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High-Speed Photography

Another 10-microsecond open-flash image. This time a water-filled balloon had been shot by an air pistol. But instead of the usual images you see of a ball of water hanging in the air, this one was taken showing the pellet before it exited the balloon!

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Photomicroscopy

This is an 8-frame focus-stacked photomicromosaic of a Fruit Fly (Drosophila).

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Photomicroscopy

This is another focus-stacked photomicromosaic, this time using 5-frames for the mosaic. This is Spirogyra in conjugation at a magnification of 115x.

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Macrophotography

Bees are a super test of your macrophotography skills due to all the fine hairs.

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High-Speed Flash Photography

In these three HSF images you can see a water-filled glass with a soap bubble over the top – about to burst. Underneath the soap bubble there is a rising column of water from the first water drop, and the second water drop is seen to be colliding with the rising water column. Needless to say, there is endless timing trickery involved to get this shot.

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Photomicroscopy

This is a focus-stacked photomicromosaic of a Dragonfly’s eye. What does that mouthful mean? Well at the magnification used (20x) the whole Dragonfly eye will not fit into the FOV of the Canon 5D MkIII on a research trinocular microscope. So in exactly the same way I need to create mosaics to get a BIG field of view (FOV) in astrophotography – I need to do the same with this large object in photomicroscopy. But there’s even more to creating this image. Because the object is so large, you cannot get the whole thing in sharp focus at just one focus setting. So you need to take what is called a focus-stacked image. To do this, you focus on the very bottom of the object and take a shot. You then move up a little and take another shot. You keep repeating this process until you get to the very top of the object. You then use a brilliant piece of software called Helicon Focus to combine all these individually focused images to create an image that appears to be in focus all the way down from the top to the very bottom. This makes it looks very much like an SEM (scanning electron microscope) image – but this approach has a HUGE advantage over an SEM image. Namely the Helicon Focus-produced image IS IN COLOUR.

Now as this image is a mosaic, you can see you have to focus-stack each of the individual images that go into forming the mosaic. It goes without saying that a focus-stacked photomicromosaic involves a LOT OF WORK in its preparation.

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Macrophotography

This is a 60 Megapixel image of an Owl Butterfly (underside) taken with a Canon DSLR and a Canon 100mm macro lens. The image is a mosaic and comprises of 6 separate frames that are put together in Photoshop to create this single extremely high resolution image.

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High-Speed Photography

Here’s an example of just one of many high-speed images taken using my own designed and built high-speed Xenon flashguns.

This is an exposure time of just 10-microseconds (1/100,000th of a second) taken using the open-flash technique. A pair of eggs have been shot with an air rifle and the pellet can be seen frozen in time, towards the far left of the image. No eggs were wasted in the taking of this image, they were fed to the dogs who greatly enjoyed the unexpected snack.

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