By Andrea Kautz
I've learned a lot about macrophotography since starting on the macroinvertebrates.org project in December. Using the GIGAmacro machine is certainly many steps up from a standard microscope automontage set-up that I was used to. Thanks to some coaching by Gene Cooper at GIGAmacro and some equipment upgrades, we have finally got the process optimized for our needs and much more streamlined. We received a higher-quality lens with a new diffuser in June that has produced sharper images.
We are also now backlighting the specimens and diffusing through white paper through a glass petri dish or in some cases a special imaging box (pictured) built by Gene which has a cover to minimize evaporation for large specimens. This method has greatly improved the background of our images and cut down heavily on post-processing because the background is a consistent color and matches the background of the website itself. This eliminates the need for removing the background by meticulously tracing around the specimen.
We have also decreased the spacing between the images in a stack from 0.05 mm to 0.03 mm which gives us higher resolution when zoomed in.
See the following images of a mayfly nymphs in the genus Drunella, before and after these improvements. Amazing!
Drunella before: http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/819120db4c1beaa0dc26d8b5e251ae6d
Drunella after: http://www.gigapan.com/gigapans/6b519a1c97eb286cf7abdd4338c928fe
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