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Might you help with macro seed photography?

 
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PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 3:19 pm    Post subject: Might you help with macro seed photography? Reply with quote

Hello,
I'm a new member to your great site, and I hope you might be able to point me in the right direction.
I am a woman who loves to photograph flora (not the person, the plants), and I've just got myself a job shooting plant seeds in macro for a botanical lab. They don't have a set-up and I am, at present, on my own with this. All I have are two pods, a mini & a mono, an Olympus 5050Z and alot of chuzpah.
My presentation piece was a concise contact sheet of seeds, finely labeled, using natural light on a cardbd box with a 3/4" piece of glass to set the seeds on, and they liked it! Looks pretty cool, but it has to be more uniformed. These guys want scale, as well. Not certain how to do this. Have to get a set-up going for myself. Don't know much at all about artifical light. Know I'm behind the 8ball, but this really interests me and I want to do it!
I'm trying not to ramble, but any help (even in designing a "light box" or a light stand would help.
I know I can do this. Help, if you can, and I thank you.
Julie Garden PHI
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nzmacro
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Joined: 20 Apr 2004
Posts: 1604
Location: New Zealand

PostPosted: Thu Nov 18, 2004 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I can help you out in macro, but are you after microscopic Julie ??. There are some real experts here for that.

What we need to know is what ratio or size you want to tackle. If its macro, then a Nikon 6T or Canon 250D are excellent choices of optics. If they fit the Oly that is.

Can you post an example of what you have done so far, using our hosting if you like.

All the best Julie and of course a big welcome.

Danny.
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Julie Garden PHI



Joined: 17 Nov 2004
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2004 3:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks so much Danny for responding.
As you may know, the Oly5050Z has a "Super Macro" mode with both automatic and manual focus down to 1 inch. Lately, I've been using automatic. So, it's 8 inches to 30 " in "Macro" mode.
I am going to be using both natural light (from inside the greenhouses) and artificial (which I don't know well) and have a Sunpak auto 383 Super external flash, I was going to use for my RebelSII, nondij. Would this fit onto the hot shoe of the Oly? I'm at a loss on how to use this aspect.
They have also mentioned a "light table". I do have a small "light box" coming to help woth some of it, but I sorely doubt that's all I'll need. keep making lists of other necessary ingredients!
I have done as you recommended and uploaded a recent photo of Euphorbia seeds, don't quite know where the shot is though - I'll find it here somewhere - you probably know right where to go. This is what I'm up against.
Any help would be heavenly appreciated.
My Thanks,
Julie
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Julie Garden PHI



Joined: 17 Nov 2004
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2004 3:35 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here's the photo. Sorry for any blunders in recovering it.
PLMK, Danny, including all who may have afford some guidance.
My system is pretty "organic".



(Hello, Julie. I took the liberty of locating your images, selecting one, and resizing to fit our guidelines...Tom) :D
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nzmacro
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PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2004 9:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well I actually think what you have there is very good Julie. I would not like to see too much of a light tent or too much diffused lighting for these seeds. If we make it too diffused you will lose those small shadows you have in this, they are important to give them depth and texture. Take that away and they become just far too flat IMO. I would look at and try using a black cardboard as a background to make them stand out even more. Keep it well below the glass so you don't pick up any textures from the paper or card board itself. Try and keep it so the DOF is equal in all of the seeds and you must keep the glass clean for sure.

For scale I would use something like a match head or eye of a needle. Its something I've done with aphids to give them scale. Now they may want a more natural type of scale, in which case a small daisy maybe.

The problem from giving scale from another item, is that it does not dominate and take away from what you are trying to show...seeds. So that would be worth playing around with Julie. To be honest, you have a great start in this shot. I would try and keep it like this. A light tent or too much white may kill those excellent textures and depth you have captured here, very subtle, but its there. Well done IMHO.

Others might have a few ideas for you as well.

All the best Julie and if you want to get a higher ratio shot, suggest they buy a Nikon 6T or a Canon 250D for you to shoot with Very Happy , to me thats fair. Any help Julie, just yell.

Danny.
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Julie Garden PHI



Joined: 17 Nov 2004
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Sat Nov 20, 2004 11:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

How great of you to respond, and thank you for your compliment. SLowly but surely I'll hone this craft. I really do love it.
All the help I can get, I'll be looking for. Thanks so for the tips and I'll keep you posted.
best,
Julie
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MikeBinOKlahoma



Joined: 20 Nov 2004
Posts: 1491
Location: Umm....Could it be Oklahoma?

PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 12:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a non-aesthetic, but accurate scale, I have sometimes photographed the millimeter scale of a flat plastic ruler next to small items. Sorry if this is obvious. You'll have to make sure the ruler is in the same plane as the zone of interest on your seeds, of course.

I haven't tried it, but it occurs to me that if you want to convey a sense of scale in a familiar way, and don't mind a distracting background, photographin the seeds on a distinctive part of a dollar bill (or whatever your local currency is) might get size across in a very familiar way. You'd have to have enough DOF to include the bill surface as well as your subjects, of course.
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(reposts on this site of my images for critique or instruction are welcome)
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gpmatthews



Joined: 27 Apr 2004
Posts: 539
Location: Horsham, UK

PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2004 1:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What I do for scale bars for microscope work is photograph a scale, such as a ruler, or for higher power work a stage micrometer, using the same settings as for the main photograph. Then I create a scale bar of suitable style and colour on the ruler photograph in a separate layer and copy and paste it onto the main photo. For micro work, I keep copies of the calibration photo, retaining the layers, with details of the lenses etc. used, so I can always copy my scale bar onto other images that were made with the same setup.

Rulers in particular can look a bit rough when magnified, so your own stylish scale bar offers a solution.
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2004 3:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thank you all so much for your replies and suggestions.
Tom - Thank you for resizing the photo and choosing, I'll get the hang of it.
GPMatthews, MikeBinOklahoma - I have puchased a see-thru ruler from a lab outfit, should eta shortly & I can try this technique. Thank you.
Danny - I'll also experiment with a "familiar" item like the eye of a needle or a matchstick. Let's see! I will be working in macro, for the time being, so this is the format. I think the black board idea is great & I'll pick up some. Any photo place you suggest, maybe in the Boston area or online for accessories?
I love the Photoshop idea of a "layer" with a ruler and then including it in the shots.
Thank you!
Julie
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nzmacro
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 22, 2004 4:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yes some excellent ideas there. Ahhh from New Zealand I would not have a clue where to get a black background from in Boston Very Happy Very Happy

Since they are small, just look for a black piece of cardboard, make sure its well out of focus and well set back Julie. You could always take a shot from your camera with the lens cap on and then print it. You could also use whatever software you have, make a new image (Large), make that completely black, then print that.

If you are familiar with your software, you could also play with making a graduation varying in depth of two colours, then print that. Could be worth playing for a couple of hours on the PC, to see what background you like. Its only small objects Julie, so a clean 8x10 print out is probably all thats needed. Just keep it well back from the subjects so that they look like they are floating.

Heres another idea for ya. A mirror as a background, take a look



So on there we have 4 chromed balls, sitting on a mirror. it gives it a sort of floating effect and gives it depth with the reflections. Just plain glass would give this an even more feel of floating.

Anyway, if there is some way we can help, there are plenty of good folks as we can see. Very Happy

Danny.
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2004 2:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Danny,
What a beautiful shot! Went to a stationary shop several days ago with my head full of ideas and picked up large sheets (so as to cut if necessary) of poster paper: metallic silver, metallic gold, black, blue, cream, and pale green. Also ordered a small light box and a lighted copy stand and mini-type copy stand with a fluorescent box base. I was complemented by the gentleman I'll be working with/for, so I'm on my way! Lots to learn. Certainly glad you all are hear!
Here's a question, do you know of, or could you recommend a contact sheet program to me? I just finished working with Canon's PhotoRecord 2.0, and a bit with Adobe's Elements prgm in contacts sheets. The Canon program (comes with my printer) looks smashing and very clear and true, but as I just found out, will not open because I MOVED THE ORIGINAL SHOTS! Glad I'm in the beginning stages, as I won't forget this faux pas again. The Adobe contact sheet program in Elements and as I can see in the "full-blown" version of Photoshop, seem to print very grainy.
Any suggestions?
BTW, I won't delete this till I'm certain it won't by any means - did print just one copy...
My Best and thanks again,
Julie
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nzmacro
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PostPosted: Fri Nov 26, 2004 9:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

No problem Julie, glad we can help. Sounds like great ideas for backgrounds you have there, well done.

Contact prints. Lets see if this gets me into trouble Very Happy I use the windows print function Wink If place all the images you want into one folder, then select all, then go to "File" and hit the print button. That will take you through the stages until you get to selecting the types of print you want, including "Contact prints". Big cheat huh Very Happy

Thats providing you are using windows operating system and running XP.

All the best and keep in touch.

Danny.
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 28, 2004 3:20 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WOW it works!!! That's wonderful. I so thank you.
Onto bigger and better things. Going out in the field with a seed collector tomorrow to photograph, "seed collection".
Thanks again Danny!
Julie
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DaveW



Joined: 09 Jul 2006
Posts: 30

PostPosted: Thu Jul 13, 2006 12:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Julie

Used to know somebody who photographed cactus seeds, perhaps at a slightly larger scale than yours. He used to get a shot of the hilum as well as the side view of another seed all in the same shot. The main problem with that though is getting both the side of one seed and the hilum of another on the same plane because depth of field at these magnifications is minimal.

You could could try gluing two seeds onto pins, one sideways on and one end up. If you place a bit of black paper on a sheet of polystyrene, or something similar, you can push the pins through the paper into the polystyrene so both the side of one and the hilum of another are on the same plane. Bit fiddly I know. Sort of a vertical "stick shot" similar to the horizontal ones professionals use in advertising photography. You may need to paint the pins black so they don't reflect, as well as blend into the background.

He used either Zeis or Leica macro lenses though, I don't remember which. But you are evidently getting the magnification you want with the equipment you have. Afraid I don't grow Euphorbias I am a dyed in the wool cactophile and will not have other succulents in my greenhouse. Also the sap on many is a bit nasty!!

DaveW
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