Archive for the ‘How To’ Category

“Generic Baskettail” (definitely not a Cruiser)

February 18, 2019

larva/nymph in the Family Corduliidae (Emeralds) was collected by Bob Perkins on 02 December 2017 from a pond in Orange Park, Florida (USA). The larva died before it metamorphosed into an adult.

As you can see by looking at a close-up image of the face-head at 3x magnification, there is no horn on the face of the specimen. Therefore this individual is not a member of Family Macromiidae (Cruisers), as I speculated in my last blog post.

“Generic Baskettail” larva (preserved specimen) | face-head

Knowing the limits of our expertise

Although I still need to key out the specimen carefully, at this point I’m certain Bob is correct — the larva is a member of the Family Corduliidae (Emeralds). The question that remains unanswered is “Which genus/species?” We may never know the answer, as we have reached the limit of our experience and expertise.

I did a quick scan of Paulson’s [book], looking at the Emerald Family. Here, according to the range maps, are the possibilities for Orange Park [FL]. I believe you can see why I stopped at “generic basketttail.” Source Credit: Bob Perkins.

What do you think the identity is? Most of the items in the preceding list feature links to photos of odonate larvae/exuviae. See the links to BugGuide from the scientific names in the list.

Tech Tips

Four (4) photos were used to create the preceding focus-stacked composite image. A single focus point was positioned over the face, between the antennae. At a magnification of 3x, it’s difficult to manually focus on a single point — the slightest movement around the macro rig changes focus unintentionally. A simple work-around for this problem is to take several shots of the same focus point and create a composite image of the photos.

The following equipment was used to shoot the preceding composite image: Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, in manual mode; Canon MP-E 65mm Macro lens (set for f/16 at 3x); a Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite set for “Master” mode, and a single external flash set for “Slave” mode — a Godox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier. A Sunpak LED-160 Video Light was used to add fill light to the top of the subject.

Auto power-off was disabled for the camera and external flash units.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to create the focus stack, as well as spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Advertisements

Test shots: “Generic Baskettail?”

February 15, 2019

larva/nymph in the Family Corduliidae (Emeralds) was collected by Bob Perkins on 02 December 2017 from a pond in Orange Park, Florida (USA). The larva died before it metamorphosed into an adult.

Test shots of this beautifully preserved specimen were taken using a small-ish aperture of f/11 for greater depth of field. The following photos are “one-offs,” that is, not composite images.

Dorsal

A single focus point — located on the thorax (specifcally, the “shoulder pad” along the right side of the body) — was used to shoot this photo. The specimen has enough “relief” that focus on the wing pads and dorsal hooks is slightly soft. This view of the larva is a good candidate for focus-stacking.

The terminal appendages (cerci, epiproct, paraprocts) are shown clearly in the following photo.

“Generic Baskettail” larva (preserved specimen) | Orange Park, FL USA

Bob’s best guess of the identity of the specimen is Epitheca sp., either Common Baskettail (Epitheca cynosura) or Prince Baskettail (Epitheca princeps).

Whenever I see an odonate larvae/exuviae with long legs, my first thought is Family Macromiidae (Cruisers). Then I check for a horn on top of the head, a key field marker for Cruisers. Look closely at the dorsal view of the larva and I think you’ll agree with me there appears to be a horn on the head. I would like to take close-up photos of the head and key out the specimen in order to determine its identity. In the meantime, my best guess is Stream Cruiser (Didmops transversa) as indicated by the lateral spines on abdominal segment nine (S9) and the absence of a dorsal hook on S10.

Ventral

The ventral side of the specimen has almost no “relief,” so a “one-off” focused on the thorax looks fairly good from head-to-tail.

“Generic Baskettail” larva (preserved specimen) | Orange Park, FL USA

Tech Tips

The following equipment (shown below) was used to shoot the preceding photos: Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera; Fujifilm MCEX-16 extension tube; Fujinon XF80mm macro lensGodox XProF TTL Wireless Flash Trigger for Fujifilm camerasGodox TT685F Thinklite TTL Flash for Fujifilm CamerasGodox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash for Canon Cameras fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier; and a Canon 580EX II Speedlite mounted on a Godox X1R-C TTL Wireless Flash Trigger Receiver for Canon. A new Godox TT685O Thinklite TTL Flash for Olympus/Panasonic Cameras was added to an array of radio-controlled external flash units used to light the specimen. All flashes were set for Manual Mode at 1/128 power.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Composite images: “Generic Gomphid”

February 13, 2019

“It’s like Deja vu all over again.” (Source Credit: Yogi Berra.) But seriously folks, if you were thinking “Hey these pictures look familiar!” then you’re right. My last blog post features “one-offs” of the same subject, that is, photos with a single focus point on the mid-body of the specimen.

This post features focus-stacked composite images that show dorsal- and ventral views of a preserved larva in the Family Gomphidae (Clubtails) that was collected by Bob Perkins. I think both composite images look better than the “one-offs” in my last blog post; the difference is especially noticeable by looking at the head and tail in the vernal view.

Dorsal

Five (5) photos were used to create the first focus stack. A single focus point was positioned over select anatomical features; photos were taken at each point of interest.

“Generic Gomphid” larva (preserved specimen) | New River, VA USA

Ventral

Six (6) photos were used to create the second focus stack.

“Generic Gomphid” larva (preserved specimen) | New River, VA USA

Related Resource: Test shots: “Generic Gomphid.”

Tech Tips

The following equipment (shown below) was used to shoot the preceding photos: Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera; Fujifilm MCEX-16 extension tube; Fujinon XF80mm macro lensGodox XProF TTL Wireless Flash Trigger for Fujifilm camerasGodox TT685F Thinklite TTL Flash for Fujifilm CamerasGodox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash for Canon Cameras fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier; and a Canon 580EX II Speedlite mounted on a Godox X1R-C TTL Wireless Flash Trigger Receiver for Canon. A new Godox TT685O Thinklite TTL Flash for Olympus/Panasonic Cameras was added to an array of radio-controlled external flash units used to light the specimen. All flashes were set for Manual Mode at 1/128 power.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to create the preceding focus-stacked composite images, as well as spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Test shots: “Generic Gomphid”

February 11, 2019

A larva/nymph in the Family Gomphidae (Clubtails) was collected by Bob Perkins from the New River in southwestern Virginia. The larva died before it metamorphosed into an adult.

Test shots of this beautifully preserved specimen were taken using a small-ish aperture of f/11 for greater depth of field. The following photos are “one-offs,” that is, not composite images.

Dorsal

80mm (120mm, 35mm equivalent) | ISO 200 | f/11 | 1/180 s | 0 ev

Bob’s best guess of the identity of the specimen is Phanogompus sp. I see several similarities between this larva and a Phanogomphus lividus exuvia (Ashy Clubtail) in my collection, so Bob’s tentative identification might be correct. More later after the specimen is keyed out.

Ventral

80mm (120mm, 35mm equivalent) | ISO 200 | f/11 | 1/180 s | 0 ev

This individual might be female, as indicated by the rudimentary ovipositor that can be seen on the ventral side of the specimen along the boundary between abdominal segments eight and nine (S8-9).

Related Resource: Composite images: “Generic Gomphid.”

Tech Tips

The following equipment (shown below) was used to shoot the preceding photos: Fujifilm X-T1 digital camera; Fujifilm MCEX-16 extension tube; Fujinon XF80mm macro lensGodox XProF TTL Wireless Flash Trigger for Fujifilm camerasGodox TT685F Thinklite TTL Flash for Fujifilm CamerasGodox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash for Canon Cameras fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier; and a Canon 580EX II Speedlite mounted on a Godox X1R-C TTL Wireless Flash Trigger Receiver for Canon. A new Godox TT685O Thinklite TTL Flash for Olympus/Panasonic Cameras was added to an array of radio-controlled external flash units used to light the specimen. All flashes were set for Manual Mode at 1/128 power.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Gear used for studio macro photography.

By the way, in case you looked at the preceding photo and wondered “What’s up with the crazy crop?” I used Photoshop to conceal some of the clutter in my kitchen. I set up my macro photo rig in the kitchen because it’s the largest uncarpeted area in my tiny apartment. Padded carpet is a poor surface for macro photography — the field of view from a tripod-mounted camera-lens-flash trigger combo shifts noticeably (and unacceptably) as one moves around the rig.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

“Post Focus” image: toy dinosaur

February 8, 2019

A toy dinosaur was “photographed” at BoG Photo Studio using my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 digital camera set for “Post Focus.”

The camera was set for ISO 100 and Aperture Priority at f/2.8. Two Sunpak LED-160 Video Lights plus a Nissin i40 external flash unit (set for video light) were used to light the scene. 30 individual frames were extracted from the resulting MP4 video, and saved as TIF files; Adobe Photoshop was used to create the following focus-stacked composite image.

A plastic toy dinosaur.

Noise (graininess) has been a problem in some previous test shots using “Post Focus,” due to low light (underexposure). I changed the ISO from AUTO to 100 for this test, opened the aperture all the way to f/2.8, and added a third LED light source.

This is the first time I tested “Post Focus” and felt like the camera had a mind of its own! Nonetheless, the final output turned out OK. Further research and experimentation is required in order to understand what happened and why.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

More composite images: P. obscurus exuvia

February 6, 2019

The following focus-stacked composite images show dorsal- and ventral views of the exuvia from a Common Sanddragon (Progomphus obscuruslarva that was collected and reared by Bob Perkins.

Here are some personal observations after examining the specimen carefully.

The front- and middle legs block the mentum (prementum). This specimen is a good candidate for rehydrating the exuvia and reposing its legs.

Related Resource: Composite image: Progomphus obscurus exuvia.

Tech Tips

Six (6) photos were used to create the first focus stack; seven (7) photos were used for the second. A single focus point was positioned over select anatomical features, working from back-to-front; photos were taken at each point of interest.

The following equipment was used to shoot all of the photographs for the two focus-stacked composite images, shown above: Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, in manual mode; Kenko 20mm macro automatic extension tubeCanon EF100mm f/2.8L Macro lens (set for manual focus); and Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite set for “Master” mode, and several external flashes set for “Slave” mode including Canon 580 EX- and Canon 580EX II Speedlites and a Godox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to create the focus-stacked composite images, as well as spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Composite image: Progomphus obscurus exuvia

February 4, 2019

The following focus-stacked composite image shows the exuvia from a Common Sanddragon (Progomphus obscurus) larva that was collected and reared by Bob Perkins.

I have 10s, maybe 100s, of Common Sanddragon exuviae in my collection, but have never seen one cleaner than this beautiful specimen. I didn’t realize P. obscurus larvae are so hairy!

Related Resource: More composite images: P. obscurus exuvia.

Tech Tips

11 photos were used to create the focus stack. A single focus point was positioned over select anatomical features, working from back-to-front; photos were taken at each point of interest.

The following equipment was used to shoot the preceding composite image: Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, in manual mode; Canon MP-E 65mm Macro lens (set for f/11 at 3x); and Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite set for “Master” mode, and several external flashes set for “Slave” mode including Canon 580 EX- and Canon 580EX II Speedlites and a Godox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier.

Auto power-off was disabled for the camera and all external flash units.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to create the focus stack, as well as spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

Test shot: Cordulegaster sp. larva

February 1, 2019

Bob Perkins collected and reared a larva/nymph from the Family Cordulegastridae (Spiketails). The larva died before it metamorphosed into an adult.

Test shots of this beautifully preserved specimen (Cordulegaster sp.) were taken using a relatively small aperture of f/16 for greater depth of field. The following photo is a “one-off,” that is, not a composite image.

Cordulegaster sp. larva (preserved specimen) | face-head

Odonates are aquatic insects. They spend most of their life as larvae that live in water; this stage of their life cycle can last from a few months to a few years. Finally, they emerge from the water and metamorphose into adults in order to reproduce; their offspring return to the water and the cycle begins again.

Most larvae go through 10-13 stages of development known as “instars.” The author lacks sufficient experience to identify the instar of this specimen, although it appears to be one of the later stages.

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot the preceding photo: Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital camera, in manual mode; Canon MP-E 65mm Macro lens (set for 3x); and Canon MT-26EX-RT Macro Twin Lite set for “Master” mode, and several external flashes set for “Slave” mode including Canon 580 EX- and Canon 580EX II Speedlites and a Godox TT685C Thinklite TTL Flash fitted with a Lastolite Ezybox Speed-Lite 2 flash modifier. A Sunpak LED-160 Video Light was used to light the underside of the white plastic posing “stage.”

Auto power-off was disabled for the camera and all external flash units.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

“Post Focus” images: Shadow Darner dragonfly

January 30, 2019

Bob Perkins collected and reared a Shadow Darner dragonfly (Aeshna umbrosa) larva/nymph. This blog post features two focus-stacked composite images of a beautifully preserved specimen of the adult that emerged from the larva.

Each composite image was created from 30 TIF files extracted from a one-second MP4 video of the subject, “photographed” using my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 digital camera set for “Post Focus.”

This individual is a male, as indicated by his terminal appendages and “indented” hind wings (shown above). All male dragonflies have three terminal appendages, collectively called “claspers”: the two cerci are missing (they broke off the terminal end of the abdomen during shipping); the epiproct is intact.

Shadow Darner (Aeshna umbrosa) | dorsal-lateral view

Takeaways

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from on-going experimentation with Panasonic “Post Focus” is that the process continues to impress — it works quickly (typically one second or so) and works well, using lightweight, inexpensive equipment for making composite images of acceptable quality.

What’s not to like? The obvious answer: The image quality isn’t as high as comparable images created using HEAVY and EXPENSIVE camera gear in the controlled environment of a photo studio. On the other hand, I know from experience I’m unlikely to lug all of that gear into the field. I call it a BIG WIN to have found a relatively lightweight, inexpensive camera kit that does essentially the same job almost as well!

The next test: Use adult dragonflies in the wild as the subject. Regrettably, that will have to wait until the first odonates begin emerging during early spring.

Related Resources

Tech Tips

The following equipment was used to shoot the “photos” for creation of the composite images, shown above: Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 digital camera set for “Post Focus“; and two Sunpak LED-160 Video Lights.

Adobe Photoshop CC 2017 was used to create the preceding focus-stacked composite images, as well as spot-heal and sharpen the final output.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

More testing: Panasonic “Post Focus”

January 28, 2019

A toy dragonfly was “photographed” at BoG Photo Studio using my new Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300 digital camera set for “Post Focus.” Two Sunpak LED-160 Video Lights were used to light the scene. 30 individual frames were extracted from the resulting MP4 video, and saved as TIF files; Adobe Photoshop was used to create the following focus-stacked composite image.

A plastic toy dragonfly.

The test shots featured in my last blog post, and this one, were taken in order to establish the proof of concept that Panasonic “Post Focus” can be used to quickly (well, everything is relative) create high quality focus-stacked composite images. After limited testing, I can say the process works fairly well.

The next test: Use a preserved specimen of a real adult dragonfly as the subject. Please stay tuned for my next blog post.

Copyright © 2019 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.


%d bloggers like this: