Photoshoot: Microscopy with Chris Thomas

After my wetplate session with Chris, he was kind enough to invite me to his home in Milton and try some microscopic photography first-hand. Last Tuesday I went over where Chris had already set up two microscopes. Now I am no expert when it comes to microscopes – in fact, far from it. I know it has lenses, it magnifies, I used one in biology lessons and some examples can be very, very expensive. From the two that were set up, it was immediately apparent that the build quality of the two were no where near comparable, but either would certainly do the job for a first introduction.



We started on the grey one on the left. The enlargement on it was a little less powerful, but still plenty to get some good detailed images of a butterfly wing. We simply set up a camera with a tripod and focused through one of the eyepieces. It’s a simple way to get a quick microscopy image, but you’ll have to trade for the fall-off on the sides – as you will never be able to cover the whole magnification – resulting in a round image.

microscopy - butterfly wing

The other microscope however, was a completely different story. Even though we would not have been able to set up my camera to the microscope on the fly, Chris has put together a few simple elements which allow for his DSLR to be mounted on the top. A flick of a switch and the light source travels either to the eye-pieces to the front, or the camera lens at the top of the set-up. Brilliant!


Now the fun could truly begin. We set about with a Allium sample, magnified 25 times on the objective, 5 times on the eyepiece. We took about 20-25 images in slightly varying focusing settings, to create an image stack later on. We then magnified it 40 times on the objective, moved on to a Tilia leaf on which we tried a polarising filter and a simple piece of plastic film (!) to create some unexpected effects. We finished up out session with my personal cheek cells. They look just like me, don’t you think? (I could have have a really nice pun there in the lines of ‘my spitting image’ but I won’t go there 😉

Thanks to Chris Thomas for a great afternoon and the image stacking files!

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