Our modern microscope objectives still look much the same as those
that were produced a century ago. In contrary, everything has radically
changed in photography.
Who among you would use the photographic equipment as shown below in
order to produce photomicrographs?
Small microscopic camera by Moeller, Germany (1890).
Illustration from W. Behrens: Leitfaden der botanischen Mikroskopie. Braunschweig 1890.
Please note the tripod magnifying glass for focus control on the frosted
glass screen and the lead counterweight cube.
The full weight of the equipment rests on the small tube of a small microscope.
Photographic camera by Neuhauss, Germany (1890).
Illustration taken from W. Behrens: Leitfaden der botanischen Mikroskopie. Braunschweig 1890.
Due to the considerable length of the construction the photographer
had to use a thread in order to handle the microscope focusing.
But there can be no doubt that e.g. the famous ant-photographer
Harald Doering took his fascinating photomicrographs by means of such an archaic equipment.
The photomicrographs of the pale diatom Amphipleura pellucida
by Henry van Heurck in 1890 are unsurpassed in resolution even today.
We have difficulties sometimes today when trying to reach the same image quality
with our hyper-modern digital equipment.
It is correct that the photography through a microscope has become easier.
But, honestly, who is willing today to sit three days behind the microscope
in order to wait for the moment when a tardigrade baby will
come out of its egg?
It is not alway easy to follow microscopic
events over time ...
Today nobody has enough time for such a procedure: most of us
have to delete hundred spam mails per week, have to read the daily and
weekly newspapers and special interest magazines, have to watch
television, do sports, check childrens' homework, take part in many social
One way out of this continuous lack of time is automatic time-lapse photography.
Most modern ccd cameras in principal can be controlled by personal computers
and have the automatically taken photographs copied to hard disk immediately.
On the other hand it is a sad fact that the software bundled with the cameras mostly has the
"nice album of my dog" intellectual level only. At this point the internet
will usually offer some help.
But please be aware of the fact that
there is always some risk of fire when leaving electrical equipment,
in particular power supplies, lamps and computer CRTs unattended.
It is much more safe to use low-voltage LED illumination, to turn off
the monitor and to avoid those "tiny & always hot" power supplies.
We have used a freeware camera control program by Pinetreecomputing.
The program controls an Olympus consumer ccd camera and takes a photograph
every 30 seconds. This doesn't sound to be very much, but when
calculating you will find out that 2880 photographs will be taken
in 24 hours. The still images can be re-combined to an accelerated movie:
Echiniscus tardigrades, ready for hatching (video clip).
Speed of film increased by a factor of 150.
Obviously the echinisci remain in a rather constant orientation within
their eggs. Mouth tube and stylets look as if they were fixed
to the wall of the eggs.
Reduced image quality due to subdued light an big water volume
in the micro aquarium.
In the next issue we will show two further "time-lapse" video
clips documenting the next steps in hatching.
Hermann Schoepf: Das Mikrofoto. Düsseldorf 1957.
(In this remarkable book, p. 101, we can find a portrait of the German photographer
Harald Doering, dressed in suit with tie, with thick spectacle glasses,
sitting in front of an impressive optical bank with lots of technical
devices. In the background there is a poster size photomicrograph
made by him showing an encounter of two ants, very similar to a modern silicon
world computer simulation - but obviously showing pure reality.)
William B. Carpenter: The Microscope and its Revelations. 7th ed.,
(On table X there is a photograph by Dr. Roderich Zeiss
showing the diatom Pleurosigma angulatum in a resolution which has not
been equalled since, and on table XI a further photomicrograph by Dr. Henri van Heurck
representing the diatom Amphipleura pellucida .
The latter photomicrograph was
taken by means of a Zeiss objective with a 1.6 (!) numerical aperture and it
resolves this tiny diatom not only down to its lines but to its dots.)
© Text, images and video clips by
Martin Mach (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Water Bear web base is a licensed and revised version of
the German language monthly magazine Bärtierchen-Journal .
Style and grammar amendments by native speakers are warmly welcomed.