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Daniel Stoupin
Photography through the microscope
Photography through the microscope

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Image: zoanthids up close under spectrum of light imitating ambient conditions at 15 meters. Focus stack.

Unrelated story:

As I enter a bus near the university yesterday I notice that the bus is decorated with familiar photos inside. Greenpeace put my corallimorph shot on 200 buses in Brisbane and about the same number in Melbourne for their campaign. It gave me quite an interesting experience of listening to what people actually think of my photography when they don't know I am sitting right next to them.

Colourful ad attracts attention and a group students who jumped into the bus right after me couldn't resist making fun out of Greenpeace, which is admittedly not a very popular organization among scientific communities. Their jokes quickly start targeting that innocent corallimorph. Fakest coral image I've ever seen! Photoshopped! Colour graded! Painted!

I didn't even hide my smile - exactly the same things that I've heard being said about "Slow Life" when it came out. In fact, I actually remember that a few days after the clip's release I was in a bus and listening conversation of UQ students making fun of its colours as well.

The funniest part is that I did touch colours in that corallimorph. Shame on me? Well, I did not saturate the colours, change hues, etc. I actually desaturated the image by ~30%. That corallimorph was so strikingly colourful with its fluorescent pigmentation that it was rendered very poorly by camera's sensor. And I admit that I hate oversaturated images! The only "crime" of that corallimorph was having colours people are not used to (you would need a magnifying glass and no artificial sources of light for the sight). The only crime of the photographer was making the image desaturated to make it look more real, to compensate the fact that most people don't calibrate their screens and boost colour saturation to horrible extremes anyway. 

So if you look at this zoanthid and want to tell me that its colours are "graded," "photoshopped," "created to visualize stimulate dumb tasteless kids" - go and blame zoanthids and all other corals for being such surreally spectacular creatures.

#hqspmacro +HQSP Macro curated by +Terrie Gray +Stefanie Schächtel +Igor Schevchenko +Peter Marbaise +Evi Verstraeten
#Macro4All  by +Bill Urwin, +Thomas Kirchen,   +Walter Soestbergen (+Macro4All )

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Corals, despite their colorful and sometimes cartoonish appearance, are fierce predators. At night they open up, extend their tentacles, and start munching on anything that they can digest. Which is mostly plankton, but they are also intolerant towards neighbors and wouldn't hesitate spitting some deadly guts on members of other coral species.

This one is Scolymia sp.

#hqspmacro +HQSP Macro  curated by  +Terrie Gray  +Robert Vierthaler  +Albert Vuvu Konde  +Stefanie Schächtel 

#Macro4All  by, +Thomas Kirchen,   +Walter Soestbergen  (+Macro4All )

#macro #macrophotography #focusstacking #fluorescence #underwater   #supermacro #ultramacro #fineart  

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This amazing rainbow lobophyllia coral reminds me of how important it is to be aware of fluorescence underwater. Fluorescence transforms wavelength of light instead of just absorbing and reflecting it. Under white light from torches and strobes this coral would be brown. Under ambient light or imitated underwater spectrum it turns into rainbow explosion!

When you are underwater and have a torch, try turning the light on and off when looking and random creatures and see the difference yourself. Doesn't work on sea star and sea cucumbers, this trick is more relevant to hard and soft corals.

I can't stop looking at 45x30 inch print of this animal and finding new details up close.

#sciencesunday (+ScienceSunday +Robby Bowles +Allison Sekuler +Rajini Rao +Chad Haney +Buddhini Samarasinghe +Aubrey Francisco +Carissa Braun )

#scienceeveryday #macro4all (by +Bill Urwin, +Thomas Kirchen,   +Walter Soestbergen (+Macro4All ))

#hqspmacro +HQSP Macro curated by  +Terrie Gray +Robert Vierthaler +Albert Vuvu Konde +Stefanie Schächtel

#macromaniacs for +MacroManiacs and +Sandra Deichmann

#BTPMacroPro - +BTP Macro Pro . owned by +Rinus Bakker ,curated by +Karsten Pohlmann

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An alveopora coral is beautiful up close. The image is a focus stack. Fluorescent colors are natural and become apparent under ambient underwater light at depth of 5m or more.

#hqspmacro +HQSP Macro curated by  +Terrie Gray +Robert Vierthaler +Albert Vuvu Konde +Stefanie Schächtel

#Macro4All  by +Bill Urwin, +Thomas Kirchen,   +Walter Soestbergen (+Macro4All )

#macro #macrophotography #focusstacking #fluorescence #underwater  

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As colorful, bizarre-looking, and environmentally important as we know corals and sponges are, their simple day-to-day life is hidden. They might not seem exciting when it comes to motion. However, their speeds simply happen to be out of sync with our narrow perception. This clip shows them from an unusual perspective: high magnification, focus stacking, and full-spectrum illumination that brought out fluorescent colors.

Learn more about what you see in my post:

To make this little clip I took 150000 shots. Why so many? Because macro photography involves shallow depth of field. To extend it, I used focus stacking. Each frame of the video is actually a stack that consists of 3-12 shots where in-focus areas are merged. Just the intro and last scene are regular real-time footage. One frame required about 10 minutes of processing time (raw conversion + stacking). Unfortunately, the success rate was very low due to copious technical challenges and I spent almost 9 long months just to learn how to make these kinds of videos and understand how to work with these delicate creatures.

Enjoy on a big screen to be able to see individual cells in sponges and tiny details in corals. Available in 4k.


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Rhodactis corallimorph under full-spectrum lights to imitate the natural underwater illumination and bring up fluorescent pigmentation.

This is a focus stack that took me several hours to get right as the animal moves a lot. As a result of the stacking process I was also able to create a stereo image, which allows to understand the shape of the invertebrate better.
stereo image in various formats for nvidia 3d owners

#3d   #stereoscopic #3dphoto
#macro4all (+Macro4All +Bill Urwin +Chris Levers  +Mark O'Callaghan  +Walter Soestbergen  )
#underwaterphotography     #underwaterthursday  (+Underwater Thursday  +Kjetil Greger Pedersen +Snekker Anders +Beat Gretler  +Terrie Gray  +Dirk Vietzke    +Scotty Graham  )
#macro     #macrophotography
#macromaniacs   for +MacroManiacs  and +Sandra Deichmann
#hqspmacro   +HQSP Macro curated by +Chandro Ji +Terrie Gray          +Dorothy Pugh +Sandrine Berjonneau +HQSP Macro
#btpmacropro   +BTP Macro Pro  +Chandro Ji  +Janet Clark  +Magnus Ericson  +Best Top Photographer Group

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Some pond animals might not look attractive at first glance. The majority of people who encounter a bryozoa colony most likely wouldn't recognize what it is. A hairy warm? A weird hydrozoa? After all, even the mention of words "bryozoa"and "moss animals" alone provokes only one question—"what the heck is that?" The truth is, molecular taxonomists have more or less the same question when approaching this group.

Bryozoa are among the least studied invertebrates. According to phylogeny analysis they are not relatives of cnidaria or, in fact, any known group of invertebrates. Some evidence suggests that they might be related to even less studied group of organisms—Entoprocta. But leaving phylogenetic and taxonomic speculations aside, bryozoa are colonial filter-feeding animals that are really abundant in freshwater and marine habitats. Their polyps are tiny and almost invisible to the naked eyes. Yet their colonies can reach up to several meters is size, although such giants are rare.

The animal on the picture is a very unique organism Cristatella mucedo. Not only it's notorious for forming mobile colonies that crawl like snails, it also has a very peculiar body organization where individual zooids are differentiated like cells in a multicellular organism. Zooids can participate in feeding, locomotion, or breeding.

You are welcome to see more pictures and find a bit more info about this fascinating creature in my blog post:

+ScienceSunday  (+Robby Bowles  +Allison Sekuler  +Rajini Rao  +Chad Haney  +Buddhini Samarasinghe  )
 (+Macro4All   +Bill Urwin  +Chris Levers +Mark O'Callaghan  +Walter Soestbergen  )
#sciencesunday #macro4all  

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An incredibly colorful coral. A stereoscopic image available here: (cross-eye version) (various 3d formats for 3d screens). So amazing to see how corals increase their surface area in this way.

The image taken under full-spectrum light to bring out fluorescence that is left out when illuminating them with strobes.

+Underwater Thursday (+Kjetil Greger Pedersen +Snekker Anders +Beat Gretler +Terrie Gray +Dirk Vietzke +Scotty Graham ) #underwaterthursday #underwaterphotography #3d #3dphoto #stereoscopic #macro4all  
(+Macro4All +Bill Urwin  +Chris Levers +Mark O'Callaghan +Walter Soestbergen )

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I love coral macro. But the more I've been doing it, the more I realized how much I miss the perception of volume and depth on still images. That's why I decided to try 3d photography. Stereoscopic photography, to be more precise, which is quite easy to do with focus stacking.

A focus stack is an image composed out of photos taken at different focus distances to increase the depth of field. Each photo has in-focus and out-of-focus parts. That means that technically a set of images will have three-dimensional information. Stacking software can recognize the in-focus parts (X,Y coordinates) and normally it copies them to the images where the corresponding  areas are out of focus. So, Z axis here corresponds to different images in a stack, each one having different in-focus X,Y. However, while the stacking process occurs, the software can also offset the in-focus layers for a certain distance. Instead of putting the next in-focus layer at exactly the same location where it was on the previous image, the layer is, for example, shifted 5 pixels to the right or left. As a result, an offset will make the stacked object appear to be photographed from a different angle. 

Unfortunately, though, stereoscopic screens are not very common yet. The good news is that glass-free display are on their way. A few smartphones have been available for a while, and this year has brought 3 or 4 tablets that show a 3d image without glasses at any angle. And this technology is advancing fast. For example, the mentioned tablets are just a hundred dollars more expensive than their regular alternatives. I believe in 5 years or so most of laptops will have a stereoscopic screen and stereo photography will take more visible position. For now, it's just a gimmick, but one that allows to experience images in the way that they are meant to be seen with our brains that are designed to work in stereoscopic format.

If you happen to have a 3d display of any kind, you are welcome to take a look at my new 3d gallery here:
If you don't you still can use such poor method as anaglyph or, in the worst case, wiggle.

The animation below is a macro of an acropora coral made out of a single stack. Sorry for some artifacts around the closest branch--I didn't have enough time to clean everything. Such issues do not appear in stereoscopic images.

+ScienceSunday (+Robby Bowles +Allison Sekuler +Rajini Rao +Chad Haney +Buddhini Samarasinghe )
#macro4all   #underwaterphotography  
#macro4all  (+Macro4All  +Bill Urwin +Chris Levers +Mark O'Callaghan +Walter Soestbergen ) #3d  
Animated Photo

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Acanthastra lordhowensis under some magnification. This is an incredibly detailed image. You can see a close-up of this photo here: to get an idea of how much details can be seen on this image in full resolution.

For those who know how to see cross-eye stereos, it's available in 3d:
If you have a 3d display (either requiring glasses or glass-free), follow this link:

Canon 5d mark iii, mp-e 65mm, focus stack

#3d   #stereo   #plusphotoextract   #3dphoto  
#macro4all  (+Macro4All +Bill Urwin +Chris Levers +Mark O'Callaghan +Walter Soestbergen )
#underwaterphotography   #underwaterthursday  (+Underwater Thursday +Kjetil Greger Pedersen +Snekker Anders +Beat Gretler +Terrie Gray +Dirk Vietzke +Shaun Doyle +Scotty Graham )
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