Photographing water fleas
When you photograph water fleas, mosquito larvae, diaptomus, cyclops, and other fresh water plankton, a whole new world of color and composition will be revealed to you, one you could never imagine.
Photo upper left: Three water fleas. Because they are transparent, you can see eggs in one, those little green balls. The eggs already hatched by the water flea on the right, her egg tube is also a little longer. The waterflea on the left has no eggs visible. The tree smaller creatures at the top are cyclops crustaceans.
Photo upper right: Here you can see the eggs even more clearly. I think the blue things are organs.
Photo left: This looks like the ocean in the time of the dinosaurs, only in miniature.
So, how do you photography them? From micrography (photographing with a microscope), we know the term “dark field lighting” and this is the first trick we’ll use. By this we mean lighting that comes from the sides and slightly behind your subject, such that light doesn’t enter your lens directly. This creates your black background.
Explanation of the photo on the left:
1 Panel covered with black felt. This is mounted on a base and is not connected to the camera, so it can move back and forth.
2 The flash units from the Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX, mounted on two strips of aluminum. Adjust the flashes to -3 stops to maintain the black background.
3 A piece of black cardboard to ensure that no light falls directly into the lens.
4 The “Micro-Aquarium”, attached to an adjustable clamp. (See the photo below left).
5 The MP-E 65mm 1/2,8 1-5x macro lens.
6 The focusing rail.
7 Wireless cable release.
8 The ring where the flash units are normally mounted.
9 Jar of clean water with several water fleas.
10 Pipette or injection syringe with a large needle to move the water fleas to the “micro aquarium”.
11 A good reference book to help identify the various photo subjects.
At this level of enlargement, there is very little depth of field, (see Oktober 2012) so it is extremely important that your subjects can not swim in and out of focus. The solution is our micro-aquarium. This is easy to make with two pieces of thin glass and a piece of rubber from an inner tube, for example. Cut the rubber to the same size as your glass, and then cut out a U shaped rectangle. You then clamp the rubber between the two pieces of glass. To ensure it is water tight, you can coat the rubber with a thin film of Vaseline.
Now you can use your pipette or injection needle to place several water fleas into the aquarium. Using clean water will minimize the amount of touch-up required in Photoshop. Check out the photo below.
Drag the dividing line back and forth to see the image before and after retouching in Photoshop