olympus microscope

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Watching Embryos Develop From Earliest Moments

Using new microscopy techniques, researchers are getting to watch life develop from the beginning. The gifs above were created from work being done at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Scientists William Lemon, Fernando Amat and Philipp Keller recorded the developing embryo of a fly called Drosophila melanogaster three hours after it was laid as an egg until it started crawling.

To view the fitful movements that occur in the embryo as early nonspecific cells transform into specialized ones and systems develop, they attached fluorescent compounds that glow under certain light to proteins in the nucleus of the its cells. They then trained a device called a simultaneous multiview light-sheet microscope onto the developing organism to follow the action, and took a picture every 30 seconds over the course of a day.

Their work, published last year in the journal Nature Methods, investigated the tracking and development of nuclei to understand where cells start and where they wind up. Understanding this evolution is one of the main goals of developmental biology. 

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Close Range Peacock Feather Photography Reveals a World Of Luminescent Colors Under The Microscope

Photographer Waldo Nell resorts to using an Olympus BX 53 microscope to document the extraordinary details of radiant pigments of peacock feathers. Hundreds of shots were merged together of one of the most loveliest natural feathers on the planet, to conjure the single stunning image in a method called photo stacking.

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Magnified Peacock Feathers Look Like Pure Woven Magic

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PEACOCKS ARE RENOWNED for their beauty. But to truly appreciate them, take a look at Waldo Nell’s photographs.

His images show the feathers magnified up to 500 times what you would see. Every line and curve appears in luminous definition, the colors shifting from green to blue to gold. “From afar you only see the pattern of the eye,” Nellsays. “From up close you can see the bundles of barbules and coloration unique to each segment. There is a lot of beauty hidden that you can only see up close.”

The South African photographer began shooting peacock feathers three years ago after seeing a photo of one and wondering what such remarkable feathers might look like through a microscope. He started buying plumes from his local craft store, cutting them into strips, and peering at them through a Canon Rebel T3i mounted on an Olympus BX53 microscope. Depending upon the level of magnification, he illuminated them from the sides with LEDs or from above with an X-Cite 120. “The barbules are highly reflective due to the iridescence, so getting lighting just right is very hard,” he says.

Nell took hundreds of photographs, shooting at different depths of field to get a perfectly crisp image. Then he then exported them all into Helicon Focus, a post-production software, to stack them. Then he spent hours adjusting the color and contrast and making other tweaks. The resulting photographs are a composite of 50 to 250 images.

You would think Nell loves peacocks. But he says the project grew from his fascination with the unseen world around us. “I basically put anything I think has potential under the microscope—some things pan out, others [don’t],” he says. “Peacock feathers were an awesome find.”

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Scientific Photo II Assignment 2: Brightfield Photomicrographs in Monochrome

Rochester, NY

Canon 5D Mark III, Olympus Microscope, 10x Objective

The objective of this assignment was to give us an idea of how different wavelengths of light affect our resolution when imaging under a microscope. In theory, the shorter the wavelength the better resolution we should be able to achieve. However, this is not apparent when using a DSLR’s CMOS sensor. This kind of sensor uses red, green, and blue channels in order to create an image. Out of the three, the blue channel (shorter wavelengths) has the worst resolution and signal-to-noise ratio, while the green channel has the best. This is what accounts for the shorter wavelengths poor performance in this resolution testing assignment, at least, this is my theory for the reason why.

1. Full color

2. Full color BW converted

3. Red filter

4. Green filter

5. Blue filter