Monday, 8 August 2011

Water fleas and polarized light

Polyphemus pediculus, darkfiled illumination, 20x lens, water film on the object making it look wet

  Since most of microscopic creatures are transparent, various sophisticated systems are integrated into modern microscopes to make things visible. Recently I tried different polarization techniques and got some very spectacular pictures.

  Basically polarized light microscopy involves polarization of light, as it is easy to guess. The polarized light gets through the object and then it meets another polarizer (analyzer) that is turned 90 degrees against the first one... DIC is, by the way, also a technique involving polarization

  At first I was disappointed with water fleas and in bright filed I got this

  But when I started playing around with various settings, rotating polarizers, applying darkfield illumination, and torturing the microscope in all possible ways. I finally got all those cool effects I often see in modern photomicrography examples.

  Basically, below I'll showing the same flea (Polyphemus pediculus) visible with various contrasting techniques, most of which are not correctly applied due to the lack of essential components. The animal itself is very interesting, I never realized this species of flea despite its weird hunchback appearance can look so cool.

 You might notice the fibrillar structure (muscles) in the legs, and some muscles rotating the eye.

And, finally, darkfield illumination. Basically, it's a way of object's illumination where you don't see the light coming directly from the lamp.

This one was taken under 20x and stacked out of 30 images... not sure what went wrong and why the quality got worse though.

  Just take a look into the eye of the flea, it's so amazing.

Eye of a water flea

 At first I was wondering why this flea is so... naturally deformed, but then I realized it's a species of flea I already took picture of. When they have babies, their bodies change and they start looking more streamline and not associating with something deformed.

  It was the first flea from this post.

  All pictures taken with Sony NEX5 through Zeiss axiostar A1

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