The making of the photos

People often ask me how I make the photos, so here is a short explanation.

I have a Canon 90D camera, the main reason for using it being the fact that it has 32.5 megapixels, which is the first advantage for taking high-resolution pictures. Then I have 3 lenses: the Canon 60 mm 1:1 macro for thumbnails above 1 cm; the Laowa 100 mm 2:1 macro for objects from approximately 3 tot 10 mm, and the Laowa 25 mm 2.5/5:1 ultramacro for smaller objects. To handle even the smallest objects I also have extension rings up to 126 mm. Ultimately I can handle objects as small as 0,15 mm this way. 

But of course that is only possible through stacking: the whole thing (camera + lens + ext rings) is mounted on a WeMacro stack rail, that itself is attached as firmly as possible to the workbench - which is necessary to avoid any vibrations while taking pictures. The stack rail allows taking frames with a distance of 1 up to 1000 micron (1/1000 mm). Depending on the object I normally take between 50 and 150 frames at a distance between 6 and 30 micron - which you have to try out for every new object. 

My experience has taught me an important principle, that I try to practice every time: the higher the shutter speed, the less vibration and the sharper the photo will turn out to be. I prefer an aperture that is mostly F 4, sometimes F 5.6, and seldom F 8 - and F 8 only when the depth in the object is viable to halo-formation. The combination of high shutter speed (preferably somewhere between 1/10 and 1/80 sec) and aperture F 4 often means that the ISO has to be set to 500 or 640, sometimes even higher. In older equipment that would inevitably result in a high amount of disturbing noise in the photo, but with nowadays cameras that doesn't play a significant role anymore.

The lighting is essential. Light sources should be diffuse, preferably simulating daylight conditions, i.e. around 5500 Kelvin. To achieve that I use a soft box and the ring light as shown above. Both are adjustable to the specific needs for every sample. 

The whole process is computer controlled by Helicon Remote: I decide on the presets, the computer does the work. The resulting stack of frames is rendered into one photo by Helicon Focus, and after that I do the post-processing through Lightroom, Photoshop Express and Photoshop Camera - which is handy work with my Apple pencil on the iPad. When I'm satisfied I save the photo and publish it, if not I simply dispose it and start again.