by Patrice Grilli
November 13, 2017
Aphaenogaster senilis : Single shot, manual mode, 100mm - f/8 - 1/10’’ - ISO 1250 - magnification 1:1
My name is Patrice GRILLI, I’m 40yo, I live in the south of the France. I’m a chess teacher, and semi pro photographer (waterski, pack-shots, landscape) since 20 years (since 2001 with DSLR).
I love science, Hi-Tech, Harley-Davidson, and animals … especially arthropods, that’s why I’ve decided to specialize myself in macrophotography (as an ant keeper, I have a lot of specimen of different species). With my photos, I would like to show all the beauty and complexity of insects so that people stop crushing them and start thinking…
Aphaenogaster subterranea (< 1mm) : Stacking of 48 pictures (7 slabs) - 20 µm/step - manual mode - 65mm - f/4 - 0,3” - ISO 100 - magnification 5:1 + Canon EF 25 II Zerene : PMax
The technique I use is focus stacking* (with sub-stacks*), the best way for me to get a wide depth of field. I have chosen for this, gear from the American brand Cognisys. This material allows me, passing by the computer, to control several axes (X for right and left, Y for up and down and Z for the depth of field + 2 rotary tables : one for the specimen and one to tilt the DSLR). The accuracy is about one or two microns.
Camponotus singularis 01 : Stacking of 95 pictures (14 slabs) - 250 µm/step - manual mode - 100mm - f/5.6 - 1/10” - ISO 100 - magnification 1:1 Zerene : PMax + DMap
My DSLR is a Canon (5D MK IV since last year) and the lenses I use for the macrophotography are the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS USM and obviously the fabulous MP-E 65mm f/2.8 1-5X Macro Photo.
Camponotus singularis 02 : Stacking of 66 pictures (10 slabs) - 115 µm/step - manual mode - 65mm - f/5.6 - 0.4” - ISO 100 - magnification 2.5:1 Zerene : PMax + DMap
For illumination I have made a very efficient, versatile (I also use it for packshot), and powerful lightbox: 20000 lm @ 5600K. Sometime, when magnification is over x5, I also use Macro Twin Lite MT-24EX. Every parts of my gear is accurately fixed and aligned on a Thorlabs breadboard. Everything is strongly fixed but can easily slide or be removed or rearranged. It’s flexible. My softwares are ZereneStacker and Bugslabber for stacking, LightRoom and Photoshop for post treatment.
Camponotus singularis 03 : Stacking of 124 pictures (18 slabs) - 200 µm/step - manual mode - 65mm - f/5.6 - 1/4” - ISO 100 - magnification 1:1 Zerene : PMax + DMap
Camponotus sp : Stacking of 186 pictures (27 slabs) - 15 µm/step - manual mode - 65mm - f/4.5 - 0.4” - ISO 100 - magnification 5:1 Zerene : PMax + DMap
I shoot alive, dead, and narcotized insects, in studio or in field … but I really prefer in studio, at home, with my big macro bench (as a tetraplegic, in field is difficult for me).
Diacamma rugosum : Stacking of 63 pictures (9 slabs) - 250 µm/step - manual mode - 100mm - f/5.6 - 1/15” - ISO 100 - magnification 1:1 Zerene : PMax + DMap
Shooting alive or dead insects are two things completely different … The difficulty to success to take a good macro picture with an alive arthropod is obvious (especially with flying or jumping insects) … but for many different reasons, getting a very good picture of a dead bug is equaly difficult. It’s a long staging (background and mounting : restoring, cleaning, drying, relaxing, spreading, pinning/stilling insect), a long shooting session, and a very long post treatment. We have to give the illusion the insect is alive, in its element, or at least has a natural position.
Halyomorpha halys : Stacking of 93 pictures (13 slabs) - 200 µm/step - manual mode - 100mm - f/5.6 - 1/15” - ISO 100 - magnification 1:1 Zerene : PMax + DMap
The two most difficult points to manage, with dead insects, are convulsive pose and dust. And the most important is the light and the way to illuminate the specimen and depending of the case, the background.
Nephrotoma sp (Tipulidae) : Stacking of 185 pictures (40 slabs) - 10 µm/step - manual mode - 65mm - f/4 - 1/4” - ISO 100 - magnification 5:1 Zerene : PMax
Once the insect is prepared, staged, shooted, and the pictures are substacked, we have the third post treatment (the first post treatment is just after the shooting, before the substacking, the second is after the substacking, on each slab) : a few hours in zerene to use every slabs to correct the final stack, in Lightroom and Photoshop to manage the light, refind details and colors lost with stackings, remove the halos caused by stackings, remove the last dust particles, clean each hair one by one. Now, the picture is good to be shown !
Polistes dominulus : Stacking of 162 pictures (23 slabs) - 150 µm/step - manual mode - 65mm - f/5 - 1/15” - ISO 100 - magnification 1:1 Zerene : PMax
Salticidae : Stacking of 249 pictures (36 slabs) - 20 µm/step - manual mode - 65mm - f/5.6 - 0.4” - ISO 100 magnification 5:1 Zerene : PMax
Vespula germanica: Stacking of 114 pictures (16 slabs) - 40 µm/step - manual mode - 65mm - f/5.6 - 0.4” - ISO 100 - magnification 3:1 Zerene : PMax + DMap
*Focus stacking : Several pictures are taken at different focus and each sharpen parts of every pics are assembled into a final picture entirely sharp. This is done to increase the particularly ridiculous depth of field at high magnification *Sub-stacks/slabs are a division of a large stack into several small stacks wich simplify post-treatment in zerene.
Patrice Grilli is a chess teacher and semi-professional nature photographer living in south of France who loves to photograph insects. I would like to show all the beauty and complexity of insects so that people stop crushing them and start thinking… He uses Canon equipment and focus stacking to achieve a great depth of field.
Flick’r : https://www.flickr.com/photos/147411164@N08/albums
More photos: https://www.flickr.com/photos/147411164@N08/albums
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