Composite Imaging
Smithsonian Institution - 1995
Hopperia hexadentata n.sp.
Nematode dissection s– Spiculum & gubernaculum with associated glandular tissue of the holotype
Scale = 20 microns
Medium: Adobe Photoshop, version 2.0
Size of the original is approximately 8.5x11 inches at 300ppi.

One of the primary problems that has faced individuals attempting to take photographic images of microscopic specimens is a depth of field issue. The higher you magnify an object under a microscope, and the thicker it is, the less depth of field you have. Which means when you are focused on a particular detail, everything else may be out of focus. This has made it very difficult to photograph specimens using microscopy. With the advent of applications such Photoshop, one could take multiple images of a specimen at different focal planes, isolate the portions that were in focus and then composite the edited images, such as I have laboriously done with the fourteen small images shown into this enhanced image over a period of about 35 hours.

In 1995 the technology we have today was unheard of or just a dream for most of us. Now we have digital imaging hardware and software that is affordable. That is if you can accept 20-50 K or more as affordable. Though whether you do or not, the technology is available today in the form of Visionary Digital's BK Plus Lab and portable Systems. These offer the ability to photograph multiple images at high resolution, multiple focal planes and then analyze and isolate the portions of the image that are in focus all automatically. With the result being a composite image of the separate images into a single high resolution image where everything is in focus.

Depending upon the number of images required to accomplish this, a specimen could be done in ten to fifteen minutes, maybe less depending upon the system being used, the preparation of the specimen, the person doing the imaging, and how skilled they were. Which are all factors no matter how the specimen is imaged. So the difference in the amount of cost per image today with an even better result is well worth considering. If one has a large amount of this type of imaging to be done, the cost of equipment would be negligible compared to the time and money saved in getting the work done and using the time saved for other things that need to be done.