Living With Computer Photography

A news feature on insect photography by Francis Prior or Great Britain caught my eye for the stunning photographs. Insects are small and difficult to photograph. Photographic lenses offer a tradeoff between magnification and depth of field. It is difficult at high magnification to get important features in focus. For decades, photographers have lived with this problem. However, computer processing of digital images provides a fix.

“Stacking” involves taking sequential photographs of a specimen, with the focus of the camera in a deeper plane of focus in each subsequent image. A number of computer software programs are available that will process the images and use only those portions of each image that are in focus to produce a composite image in which all details are in focus. There is some debate about post processing of imaging and the possibility of people manipulating images in ways that give a false impression of reality. Purists object. There is a growing consensus that raw images themselves can be misleading and that digital processing, if transparent, can better convey digital information.

Prior uses a software called Zerene Stacker to produce images like the one below. A full set of his digital images are available here.

Shield Bug Head

Stacked Photo of Shield Bug Head
Image: Francis Prior

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
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