Here are a few Pelecotheca (Cryptocladocera) sp. stacks. The technique involves taking about 30 photos, each at a different focal point in the specimen and using a macro-rail to slowly move the camera backwards or forwards. The focused parts of each photo are then combined using software called Zerene Stacker (Pmax setting) to make the final image, which looks as though it has an incredibly deep depth of focus – something that would be impossible with normal photography.
The photos were taken using a refurbished 10 megapixel Canon 1000D; Nikkor EL 50mm f2.8 lens reversed on cheap bellows; Yongnuo YN560 flash offset to the right and run on half power. The specimen is enclosed inside a polystyrene cup and the lens has a cardboard lens hood to reduce flare. The photos have been taken at approximately 1.5x life-size on the sensor. This technique and equipment has been used under the guidance of several members on the excellent photomacrography.net forum!
This fly is the male of the species and it can be assumed that the many-branched, hairy (multifissicorn) antennae must be used to locate the females but little is known of their ecology and even the hosts are unknown. They seem to occur throughout northern South America (the Guianas, Brazil & Peru) and belong to a tribe called the Neominthoini, which includes many genera of flies with strong bristles on the facial ridges and quite distinctive genitalia.
These are 3 shots of an Oestrophasia sp. from Brazil – the exposure is slightly off but getting the lighting correct is always the biggest problem in stacking. PhotoShop has made them look passable at least.
A Prosena siberita, showing the plumose arista and long proboscis:
Here are a few shots of the latest stacking setup:
Everything sits on a sticky, yellow, rubber mat that people use to hold rugs down on laminate flooring … the specimen is pinned inside a polystyrene cup which acts as both a diffuser for the flash and reflector which bounces the light around from all directions onto the specimen. A black paper tube has been wrapped around the lens to act as a long lens hood to reduce flare. The rail is hand-cranked in the smallest increments that I can manage with my clumsy fingers and the camera is triggered using a cheap remote shutter release. The JPG images are downloaded immediately onto a PC using the free Canon EOS Utility software and then post-processed in Zerene and PhotoShop