A view through the microscope

Every Monday through this term brings the exciting prospect of being supported and taught by Tom Hartman. This area of photography is looking down the microscope and recording what can be seen. This opens up the world of small and microscopic creatures, that can’t other wise be seen with the naked eye.

A spring tail hugging a water droplet

Then with the wonderful lens attachments that both Nikon and Canon have designed fit into the eyepiece holder, or a special camera holder onto the microscope and the weird and wonderful species can be photographed, and revealed to the world.


jelly fish
An ancient preserved jelly fish

The first task in all of this was how to correctly set up a microscope, as there are lots of different knobs, buttons, valves, slider and screws that need to calibrated and aligned. Once this is achieved, so that both the lenses of the microscope and the condenser (the light emitting part) are aligned, then the microscope is ready for a sample to be placed underneath and viewed.


A small piece of plant matter amongst the soup of pond wildlife

To start with we were looking at everyday objects like, paper and other things like layers of onion. This was just to master the basics of focussing the microscope and looking at the different options from bright field to dark field.


noctiluca - protozoa
A protozoan – noctiluca, photographed down a microscope using phase contrast

But every Monday as we get better at understanding and using the microscopes we have started looking at more complex and wonderful things, from soil samples/ leaf litter to small pond creatures.

A green algae growing amongst other things 
Small Eggs found from a soil sample whilst completing a worm survey

We have taken samples from around the university campus from places such as decaying leaf matter. These leaves were then places under a warm lamp and in a funnel to push any potential organisms down and into the small pot underneath ready to be viewed through the microscope.

The above images show how we set up this system to push any living organisms down into the water sample, from a random collection of leaves from around the University of Nottingham Campus.

We also had a visit from one of the leaders in microscope technology at Keyence. As part of the visit they showed us how their latest microscope works and is all very fancy and technical. However as amazing as the machine was we were not aloud to have a go, but the sample images produced can be seen here.

The view that the Keyence microscope can give you with the technical detail it can offer

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