Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Measuring with the Microscope + Video Camera

I kept looking at the calibration slides for microscopes and finally decided to invest in one.


It has dots of various sizes and, most useful for me, in the centre is a circle which contains a cross 1 mm across with a scale marked every 1/10 mm and every 1/100 mm.

Snapshot Cal 150327_0003b   Snapshot Cal 150327_0000b

By taking snapshots of that with each objective lens I could work out the actual size of each shot.

Taking a piece of moss from a hanging basket:

DSCN4119   DSCN4120

Viewing it under my lowest magnification:

2015-03-27-12.46.08 ZS PMax

I now know from photographing the calibration slide that the photo is showing a 3.3mm view across with that objective lens.

Monday, 30 March 2015

Macro on Monday - Guess What



I thought last week's mystery photo would have been easier but my congratulations and the virtual Midmarsh Gold Star goes to Ragged Robin who said it was a stone plant. Also known as a living stone, Lithops.



Wilma did suggest stonecrop but when I looked that up it turned out to be a Sedum.

Hopefully this weeks cropped photo will be a bit easier to identify.
Guess What:

Please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed next Monday along with the answer.
No prizes, just for fun and possibly a virtual Midmarsh Gold or Silver Star.

Saturday, 28 March 2015

A Deer in the Churchyard

For a few days I could hear the sound of a chain saw coming from the area of the churchyard so we went walkabout in that direction. It looks as though some of the old trees shading the Church's East window had been trimmed to let more light through.

 SGW Image 3

As we wandered through the churchyard a new item caught my eye:


Of course madam had to give it the once over:


Yes, it looks like a little wooden deer. What a lovely decoration to have next to the seat where people can rest after tending the graves:



At the other end of the seat there has also appeared a little wooden dog watching the deer:


In the past I have caught a fleeting glimpse of a real deer in the churchyard but had no chance to photograph it. Since then I have been on the lookout for another opportunity and now my wish has come true!

Friday, 27 March 2015

Friday at the Flicks - Sun and Frogs


During the partial eclipse I attempted to take some video shots. This is the result, speeded up 20 times or it would have been even more boring as the eclipse is a slow process. As the camera was fixed in position I had to keep repositioning it when the Sun started to disappear out of its view:

Some video of various frogs in the garden pond:

Have a great weekend observing the wildlife around you.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Microscope - New Camera

While the old video cameras were working quite well they don't have great resolution, either 360 or 480 TVL (TV lines). Finding a replacement was quite difficult. Most video cameras seem to have built in IR lighting. Fine for surveillance but useless for my purpose. Eventually I found a German company selling a small basic camera with a resolution of 700 TVL. The 1/3 inch sensor has 976 x 582 pixels, low by modern standards but there is no point in going too high as the definition is also limited by the optics and the video grabber.

This is now fitted to the top of the microscope.


I had to fill in some gaps with hot melt glue. This holds it firmly in place and, importantly, makes an air tight seal to stop dust penetrating to the inside of the objective lenses or the camera sensor. Disappointingly the camera is not totally free from blemishes at low lighting conditions but much better than my old cameras.


The pictures look good on the small monitor I use. Unfortunately there is some degradation in capturing the photos on the MacBook. Next job will be to look around for a better quality video grabber.

A quick trial grabbing some photos of a corkscrew hazel catkin at minimum magnification.
The dish is 55mm across.



A couple of trials taking 20 or more focus stacked shots processed using Zerene Stacker.

2015-03-25-09.22.20 ZS PMax

2015-03-25-09.33.55 ZS PMax

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Moving House

When I first received the new camera nest box I put it up in a temporary location at the back of the Summerhouse. For a long while it was set up for Blue Tits.


Then a few of weeks ago I converted it so it was suitable for Robins and Wrens but I didn't see any signs of interest. It was probably too close to human traffic.

Now I have moved it, still as a Robin / Wren box, to the back of the shed where it is better sheltered.


It is on the same end as the Great Tit box but I haven't seen any activity in that one since the last brood.

I have also  moved a camera back to the right position for monitoring any visiting Hedgehogs as we must be near time for them to be awake after their Winter hibernation.

 Snapshot 150324_0008

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

Watching You Watching Me

Lots of frogs in the garden pond watching me photographing them:






Monday, 23 March 2015

Macro on Monday - Guess What



My congratulations and the virtual Midmarsh Gold Star go to TexWisGirl, Wilma, ImaBurdie and Adrian who all worked out the cropped photo was part of one of Penny's cuddly toys. 'Twas Sammy the Squirrel:

DSCN4024    DSCN4023

And so on to this week's mystery photo, again a crop.
Definitely not dead.
Guess What:

Please leave any guesses in the comments.
They will be revealed next Monday along with the answer.

No prizes, just for fun and maybe a virtual Midmarsh Gold or Silver Star.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

A Frog He Would a Wooing Go

I could hear a frog in the garden pond while I was photographing the eclipse last Friday and today sees the first activity:





There are several clumps of spawn. One batch was laid in a partly sunken pot which would dry out when the water level drops so I transferred it to the 'nursery' pond.

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Busy Bees and Variable Weather

It's no wonder the weather is a major topic of conversation in the UK.  Once the kerfuffle about the partial solar eclipse was over the afternoon turned out to be glorious for the time of year. Here anyway. Temperature up to 14C, wall to wall Sunshine and more importantly not a breath of cold wind to spoil things. It even got me in the mood for pottering outdoors. Cleaned the pond pump so that is now back to full flow. Grass trimmed for the first time this year.

I was not the only one busy in the garden. The catkins on the corkscrew hazel were attracting dozens of bees. Right little fidgets they are to capture close shots:



Bumble bees were not so active. I saw several on various Sunny PVC windows soaking up what heat they could find:


Last but not least my first sighting this year of a 7 spot ladybird:


Today is completely the opposite. Cloudy and dull all day with a biting Northerly wind which cuts right through you. Makes the 7C feel more like 0C.

Friday, 20 March 2015

Partial Solar Eclipse

When I got up at 6 a.m. things didn't look very good for photographing the partial solar eclipse. Mist and cloud. Fortunately most of that started to burn off and then my only anxiety was the timing of my visit to the local medical centre for some blood tests. I was booked in for an early appointment but there is always some delay. As it happened the delay today was about half an hour so by the time I arrived back home the eclipse was well under way. Almost reaching the maximum point.

There was still some thin cloud about and a direct view of the Sun didn't look very promising:


Anyway I set up the 70D on its sturdy tripod:


Fitted with my solar filter:

 DSCN4036    DSCN4037

Brilliant. The filter seemed to cut through the haze and cloud to give some reasonable photos.

Near maximum:


Maximum eclipse seen  from home in Lincolnshire:


Various shots as the shadow moved away from the Sun:




As for the effect in general, for me it was almost a non event. Light levels did get duller, the most noticeable was indoors in the North facing kitchen which was a lot darker. Outside though there was a noticeable drop in light levels it was still more than light enough to see everything better than on a dull Winter's day.

Finally the readings from my weather station:

Screenshot  eclipse

There is an obvious dip in light and UV levels about 9.30 a.m. locally
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