Pollen Tubes on Azalea Anther (100X 100 frame stack)

Using Helicon Focus for Microphotography (Podcast 742)

In this post, I share how I'm using Helicon Remote and Helicon Focus to create focus-stacked images in my recent adventure into microphotography.

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Martin Bailey
Martin Bailey is a nature and wildlife photographer and educator based in Tokyo. He's a pioneering Podcaster and blogger, and an X-Rite Coloratti member.
  • J D Ramsey
    Posted at 10:43h, 12 June Reply

    Martin – I just took a look at your portfolio of microphotography photographs. Wow! Awesome. Amazing how many different abstracts can be derived out of citric acid crystals. The Hummingbird crystal photo is truly unbelievable. As a child of the 60s some of this reminds me of being on an LSD trip. Not that I was every on one, mind you.

    Great work!


    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 09:00h, 19 June Reply

      Wow! Thanks David! I’m pleased you enjoyed that work. I developed a hernia in my neck through too much computer work, and probably looking into the microscope. That, along with going down periscope to work on a new Photoshop plugin that is now almost done, meant that I haven’t done any more of this for the last three week’s or so, but I’m looking forward to getting back to it very soon.

  • Rich Ball
    Posted at 09:13h, 27 June Reply

    Martin – I’m enjoying your journey into the world of microscopy. Next thing we are going to hear from you is you are going to go all Nikon and enter their tiny world contest. (I suspect the Nikon microscopes are really first rate… Of course then there are the Leica $$$ microscopes). All kidding aside I do like the work you are producing. It always visually stimulates me to see the textures that are on an object as one magnifies it.

    With respect to Helicon stacking software I got a little lost on some of technical intricacies you went through. But – did you consider the Zerene stacking application? It claims to be able handle very large stacks. I’ve see it recommended in other blogs. If memory serves me correctly Don Komarcheka has mentioned it.

    In closing I’ve been thumbing through my back issues of LensWork looking for some sort of new inspiration. In the June 2018 issue there was some work presented from Robert Dash. It is visually very arresting. The work is composites of images taken with a Scanning Electron Microscope and life size images. According to the Lenswork intro to his work he lives on Orcas island here in Washington State. It is very rural. I don’t know where he gets access to an electron microscope. Mr Dash has a web site:


    All of the work shown on his site is very different and original. With training I might be able to carry his memory cards.

    I hope you and your wife are well in these trying times.

    All the Best – Rich Bahl

    • Martin Bailey
      Posted at 21:27h, 10 July Reply

      Hi Rich,

      Not sure why, but this post was in the spam folder. Perhaps the multiple dollar signs triggered something.

      I won’t be getting a Nikon microscope, and contests have never interested me, so sorry to disappoint you on that front, although I know you’re only kidding. I have though just upgraded my new compound microscope’s lenses to all Plan Achromatic lenses and the difference is amazing! The lenses on my scope were just Achromatic, so they were sharp in the middle, but got gradually softer towards the edges. I tried to overcome some of it with more stacking, but it just wasn’t sharp at the edges. My new lenses are amazing, now leaving just the camera adapter to upgrade to get really good image quality, but that will not happen for a while yet.

      I hadn’t heard of Zerene, but I’m very happy with Helicon, so no worries there. Thanks for pointing out Rob Dash. I’ll check out his work in a few days when I come up for air again. I need to get a bunch of other stuff finished first.

      All the best to you too, Rich!


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