I Can See Clearly Now! – A Decade of Focus Stacking Advances – Geoff Thompson

For those members who missed Geoff Thompson’s talk at the last club meeting 18th March 2024 here is a similar presentation on YouTube with the same stunning micro-photography images: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92qZGg2n0Tc

Here is a summary of the development of the Focus Stacked Micro-photography along with some of Geoff’s achievements in the field.

For the past decade the presenter has used a camera-based, flash illuminated, focus stacking system, to image small specimens and objects at Queensland Museum. During that time, quality and maximum magnifications possible have constantly improved. Use of Mitutoyo objectives, through a lens or microscope attached directly to a mounted camera, that can move in precise steps when required, has produced a quantum leap in image quality. 

Other advances include better motor control of step sizes, more powerful computers for image processing, improved use of computer power by imaging programs, and the development of AI image-editing tools. These factors have combined to make it possible to provide high-quality, focus-stacked images of tiny specimens to researchers worldwide, instead of having to loan precious type specimens, as was previously necessary. 

The presenter’s digital illustration skills are used to digitally clean up specimens and remove pins etc. making images much more useful for displays and popular publications. These skills, as well as image quality and willingness to innovate have led to collaborations with artists, most notably with Maria Fernanda Cardoso on her peacock spider projects. 

Images produced at Queensland Museum were further edited by the artist and her team. In 2018 two large prints were sold jointly to London’s Tate Gallery and Sydney’s Museum of Contemporary Art. In September 2021, five large prints were offered for sale by Sicardi-Ayers-Bacino Gallery, at New York’s prestigious Armoury show.s

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