Consider the standard configuration of stereomicroscope and fiber optic light used to examine insect specimens:
Arranged like this, the lights provide point sources of intense light. A shiny ant specimen lit as above looks like so:
Undiffuse light from the fiber optic source leaves harsh glare and dark shadows, and the ant’s skin textures and hairs are difficult to see. How to fix it?
Instead of directing light at the specimen, arrange white paper or styrofoam under the scope and reflect the light off that:
Moving the fiber optic arms to bounce light off a white surface replaces the harsh points with a soothing sea of even illumination.
Diffused light renders the ant’s skin textures and hairs more visible. Same ant, diffuse light. Look at the difference- it is much easier to see key characters!
- All photos taken with an iPhone 4s, including the specimen shots. The phone’s little camera actually works pretty well held up to the scope’s eyepiece.
- For microscope photography, this quick diffuser will still be insufficient to produce publishable-quality images. Instead, you’ll want to up the diffusion with something like the styrofoam cup trick.