Image gallery: Arthropods photographed using CombineZ software
by Alan Hadley, UK

Editor's note: CombineZ is a powerful freeware package written by Alan Hadley for combining 'image stacks' to improve depth of field in photomacroscopy and photomicroscopy. See the author's web site for current version and for details of photographic techniques.

I look on late March or early April as the start of a new natural year, I know there are things happening all year round but that is when the rush starts so I have been taking stock of what I achieved last year.

First I bought a tabletop freezer, not for beer or anything like that, you see the wife didn't like me keeping dead insects in the family freezer. I discovered that freezing preserved colours better than letting insects dry in the traditional way, so I went mad and collected loads and am just coming to the end of photographing them. Here are just a few, admittedly some of the brighter ones:-

A common little sawfly.

A ladybird beetle.

A lace bug.

A leaf hopper

Common earwig, female

A ground bug

A common brightly coloured beetle

A small Chloropid fly

A micro moth

A capsid bug

The front of a caddis fly from the side

Scorpion fly

Grey flesh fly

Pictured wing fly

Then I decided to see if the freezer worked on other arthropods:-

Crab spider

A colourful spider

Common millipede

I tried some other spiders but the colour changed, so I think they would be better in alcohol/water.

This winter, when the freezer was nearly empty, and for a change I decided to have a go with a Berlese funnel; do a web search they are easy to put together. I went out for a half an hour to a local wood and sieved some dead leaves;  here are a few of the things I managed to extract:-

Probably a predatory mite, see the strong 2nd pair of legs.

A mite

A tortoise shaped mite

A springtail

Then the other day I decided to see what was living in the filter of our fish tank, there were some fast moving little creatures, some rotifers and nematode worms. I took a series of pictures of a worm, than I had to make some improvements to CombineZ to make processing them easier so it's up to version 4.3; now here is the result:-

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So you see I have had a busy year, I wonder what the spring will hold!

     All comments to the author Alan Hadley are welcomed.


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