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Photography of Soft-Bodied Crustaceans via Drying, Whitening, and Splicing

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Abstract It is difficult to take good detailed pictures of soft-bodied crustaceans (and other invertebrates); photographing animals in alcohol leads to problems with lighting and focus while drying out soft-bodied animals for photography distorts their morphology. To help better capture surface detail, the following procedures are proposed. Specimens should be fixed and stained with a general tissue stain in order to ensure an even coloration, followed by either chemical drying (using hexamethyldisilazane) or critical point drying. Specimens are then mounted to allow for whitening with either ammonium chloride (NH4Cl) or magnesium oxide (MgO) to highlight areas of high topographic relief. Lastly, to increase the depth of field in the resulting image, photographs should be taken at sequential planes of focus and then spliced together using a software package for that purpose (i.e., Helicon Focus or Leica Applications Suite). This method is especially useful for showing surface detail and for making comparative images of modern crustaceans to compare with fossil specimens.

Affiliations: 1: Geology and Geophysics Department, Yale University, P.O. Box 208109, New Haven, Connecticut 06520-8109, U.S.A


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