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Plant Pest Diagnostics Center - Entomology Laboratory

Dome lighting for insect imaging under a microscope


The most basic element of photography is the interaction of light on the subject being imaged. In cases where magnification and clarity is of great importance, such as the imaging of insects for scientific illustration, controlling light can be especially challenging. The intense light needed to visualize microscopic elements such as setae and ultrastructural sculpturing may often overcompensate the light levels needed in other areas, especially for high color contrast and/or reflective specimens.

One technique that has shown promise for quick and effective insect imaging is using LEDs in conjunction with an open dome to create a diffused, soft light arena for photography.

Creating a dome lighting system of your own is in fact easy and inexpensive. Through the links below, we detail how a variety of dome systems that can be made using easily acquired materials. We also identify a few important considerations for effectively imaging challenging subjects under a microscope.

This information is provided as part of the following publication (which may be used for citation):

Kerr, P.H., E.M. Fisher, and M.L. Buffington. 2008. Dome lighting for insect imaging under a microscope. American Entomologist. 54 (4) : 198-200.

Questions, comments, and/or requests for a .pdf of the published article may be addressed to Peter Kerr.