11 February 2014

Tuesday Crustie: Diamonds

Valentine’s Day is approaching, and many may be thinking about jewelry. Nature has its own jewels...


This photograph by Daniel Stoupin uses no photoshop fiddling. It’s just taken with the right lens, a polarized lens in this case.

I happen to employ polarized light often in my photography. And not to cut reflections, but to find interesting patterns in different animals. In fact, most of my images in the old microscope gallery are made using polarized light microscopy technique that happens to emphasize muscles and other regular structures. After reading a lot about vision systems in invertebrates ...

(A) recent paper attracted my attention:

Cohen  JH, Putts MR. Polarotaxis and scototaxis in the supratidal amphipod Platorchestia platensis. Journal of Comparative Physiology A 199(8) 1-12. http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00359-013-0825-7

The authors studied polarization vision in one amphipod species and gave evidence that it uses it for navigation. This work made me remember that some amphipods look very spectacular in polarized light, mostly from photos posted in photomicrography.net community. I decided to catch a few random amphipods (not of the same species) and make focus stacks under high magnification with crossed polarizers. I was amazed, to say the least! These guys are fabulous and all these patterns are absolutely invisible to our eyes.

There are more stunning photos in the original post. Go check it out.

Hat tip to Ziya Tong and Lindsay Waldrop.

External links

Polarized light vision and marine crustaceans

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