Langton Matravers autumn meeting

Saturday 8th October 2016

On a cloudy autumn day, members of the Quekett, members of the Postal Microscopical Society and some visitors met in the Village Hall in Langton Matravers in Dorset for a day of exhibits, demonstrations and gossip, organised by Derek Stevens.

You never know what to expect at a Quekett meeting, and this time we were surprised by Carel Sartory announcing that Klaus Kemp has been elected an Honorary Member of the Quekett.

Carel Sartory presenting a certificate to Klaus KempCarel Sartory presenting a certificate to Klaus Kemp (right)

Klaus Kemp brought along a cabinet of his superb arrangements of diatoms and butterfly scales, some large photographs of his arrangements, and the microscope that he uses, a Lomo МБР-1Е with a Wild phase condenser, a Leitz binocular head with Nikon HKW10× eyepieces, objectives including a Beck ½ inch that provides the optimum magnification and working distance, and a small micromanipulator.

Klaus Kemp’s micromanipulator and Beck ½″ objectiveKlaus Kemp’s micromanipulator and Beck ½″ objective

Alan Wood’s wife was fascinated by Klaus’s work, and Klaus explained how he makes the glass needles that are so fine they are hard to see, showed her how he manipulates a diatom, and let her try it for herself.

Thanya Nirantasook watching Klaus at workThanya Nirantasook watching Klaus at work

Photograph of a Klaus Kemp geometric diatom arrangementPhotograph of a geometric diatom arrangement

Klaus Kemp flowers made from arranged butterfly scalesFlowers made from arranged butterfly scales

Joan Bingley’s exhibit was all about silk, with a stereomicroscope for viewing cocoons, silk threads, yarn and fabrics, and a Polarspex for viewing an NBS slide of silk fibres with polarised light. Joan provided photographs of the moth, the caterpillar and the cocoons, raising the caterpillars, cooking, sorting and grading cocoons, and actual samples of embroidery and a variety of fabrics.

Joan Bingley and Klaus KempJoan Bingley and Klaus Kemp

Joan Bingley’s exhibitJoan Bingley’s exhibit

Silk embroidery by Joan BingleySilk embroidery by Joan Bingley

Joan belongs to the Phoenix Contemporary Textile Group which is holding its “Strata: a Stitched Excavation” exhibition in Walton-on-Thames this month. Joan also brought some books published by the Quekett and its members, and was selling some items from Alan Kime’s estate and some drawing instruments.

Carel Sartory and Robert Ratford with a drawing instrumentCarel Sartory (left) and Robert Ratford with a drawing instrument

Mervyn Bown always manages to come up with a bee-related exhibit that we haven’t seen before, and this time he had a display about honey from lime (Tilia spp.), and slides of pollen extracted from honey that we could admire with his trinocular Leitz Laborlux K microscope.

Mervyn Bown and his displayMervyn Bown and his display

Honey from the linden treeHoney from the linden tree

Pollen slide under Mervyn Bown’s microscopePollen slide under Mervyn’s microscope

For low power, both Mervyn and Alan Wood were using a Zeiss ×2.5 Plan objective, which works well in non-Zeiss microscopes.

Adrian Brokenshire brought along a cabinet full of beautifully-prepared forams and shells for us to admire under his Meiji BM long-arm stereomicroscope. We were astonished to learn that this was not his main collection, just his spares.

Adrian Brokenshire with Thanya Nirantasook and Robert RatfordAdrian Brokenshire (left) with Thanya Nirantasook and Robert Ratford

Adrian Brokenshire’s mounted specimensAdrian’s mounted specimens

Adrian Brokenshire’s free samplesAdrian Brokenshire’s free samples

You can see many photographs of Adrian’s forams in the Foraminifera Gallery.

Kit Brownlee’s subject was crystals of calcium carbonate (CaCO3), and the specimens she provided for viewing under her Zeiss stereomicroscope included a micromount of witherite and a micromount of malachite (green), chalcopyrite (yellow) and calcite.

Kit Brownlee with her exhibitKit Brownlee explaining her exhibit

Kit Brownlee’s micromountsKit’s micromounts

Kit also showed a large brown crystal of orthorhombic aragonite showing columnar habit and a large crystal of hexagonal calcite showing twinning

Kit Brownlee’s crystalsKit’s crystals

Kit also brought along a couple of books, Introducing Mineralogy by John Mason and Rocks and Minerals by Chris Pellant.

Brian Darnton has recently turned his attention to the fossil forams in chalk, and showed several slides that he has made. He had difficulty finding a guide to identify them, but eventually found a key in a geological publication.

Brian Darnton explaining his exhibit to Thanya NirantasookBrian Darnton explaining his exhibit to Thanya Nirantasook

Jeremy Poole has recently been looking at fossils using his scanning electron microscope at low magnifications and he brought along several photographs.

Jeremy Poole’s SEM photos of fossilsJeremy’s SEM photos of fossils

Jeremy also showed some stubs with coated specimens that we could examine with his trinocular Olympus SZH stereomicroscope. Jeremy had been wondering how to attach a camera to his SZH, and Alan Wood was able to show him exactly what he needs.

Jeremy Poole’s coated specimens on SEM stubsJeremy’s coated specimens on SEM stubs

Jeremy has recently been on a Photoshop course to learn how to add colour to selected parts of SEM photos, and showed us his first efforts on his laptop.

Carel Sartory showed the brass folding Swift microscope that his father took to India in 1942, his notebook, and one of the slides that he made. Illumination was provided by a free-standing top light made by Sartory Instruments that Carel had modified to use a COB LED.

Peter Sartory’s Swift portable microscopePeter Sartory’s Swift portable microscope

David Spears is making a home-made stage for stacking. It used a stepper motor and AutoStep Stepper Motor Controller software from PC Control Ltd to raise or lower a thick aluminium stage on a threaded steel rod, with 200 steps for each 1 mm turn. The stage was supported on 2 drawer runners from B&Q. The apparatus was resting on the base of a substantial Wild stand, to which was attached a Nikon PM-6 bellows with a 55 mm Micro-Nikkor and a small video camera.

David Spears’ stacking apparatusDavid Spears’ stacking apparatus

David Spears and Robert RatfordDavid Spears explaining his apparatus to Robert Ratford

David also displayed a copy of his book Unseen Companions: Big Views of Tiny Creatures, and some of his coloured SEM photographs.

David Spears’ book and coloured SEM photosDavid Spears’ book and coloured SEM photos

Derek Stevens used his trinocular Vickers compound microscope and Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ7 camera (mounted afocally) to show aquatic life from his birdbath on a monitor. At this time of year, the water has normally turned red because of Haematococcus pluvialis, but this time only large numbers of the encysted resting stage were present. There were also some active rotifers, setting up water currents that were clearly visible because of suspended particles.

Derek Stevens with his microscope, camera and monitorDerek Stevens with his microscope, camera and monitor

Alan Wood in his role as Quekett webmaster and Chris Thomas the new editor of the Quekett Bulletin are keen to encourage members to take photomicrographs and send them in. Alan brought a complete system to show just how easy it can be, with a trinocular Olympus CH-2 microscope, the Olympus attachment for OM 35 mm cameras with an eBay adapter to EOS, 2.5× NFK photo eyepiece projecting an image to a full-frame Canon EOS 5D Mark II, and the free EOS Utility software running under Windows on a Lenovo laptop. Focus, composition, white balance and exposure can all be checked or set on the screen, and then one click with a mouse saves a good image to the hard disk.

Alan Wood’s microscope, camera and computerAlan Wood’s microscope, camera and computer

For more information, see Attaching a digital SLR camera to an Olympus CH-2, CK2, CK40 or CK40M microscope.

Our thanks to Derek Stevens and Brian Darnton for organising the meeting, and to Rosemary Stevens and Margriet Darnton for keeping us supplied with tea, coffee and biscuits throughout the day.

Report and photographs by Alan Wood

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