Pine Cone Tip

Wonders of the Front Yard

I took a walk around the front yard a week ago, and have been posting macro photographs of the things I found there. A large pine cone was one of my finds. I wasn’t sure it would be at all interesting - to the naked eye, it looks dark brown, with some white goop on the tips of the scales.

I had no idea that white tigers were born from the white goop on pine cones. Who knew?

Technical info: the usual setup, Sony with LOMO 3.7x microscope objective. This shot was a test of a cleaning I did to the motorized stage that moves the camera to take the images. I had been using a very small move, 30 microns, which is smaller than I should need. I did this because I had run into a problem with the Erika photos - the setup seems to be skipping entire portions of the focus range, leaving bands that were unfocused here and there. I did a thorough cleaning of the “ways” of the lead screw and ball nut that moves the camera. I found things like insect eggs between the cracks, hardened wax (the manufacturer uses wax on the steel lead screw; I can tell you that the approach is not a wise one), and of course hairs, dust, and other things trapped in the wax. Yuck.

After a couple of days to make sure I got it all, I took this image with 50µm steps, and I don’t see any of the bands. I will try again at 75 or 100 microns (which is about the same size at the rather thin zone of focus) just to double check, but I think things are fine now. The dirt did do some damage, and the life of the unit will be shorter than if it had been allowed to get so dirty, but…it works.

Did you know? You can click on images to get a view of the largest available size.