Dust Mite Closeup

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Disclaimer: Although I call it a dust mite, I don't really know what it is. The electron micrograph at the end of the page is a real dust mite protonymph, Dermatophagoides farinae. It doesn't look much like the other pictures, but I suppose they could all be dust mites. I'm not a die-hard taxonomist, so it's the same difference to me.

There is a larger image showing more context (39k)...the dust mite is actually in the corner of the photo.

Why a photo of a Dust Mite?

Lenses are very clean inside when new. You can see just about any little fleck of contamination. When one of those specs is moving around, however, it demands closer examination. One day, inside of my 200mm f/2.8 lens, I spotted a speck slowly moving around. I watched it move to another speck and dislodge it; perhaps it was another mite. Soon after this discovery, lots of cleaning occured. I can still find 'em every once in a while if I stare at a dusty horizontal surface. Once I discovered the presence of these little creatures, I tried to take a photo of one.

These dust mite photos represent the maximum magnification that I can get out of the lens stuff that I have. In order, from filter to camera, the configuration was:

By rough estimates, the image on the 4x6 photo is over 100x!

The camera was attached to a Velbon Macro Stage for focusing. That, in turn, was simply mounted on a tripod. The mite itself was walking around on a Kodak Slide Carousel box.

In order to illuminate the dust mite, I used both the ML-3 flash and a 540EZ flash, both pointed directly at the mite. It required close to full power from both flashes to get proper exposure. The mite moved quite a bit faster when warmed up too, but as you can see, it did not damage the fine hairs. Just getting the mite into the frame and in focus was quite a problem. Also; black bugs tend to get smoked by the 540EZ flash.

This is a black and white image of the dust mite. The mite's head is towards the top of the frame in this image. The background in all images was a Kodak Slide Carousel box.

All photos except the next one Copyright © by Adam Lane. All rights reserved.