Book: Insect Microscopy

    A great book for beginner users of the Microscope

    The focus of this book is on the study of insects with a microscope. The book contains colour pictures on almost every page. It is interesting to read. It contains plenty of reference information too.

    The study of insects is an easily accessible focus of interest for a micro-naturalist. Most of the techniques that the author presents and explains are directly applicable to the study of any microscopic organism. Insects can be found everywhere even if you live in the center of a large city. Insects present endless possibilities for study under a microscope too. Even if you already have some experience with microscopes, or if you are a new entrant to the hobby, this is an excellent book to own and use.

    This is a great book for beginners to the hobby use of the microscope. It presents the details of modern microscope techniques and procedures.

    The Book Cover



    What’s in the Book?

    The book contains chapters devoted to equipment, microscopes, media for mounting, compounds and chemicals, slide mounting and publishing your work. Clearly ‘citizen science’ was on his mind when he wrote this book.

    Publisher information

    Author Andrew Chick is an entomologist (he studies insects) and teaches at the University of Lincoln in the UK.You will find this book through online booksellers. It was published in 2016 by The Crowood Press ISBN 978-1-78500-201-4 128 pages. It is paper bound.

    Categories: Reference Books

    Book: Introduction to Digital Photomicrography

    The new book (2017) written by Brian Matsumoto and Carol Rouillard is the most up-to-date book on this topic that I have been able to find. It is filled with practical information about modern microscopes, but more to the point, it covers modern digital cameras and their use. Most books on the market are stuck in the past offering advice on adapting SLR cameras which are seldom used today.

    The book covers making movies as well as images, and contains lots of tables and reference material that could be difficult to locate even on the internet. If you only own one book on digital microscope photography this should be the one.

    Publisher information

    The authors are Brian Matsumoto and Carol Rouillard. ISBN 9781785003042 The Crowood Press 2017

    Book: Safe Microscopic Techniques For Amateurs

    A Good Book for Beginners

    The late Walter Dioni was a proponent of using safe techniques and materials while enjoying microscopy. A new micro-naturalist often needs assistance in learning how to make good use of the microscope. In fact, anyone who has taken a course in biology will know that for decades the materials used to preserve specimens and slides were often dangerous to use. Some of them have been lately declared unsafe or even have been banned. It is no longer necessary to use these chemicals to enjoy all aspects of the hobby.

    This book shows how safe, easy to obtain, substitutes can be used for mounting specimens on microscope slides. The book is a collection of articles, previously published in the excellent online Micscape Magazine by its editor Mol Smith. The book gives illustrated examples of the techniques with a complete “how-to” approach to the techniques.

    Publisher information

    This book was published in 2014. ISBN: 9781499746518 Printed in Middletown DE.

    Book: Microscopy as a Hobby

    A good beginner level book

    Mol Smith’s book, published in 2014 presents “a 21st Century Quick Start Guide” that will bring anyone easily into the microscope hobby. Mol Smith, the editor of Micscape Magazine by its editor Mol Smith is an acknowledged world authority on the use of the amateur microscope.

    Most introductory books are decades old but this one gives the information for parents, teenagers or mature adults needed to get started (or restarted). This is now a high tech activity that rivals the excitement of any modern interest group and the tools needed have become very accessible. It is really useful for a micro-naturalist.

    The book recommends safe-to-use chemicals, and easily obtainable equipment that allows anyone to learn to access the hidden and unseen world under a microscope.

    Publisher Information

    This little book (142 pages) gives everything you need to know to get going. I own it, and I recommend it to you. Available online ISBN: 9781500301651 printed at Middletown DE USA.

    Categories: For Beginners, Reference Books Tags: Tags:


    Good Reference Book on Diatoms

    This is a good starter reference book to diatoms. They are tiny creatures that can be easily seen under the microscope. Its fun to see them but much more rewarding to be able to identify them. I capture my samples with a plankton net.

    Diatoms are excellent subjects for study by amateurs under the microscope. They occur in lots of locations so besides being beautiful they are easily found in marine and freshwater settings. Diatoms are recognizable by their silca-based ‘shells’ called frustules.These are in two halves, and contain the living organism.

    A good guide to diatoms is William Vinyard’s book which is available from online book dealers. This book will bring pleasure to the viewing of diatoms because it gives an easily followed identification index. It also provides lots of background on the biology of diatoms.

    The book

    Book Cover

    Some Images of Marine Diatoms from the Georgia Strait British Columbia



    Categories: Plants, Reference Books


    Protists With Shells

    Foraminifera are simple organisms which, when alive, protrude pseudopodia through tiny pores in a rigid calcareous test or shell. This shell can be a single chamber or can be composed of multiple chambers. Most are marine, and can be either bottom-dwelling or floating plankton.

    The accumulations of their dead shells become part of the sediment column on the bottom of the ocean. Under the microscope these shells are intricate and beautiful. They tell the story of the conditions under which they lived. They are not easy to locate in our area – but turn up as micro-fossils in sediment on the sea floor.

    The shells are particularly beautiful and intricate. Each species can be identified from particular features produced in this structure. Mainly marine, both benthic (bottom dwelling) and planktonic (floating in the water column). They are little known to amateur micro-naturalists. Once they are discovered, they create a fascination which is hard to shake.


    Some images of foraminifera shells


    Categories: Animals

    Marine Plankton Under the Microscope

    Study Plankton under a microscope

    Close proximity to the sea provides many opportunities for the Micro-Naturalist to enjoy endless viewing of spectacular subjects. Plankton is one of those topics.

    How to do it?

    I use a small student-grade plankton net launched by hand from the shore on a line to gather samples. I view them while the subjects are still fresh. By capturing images of the most interesting subjects I was able to research and identify the organisms from reference texts.

    Where to get them?

    The waters around Vancouver Island BC are easy sources of phytoplankton and zooplankton. With very little effort you can get fantastic forms of microscopic life into view. Even the sand is worth studying. But you could find them in a lake, a pond or pool.

    The variety and quantity of organisms is different each time. There are examples of both phytoplankton and zooplankton in the samples. Care in handling the raw sample ensures that few of the organisms are damaged and of course only a small drop of water from the sample is examined at any one time (so the sample does not need to be very large).

    Identification of Organisms

    I refer organisms that I cannot identify to the Amateur Microscopy Facebook group where experts assist with identification down to the genus, and sometimes even to the species level. By keeping a lab notebook I keep records of the organisms I encounter, and make notes when they are identified. This provides a reference for later use when examples of the organisms are encountered again.


    Categories: Animals, Plants

    Amateur Microscope Users Network on Vancouver Island

    Building a Network of Amateur Micr-Naturalists

    Linking up other like-minded amateur users of microscopes is a major goal of this website. Scattered the length of Vancouver Island are amateur microscopists working alone on their hobby. Imagine an informal network linking us all up together – and even hosting periodic coffee meet ups where we can all get to know each other. Maybe some day we will host a technical meeting – with speakers – its possible!

    What Is a Micro-Naturalist?

    A micronaturalist is simply a naturalist who is interested in using a microscope to access the small world that forms the basis of all life. “Take a field trip without leaving the room with a microscope” is our tagline.

    The idea is to learn from each other, trade information, and even build friendships that generate projects. We could, as a group, create useful tools for others based on the knowledge we are accumulating. I’d like to think that we are going to inspire others to join us in this activity.

    Meet Up with Us

    If you are interested in linking up with us – please send a message to microscope (at) expressing an interest. We are a friendly, respectful, supportive and positive group who would like to include anyone interested in microscopy.

    Categories: Other, People