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12-05-2016, 02:13 PM - 2 Likes   #1
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Techniques for Cleaning Tiny Subjects?

Any tips for cleaning up small particles from tiny crevasses?

For example, I'm working on photographing the feather below . This is at roughly 4x magnification (A28/2.8@f/8 reversed on bellows), 5 images stacked. An air blower helped, but there's enough mess that I'd think I could up my cleaning game before starting the photoshop cloning game.

There are insect specific methods on Nass' website that might be helpful here or in general, but I thought we could use a thread for any other techniques. I'll try the warm water bath + agitation next, but I'm open to other suggestions.

Raising a bird in an industrial clean room has crossed my mind, but it seems tedious



12-05-2016, 02:46 PM - 1 Like   #2
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Wow. Honestly, maybe just photoshop the big ones and then hope people don't notice the rest
12-05-2016, 03:00 PM - 1 Like   #3
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Very fine brush, then (done outside) air blower?


You'd hope liquid washing didn't alter the texture, Brian.


If you wanted a turkey to raise in a laboratory environment for photographing, just show a bunch of 'em a video of what their farmer has planned - you'll get lots of volunteers!
12-05-2016, 03:09 PM - 1 Like   #4
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In a clean room I am familiar with, we had ionizing air curtains, and smaller handheld blowers, from EXAIR. Helped get rid of the dust and prevent it from just moving around on the part. Probably not in a price range of anyone here.

I never tried them on birds

12-05-2016, 03:26 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Na Horuk Quote
Wow. Honestly, maybe just photoshop the big ones and then hope people don't notice the rest
I see them and can't unsee them.

QuoteOriginally posted by clackers Quote
Very fine brush, then (done outside) air blower?

You'd hope liquid washing didn't alter the texture, Brian.

If you wanted a turkey to raise in a laboratory environment for photographing, just show a bunch of 'em a video of what their farmer has planned - you'll get lots of volunteers!
I'll see about a brush and turkey farm.

Wrecking the texture is a definite concern. This feather isn't precious so I can experiment, I think it's just a mourning dove tail feather. The local accipiters patrolling my bird feeder can make more for me to collect.

QuoteOriginally posted by Riggomatic Quote
In a clean room I am familiar with, we had ionizing air curtains, and smaller handheld blowers, from EXAIR. Helped get rid of the dust and prevent it from just moving around on the part. Probably not in a price range of anyone here.

I never tried them on birds
I'll look up that equipment for curiosities sake, but you're most certainly right about my budget for this
12-05-2016, 03:53 PM - 1 Like   #6
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on technical objects I use Rodico (watchmaker cleaning putty from Bergeon)


May be it also removes small hair, but It is worth a try (at least you can use it to remove dirt,/ fingerprints of your camera gear)
12-06-2016, 05:41 AM - 1 Like   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by Lothman Quote
on technical objects I use Rodico (watchmaker cleaning putty from Bergeon)

'The Rodico' - Essential Watch Repair/Cleaning Tool - YouTube

May be it also removes small hair, but It is worth a try (at least you can use it to remove dirt,/ fingerprints of your camera gear)
Bath might work, but it might cause some of the hairs to stick together, which wouldn't be pretty. I often get that when cleaning insects, fats extrude from the biological specimen, stick together and form clumps. A whole feather looks much too big for an ultrasonic bath but a small part might work.

I'd be tempted to also try modding a hairdryer which has a 'no heat' setting. Use silver foil to make a small say 1cmx1cm funnel opening that the air comes out, this should be strong enough to dislodge the dirt.

I wouldn't use the putty, I suspect that'll stick to the feather!

If all else fails, the photoshop clone brush is very effective too.
12-06-2016, 09:46 PM   #8
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I would try one of the dusting wipes. It seems as though stuff "clings" to them pretty good and might get rid of the larger specimens.

12-07-2016, 08:56 AM - 2 Likes   #9
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You may want to check with museums. Their staff cleans fragile items, restores things, collects insects, birds etc. and photographs them. There may well be ways to leverage electrostatic effects to remove dust, and use very soft brushes and gentle vacuums to remove debris, pollen etc. These could be replicated on an amateur level as well. I know insect collectors will have to dry, dress, and preserve their specimens and have developed skills and tools to do so.

Museum staff often write tutorials and are usually supportive of amateurs doing field work.
12-10-2016, 03:00 PM   #10
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Maybe this would work: LyDiaŽ UK STOCK Professional Black Flat Angled Eye Brow/Eyeliner/Eyeshadow Makeup Brush: Amazon.co.uk: Beauty
12-10-2016, 03:55 PM - 1 Like   #11
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From personal experience as a Trustee of a museum, the major assets archivists have are time and patience. If your job would require an entire day an archivist would spend an entire day.

Ours suggests a jeweler's loupe, a gentle blower, micro picks and stiff, fine inking brushes. Of course, try not to separate the quills.

When I described the Pentax O-ICK1 she said that might be possible since Pentax claims it doesn't leave residue on sensor glass. She did suggest the gentlest 'surgeon's hands' possible. I'd add - be sure to touch the stick to the transfer paper after lifting EACH dust particle.
12-10-2016, 10:39 PM   #12
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Thanks for everyone's input so far, I appreciate the ideas. I imagine getting something like this perfectly clean to be impossible, so it's a matter of efficiently balancing available time between pre-cleaning and post-processing with the clone tool.

That Rodico stuff looks pretty great, while it might not be ideal for feathers, I can see many uses for the non-residue version (and the Pentax O-ICK1 stick).

Stiff brushes, dental picks, and a better air blower look like my next step, along with a jeweller's loupe (which I've wanted for other purposes anyway). I'll be keeping the ultrasonic bath in mind. I'm not sure how far into this type of wee photography I want to dive - it's a very interesting world to explore but I think it can be a major time sinkhole.

The shopping list is growing
12-11-2016, 12:07 AM   #13
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When I used to paint 35mm figures I would use a #00000 red sable spotting brush for the fine details like the pupils in the eyes or insignia on the uniforms. Archivists/restorationist use the same brushes for cleaning delicate items.

BRUSH SIZE NO. 00000 ? Roadrunner Ceramics

A dissecting microscope would help too.
12-12-2016, 02:19 PM   #14
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A dissecting "platform microscope" would be ideal. Less fatiguing than the loupe, perhaps. Check Craigslist and ebay, you may find one on the cheap.
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