Wood Under the ‘Scope

maple ray under microscope

A couple of weeks ago I discovered that it was easy to shoot photos through my microscope by just jamming my cell phone camera up against the eyepiece, so I started looking for interesting things to shoot. Some of the varnish ground samples on bridges, shown in an earlier post, look pretty cool under the ‘scope.

In this shot, the big vertical comb towards the left is one ray (the vertical spotting) on a violin bridge, which in the tree is a radial bundle of cells running horizontally out from the middle of the tree. The horizontal line on the bottom is a grain line running horizontally across the bridge face (remember, a bridge is turned 90 degrees from the way a tree grows). The two smaller rays on the right are deeper in the wood, and the sealer I’m testing on this sample let me see right down into the wood for a short distance to see them. There is horizontal wood structure not visible here because of the lighting–the lengthwise fibers in the tree, since this photo is turned 90 degrees. You can just barely see them, as fibers running parallel to the grain line, on the far left.

For comparison, here’s the same view, but instead of being lit from the right side, the light is coming from the bottom. Now you can see the other set of fibers illuminated, and the rays beneath, on the right, are obscured by them:

wood fibers, lighting from below

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