In 2007 I was invited to spend several months at SymbioticA, an artistic laboratory within the University of Western Australia that is dedicated to the research, learning, critique and hands-on engagement with the life sciences. While there I learned to use several of the microscopes at the imaging laboratory in their Department of Human Physiology.
Before going to SymbioticA I had almost no experience with microscopes and was very lucky to have constant oversight from Guy Ben-Ary who ran the imaging lab. A scientific microscope can be thought of as a very very complicated camera with scores of buttons, lenses, knobs, setting, toggles, lights, switches, power sources, etc. I am much more of a “feel it out” kind of person in relationship to technical knowledge, but using one of these desk cadillacs requires knowledge of all the previously mentioned optical controls, the order in which they must be executed and interactions amongst them all. This is not to mention sample preparation, lens engineering, setting lighting angles, capturing and compressing images and managing large volumes of digital mass.
It took quite a while to learn how to do all of this.