I found the only way to truly get really good images with the microscope was to eliminate any sort of air/water interface (discovered accidentally, as my microscope casing broken and filled with water). So I needed to dunk the lens in the water. I sealed the top of the lens so no water would get in the microscope barrel itself, then dunked the lens in water, and behold!: beautiful spores. This was Moose's suggestion, and will probably ruin the lens at some point, but for now it's working splendidly. But replacing a lens every so often isn't the worst operating expense.
Here's a with and without a barrier image, of the same set of spores:
And then, a sequence of image showing the number of spores remaining on the slide after hitting the spores with greater and greater force. The first picture has 4 spores, which got knocked down to 3 and then 1. Can you find them?
And as a final bit of news, I'll be posting some more algae pressings that are almost dry in the next few days. I got some really big ones in this set from the dock at FHL, after these I'll make one more set of smaller, more delicate (and in my opinion) more beautiful algae.