Digital Photography (Plant problems)

Digital images of plant problems symptoms and mushrooms (causing rots on woody plants) can be very useful for diagnosis and identification. Digital pictures are free and easy to submit. We do not provide diagnosis or identification on an image only because it is not feasible in most cases to make even a good guess, but we will accept images in order to assist in determining what type of sample is most appropriate. Here are tips to help send better pictures.

  1. Get different perspectives.
    • Provide a variety of pictures.
    • Take pictures of the whole plant or mushroom.
    • Take close-up pictures of disease symptoms or other small features of a plant or mushroom.
  2. Make sure the lighting is right. This may mean trying different angles and locations.
  3. Make sure that the features of the plant, mushroom, or the plant disease are in full light, as shadows can obscure the specimen and what you want to be seen.
  4. Focus, focus, focus.
    • Make sure the specimen (plant, plant symptoms, or mushroom) is seen clearly.
    • To focus a cell phone camera, often simply tapping the screen will adjust the focus automatically.
    • For standard point and shoot cameras, pushing the capture button down halfway will focus most cameras. If a close-up is required look for the macro option on the camera, often a tulip icon or button.
  5. Include a size reference.
    • Depending on the size, place a coin, pencil, ruler, or yardstick next to the specimen in the photograph.
  6. Take several pictures (digital film is free!) but send only the best five to ten..
    • Include whole-plant view,
    • Symptom pattern observed (top, side, or bottom-most affected)
    • Trunk/stem, and base of the plant
    • Close-ups of the most common symptoms
    • For mushrooms in trees, take a photo that shows the location on the tree/plant, top and bottom of the cap, and the stem.  (No photo only Identification, no edibility recommendations)
  7. Submit your photos to the PIDC Image Submission (Plant Problems- Diseases) submission form https://go.iastate.edu/UUBQSQ
  8. Don’t discard any specimen material.

Do not feel the need to apologize. We’re all in this together, and photography is difficult. Practice and patience. Your pictures will get better with practice.