Digital Photography (Plant & Mushrooms)

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Digital images of plants, plant problems and mushrooms 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 half-way 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.
    • For mushrooms take a picture of the top and bottom of the cap as well as the stem.
  7. Attach your image file to an email message. Send your digital files attached to an email to pidc@iastate.edu.
    • If you submitted a sample first and we requested photos make sure to include in the subject the submitter last name, plant/crop and sample submission date. Example: Smith-maple-MM/DD/YY.
  8. Include basic information about the subject of your photo in your message. Provide the background information about the plant or mushroom with the correct form above. Include: where it is growing, when symptoms were noticed, how many plants are affected, and any other relevant details.
  9. 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.

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