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Tips for Diagnostics

The following are suggestions offered by NDSU agriculture specialists.

  • Spread out samples, lay as flat as possible to aid identification. (See example)
    Use tape if necessary to flatten plants. If leaf curling is a symptom of the disease, try to depict it naturally. If necessary, send another "flattened" image to aid identification of the plant.

  • For diseases, get as close as possible with as good as resolution as possible. Make sure the image is in focus.
    Contrast this poor example with this good one.

  • Include common items in the photo (coins, pencils, etc.) to provide a scale. (See example)

  • Lighting is critical. Reduce the exposure in bright light. Take several shots at several exposures if you are uncertain or if the view-finder image is too difficult to see accurately outdoors. Be careful not to cast a shadow over the subject as you are taking the photo.

  • Use photo editing software to enhance and crop your photos before you send them in.

  • Several photos may be necessary to identify plants or show characteristics accurately. (Notice how your impression of this veronica plant changes when you see it alone and then in relation to other garden plants.)
    Consider sending a full-sized view to show the plant habit, as well as close-ups of the leaf, stem, and flower characteristics.

  • Rename your images with meaningful names. Provide a source, the date and a number if possible.

  • Include useful information with the image when you send it. If you are e-mailing the image, provide the context in the message, for instance, site characteristics, location, crop... everything you think may be pertinent.

  • Flatbed scanners may sometimes produce better images than your digital camera. If your sample is clean and dry, and you are willing to set it on your scanner, experiment with both.
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