diagnostic photos (was The Wisdom of Mary Sue..)

Boyce Tankersley btankers@chicagobotanic.org
Thu, 11 Feb 2010 11:04:52 PST
I think the wiki images provide an invaluable service. While they may
not be able to confirm an exact identification every time,  in many
instances they can identify an inaccurate id - which sends us in search
of other resources (like Mary Sue and the other PBS'ers) who gladly
share their knowledge and expertise.

For those interested in taking pictures for identification purposes a
scale (metric units) and a gray scale (for color calibration)are
recommended in at least one of the photo's taken of a taxon on a
specific day. 

As Diane points out with reference to Galanthus; knowledge of the key
identifying characteristics is also required.

At Chicago Botanic Garden we have been taking digital images for outside
verification experts to use for a number of years. In general, we try to
start photographing at least 2 years before the experts show up in an
effort to document all of the key characteristics; taking into account
the influence of weather (and photographer vacation schedules). The
images (typically 4 - 9 in number (depending on taxon) include habit
through all of the key identification characteristics). These images are
imbedded in an InDesign document that is printed, reviewed and annotated
by the taxonomic expert; similar to a traditional herbarium voucher.
This whole process is very time consuming and images, lacking
verification by a recognized expert in the taxon, can suggest an
identification but can not confirm an ID.

Boyce Tankersley
Director of Living Plant Documentation
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022
tel: 847-835-6841
fax: 847-835-1635
email: btankers@chicagobotanic.org

It is up to us to make the photos on the wiki helpful for identifying  

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