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Module 4C: Enveloped or “flat” Imaging

Module Purpose:

This module is for imaging flat-preserved specimens using flat photography or scanning methods that create a high-resolution, in-focus image of the entire specimen and labels, including enveloped or papered Lepidoptera or Odonata.

Module Keywords:

Imaging, 2D, photography, flat, butterfly, dragonfly, envelope, papered

TaskID Task Name Explanations and Comments Resources
T1 Select and transport affected drawer(s) to proximity of imaging station. Pick specimens to be digitized depending on project or priority, the workflow outlined for this module integrates steps for specimen imaging, whether for all specimens or exemplar specimens. Institutional imaging policy. For further information on imaging guidelines and standards, see iDigBio.
T2 Set aside damaged specimens for conservation workflow. Re-route specimen to conservation workflow per conservation policy. Whether to image before conservation might depend upon the severity of the damage. Also see Module 2A Institutional conservation policy.
T3 If specimens are not catalogued, transcribed, or databased, decide on whether to do so before or after imaging. Regardless, imaged specimens should be associated with a unique identifier such as a catalog number. Add unique identifiers (if needed) and a label indicating that the specimen has been imaged. Exemplar high resolution imaging can be done before or after typical databasing of specimen. Generally, digitization of specimens is a different workflow than imaging specimens in high resolution, and should be thought about separately, although associating images with specimens is much easier if they already at least have an database record created with an associated unique identifier. Institutional guidelines for labels
T4 Envelope and label assessment Identify the kind of envelope where the specimen is placed (e.g., newspaper, non-archival paper, glassine, cellophane, etc.) and determine if it needs to be replaced for archive materials. Determine if labels are adequate for archival purposes; if not, determine replacement method, making sure to keep original labels. Decide wether to remove the specimen from the envelope for imaging (this will depend heavily on the specimen handling skills of the person digitizing). Link to best practices for Odonata preservation; see MPM Papered Lepidoptera Protocol
T5 Select digitization method For flat imaging either scanning or photography can be used, depending on equipment availability. As the aim here is primarily to digitize the specimen itself, perhaps photography would be the most appropriate method. Define whether to take a single image or serial images to be stacked; this will depend on availability of stacking software. When detailed images of specimens are not the priority, scanning in bulk can be a more efficient approach. Decide on an image storage solution (in specimen level database, separate, etc …), considering availability of storage space and file size. Institutional guidelines
T6 Testing imaging setup Make sure to test for lighting, especially when imaging without removing specimens from envelopes, as transparent (cellophane) envelopes can create undesired light strokes in the images. If these are unavoidable, just make sure that they are not obscuring the specimen or label data. Imaging system manual or imaging standard procedure
T7 Image capture Make sure that the resolution of your scan or photograph allows you to see details of the specimen and that labels are readable. Make sure that all label information is also being photographed along with the corresponding specimen. In most cases a single shot of the specimen in lateral view may be enough; depending on the specific project, additional images may be required. Include a scale bar and color calibration marker in the area imaged. Standard procedure for imaging
T8 File naming Rather than using the default machine-generated image numbers, define a standard for naming images, ideally including the catalog number or unique identifier of the specimen. Check if there is already a standard procedure for this at your collection. Skip if your image storage solution handles this for you (see T4). Free software: IrfanView, Inselect. Script to relabel files from scannable code in image: Rename from QR. Institutional file-naming protocol
T9 Replace non-archival envelopes as needed Check best practices for the insect group of interest. Make sure to preserve original labels and include all additional labels (i.e. identifier, imaged tag) along with the specimen. Best practices for enveloped specimen preservation
T10 Move imaged specimens back into collection    

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