Imagine all the imaging: One entomology collection's quest for the perfect insect image

Sunday, 15 February 2015
Exhibit Hall (San Jose Convention Center)
Katherine Bibee Wolfson, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO
In 2013, the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History (UCMNH) Entomology Collection began high-resolution imaging of insect specimens as part of the Southwest Collections of Arthropods Network (SCAN). Digitization of biological specimens has been a growing movement among museums over the past several decades, and the many challenges of digital image capture have come to light as more collections embark on imaging projects to increase accessibility and digitally preserve specimens. Although many collections at UCMNH are involved in high-resolution photography of collection specimens, the Entomology Collection faces the particularly challenging task of imaging insects, which are small, diverse, three-dimensional, and often reflective. Another challenge is maintaining image-associated data found on insect labels. Although there are many different approaches to imaging insects, the University of Colorado Entomology Collection creates high quality, focus-stacked macro photographs using the Passport II Imaging System. The UCMNH Entomology Collection has developed an effective project workflow to meet the challenges of insect macrophotography and data management. Images produced by UCMNH collections are used in a variety of venues, from museum exhibits to online databases. Depending upon how an image will be used, it is processed differently to accomplish unique goals, such as research, marketing, or education. This broad use of images allows museum collections to serve both the scientific community and the general public. High quality digital imaging helps to further entomology research, increase accessibility, communicate science, and demonstrate the value of museum collections.