Guidelines & Suggestions for Image Capture of Catfishes

Objectives of ACSI are to capture and webserve quality digital images of:
1. All primary types of catfishes (highest priority)
2. All species of catfishes
3. Supplemental images related to catfishes and publications

All images must be submitted to ACSI in digital format (funds may be requested for large-scale projects to scan prints or 35mm slides). Applications for image-capture projects should include a few sample images for review. Sample images can be submitted via e-mail attachment to Mark Sabaj. Images captured by projects funded by ACSI must be submitted (i.e., uploaded) to ACSImagebase (under development) with appropriate documentation (e.g., taxonomic name, museum catalog number, etc.). The photographer (and/or institution) retains copyrights of all images uploaded to ACSImagebase. By uploading an image, you are giving ACSI permission to display the image on its website with proper accreditation.

Proposals for large-scale imaging projects (especially of type specimens) may request funds for cameras and other photographic equipment provided each item costs less than $1000 and is purchased as "supplies". Examples of other equipment needed for imaging specimens includes: copy stand, glass pane, matte board for background, light sources, polarizing lens filter, memory cards, memory card reader, CD's and CD burner for institution-based archiving, software (e.g., Adobe Photoshop Basics), etc.

Please review the following guidelines and suggestions for large-scale image-captures of type specimens .

Guidelines for projects involving large-scale image-capture of type specimens

Specimens to be Imaged — All primary type specimens (holotypes, lectotypes, neotypes and syntypes). In cases where no lectotype has been designated, all syntype specimens should be digitally imaged. When multiple syntypes are cataloged with the same museum catalog number (e.g., ANSP 9999), each syntype specimen should be assigned an individual "specimen identifier" number (1 of 3, 2 of 3, 3 of 3).

Views — One lateral, one dorsal and one ventral view of the entire specimen placed aside a metric ruler or other standard unit of metric measure (see: California Academy of Sciences primary types imagebase for examples). Care should be taken when positioning the specimen so that it does not appear "tilted" in a particular view. For example, the sagittal plane of the specimen (plane bisecting bilaterally symmetric animals) should be aligned with the camera lens in dorsal and ventral views. If a researcher believes he/she can correctly identify a type specimen using a more localized view (e.g., close-up of abdominal region), additional images may be requested on a case-by-case basis.

Image Capture & Composition — The specimen should be well and evenly illuminated and imaged against a uniform background that provides a good contrast with the specimen (e.g., flat black, dull blue, neutral gray). When imaging specimens in air (i.e., not immersed in water), we strongly suggest using a polarizing lens filter adjusted to minimize glare. Developing a method for taking useful digital images of fish specimens requires practice and techniques may vary among individuals. For some helpful tips on imaging specimens based on my (MHS) and others' experiences, click here.

Image Quality (File Format)
TIFF — Recommended for image capture
JPEG (compression ratio 1/4 or greater) — Acceptible for image capture, recommended for submitting to ACSImagebase
Most digital cameras take both TIFF (no file compression) and JPEG (file compressed) images. TIFF images are of higher quality and require more camera time and memory to save. We recommend capturing images as TIFF files for permanent archiving at your institution (or with ACSI). JPEG images are compressed and will slowly deteriorate each time they are re-saved. For webserving, a high quality JPEG image (compression ratio 1/4 or greater) works best. We recommend submitting high quality JPEG images for presentation via the ACSI website.

Image Size — 2272 x 1704 pixels or greater
Image size refers to the physical dimensions of the image measured in pixels. An image taken at 2272 x 1704 pixels will yield a print about 19 x 14 cm (7.5 x 5.5 inches) at 300 dpi. An image size of 2272 x 1704 pixels corresponds to the highest possible setting on a 4.0 Mega Pixel camera (e.g., Nikon Coolpix 4500). At this size, a TIFF image will be about 9 or 10 MB, a JPEG about 1 MB.

Naming Images — All images must have the appropriate file extension at the end of their name: .tif (for TIFF images) or .jpg (for JPEG images). The name you choose for the image should be as informative as possible and contain no "spaces" to maximize utility in a cross-platform environment. For example: T_steindac_MSNG8834_1V.jpg would refer to an ventral ("V") view image of 1 of 17 syntypes of Trachydoras steindachneri cataloged as MSNG 8834 at the Museo Civico di Storia Naturale di Genova ‘Giacomo Doria’, Genova, Italy.


Images submitted to the ACSImagbase will be annotated with the information that you provide via the submission webpages. You may wish to further annotate each individual image with "metadata" that is stored within the image file itself. Doing this ultimately improves the "portability" of information associated with your image. However, "metadata" is not required if you use the ACSI imagebase webpages to submit your images.

Additional File Info (Metadata) — Options for adding the following information may vary for Mac and PC computers, and may not be available with all graphics software. We recommend using Adobe Photoshop for processing images on a computer. When you open an image file in Photoshop, there is an option on the menu bar called "File info…". When this option is chosen you are given a window for entering text that will be permanently tied to your image file. Try selecting the "Caption" option from the drop-down menu under the heading "Section" (this is the default choice). The kind of information you may wish to add here may include:
1. Full taxon name (as originally published or as indicated on type label if unknown)
2. Museum abbreviation and catalog number (e.g., ANSP 9999).
If there are more than 1 specimen per catalog number (as for most syntypes), individual number of specimen (e.g., ANSP 9999, 1 of 3)
3. Type status (holotype, lectotype, neotype, syntype)
4. Photographer's name as it should be credited
5. Date image created (using ISO Format numeric yyyy-mm-dd or spelled out)
6. Copyright statement
7. Standard Length in mm. Photographer is encouraged to take and record standard length of each specimen with the understanding that its precision will depend on his or her familiarity with such measures.