Canola School: Taking High Quality Diagnostic Photos


With a smartphone in their pocket, every farmer, farm employee, or agronomist is now also a photographer.

The ability to share pictures from the field has dramatically improved how farmers and agronomists communicate and diagnose issues.

However, the information gleaned from a cellphone photo can only be as good as the original picture. A poor photo won’t tell you anything, while a clear image will lead to a faster and more accurate diagnosis.

“We get, as Canola Council agronomists and retail agronomists, pictures of problems in the field on a regular basis, with a very focused background and a very blurry foreground where the plant of concern is, with a question of ‘what is this?'” explains Canola Council agronomy specialist Gregory Sekuli?. “So what we’re trying to do is teach people how to use their smartphone to take better pictures of things they find in the field.”

(Photo by Gregory Sekulic)
(Photo by Gregory Sekulic)

In this Canola School throwback to CanolaPalooza at Lacombe, Sekuli? and Scott Gillies, of Azara Effect Productions, explain some of the key points to consider when taking diagnostic photos:

  • Use a solid-coloured piece of paper or a clean background that’s different from the subject matter
  • Shade the subject so sunlight doesn’t cause overexposure
  • Use flash on sunny days to reduce shadows
  • Most smartphone cameras focus best when you maintain some distance between the lens and the subject matter — don’t get too close, especially when photographing insects or dinosaurs!
  • Take lots of pictures — increase the odds of getting a clear photo. And make sure to tap on the screen where you want it to focus
  • You can buy smartphone camera kits with magnetized lenses that increase the range of the camera
  • Include something in the frame for scale, such as a coin.

Check out the video below for more in-field photography tips from Gregory and Scott:

Watch more from the Canola School here.

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