Joanie and I have been working on a quick and efficient imaging station where we can strip the labels off specimens for imaging (see images below).
Although there are several concerns about removing labels for imaging (slower, more handling, more potential damage, lost/mixed up labels),
I feel strongly that it is necessary for our goals. Too many labels are difficult to read (information is obscured or at an odd angle for reading).
If our Zooniverse collaboration is to be successful we need to provide higher quality images (higher resolution, better visibility of label text).
Considering how much time we spend teasing labels apart, I do not think this will add much more time (this claim has been tested and proved true).
Here is how it works:
1. Imaging station: Copy stand with camera and lights mounted in fixed positions.
2. Specimen stage: One specimen on stage at a time. Labels stripped into place (little positioning necessary). Specimen pinned at same height as labels, with ruler.
3. Image capture: After labels are stripped in place and specimen positioned, photo is taken from computer tethered to prefocused camera.
4. Image renaming: The RemoteCapture software that comes with the camera automatically increments UID numbers while photographing.
... IrfanView (free) software is used to batch process the appending of genus and species names to the filename.
5. Labels put back on pins by stabbing labels in-place, then using a pinning block to slide labels into place.
Total cost per station: $300 + $30 + $75 + $10 = ~$415 + tax + shipping
$300-$500 Canon Powershot G9 or G10 can be controlled from computer using the RemoteCapture software that comes with the camera.
Digital SLR cameras would also work very well, but are more expensive. Point-and-Shoot cameras cannot be controlled from the computer.
$30 copy stand
$75 copy lights (maybe just get arms and use our own lights)
< $10 specimen stage (built from plastic tray, balsa wood, and foam)
Accomodates large and small specimens
Specimens can be pinned into the balsa side walls for lateral views.