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ARS Home » Northeast Area » Beltsville, Maryland (BARC) » Beltsville Agricultural Research Center » Systematic Entomology Laboratory » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #317560

Research Project: Systematics of Parasitic and Herbivorous Wasps of Agricultural Importance

Location: Systematic Entomology Laboratory

Title: Advanced imaging techniques III: a scalable and modular dome illumination system for scientific microphotography on a budget

Author
item Kawada, R.
item Buffington, Matthew

Submitted to: PLoS One
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 3/29/2016
Publication Date: 5/3/2016
Citation: Kawada, R., Buffington, M.L. 2016. Advanced imaging techniques III: a scalable and modular dome illumination system for scientific microphotography on a budget. PLoS One. 11(5):e0153426. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0153426.

Interpretive Summary: Effective illustration enhances the scientific content of any work on the classification of insects. The combination of descriptive text and clear, color images help users of the information understand the species being described. Extremely small insects, on the order of 0.5-1.5mm adult length, can confound this process. We have developed a lighting system for photographing such small insects that is both modular and scalable. Further, the system can be built, by hand, using basic tools, saving researchers time and money. This system will be extremely useful to systematic entomologists, extension agents, and biological control workers that need to photograph small insects.

Technical Abstract: A scalable and modular LED illumination dome for microscopic scientific photography is described and illustrated, and methods for constructing such a dome are detailed. Dome illumination for insect specimens has become standard practice across the field of insect systematics, but many dome designs remain expensive and inflexible with respect to new LED technology. Further, a one-size-fits-all dome cannot accommodate the large breadth of insect size encountered in nature, forcing the photographer to adapt, in some cases, to a less than ideal dome design. The dome described here is scalable, as its based on a isodecahedron, and the template for the dome is available as a downloaded file from the internet that can printed on any printer, on the photographer’s choice of media. As a result, a photographer can afford, using this design, to produce a series of domes of various sizes and materials, and LED ring lights of various sizes and color temperatures, depending on the need.