Phototank setup and focus stack imaging method for reptile and amphibian specimens (Amphibia, Reptilia) Public Deposited

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  • Fluid-preserved reptile and amphibian specimens are challenging to photograph with traditional methods due to their complex three-dimensional forms and reflective surfaces when removed from solution. An effective approach to counteract these issues involves combining focus stack photography with the use of a photo immersion tank. Imaging specimens beneath a layer of preservative fluid eliminates glare and risk of specimen desiccation, while focus stacking produces sharp detail through merging multiple photographs taken at successive focal steps to create a composite image with an extended depth of field. This paper describes the wet imaging components and focus stack photography workflow developed while conducting a large-scale digitization project for targeted reptile and amphibian specimens housed in the University of Colorado Museum of Natural History Herpetology Collection. This methodology can be implemented in other collections settings and adapted for use with fluid-preserved specimen types across the Tree of Life to generate high-quality, taxonomically informative images for use in documenting biodiversity, remote examination of fine traits, inclusion in publications, and educational applications.


Date Issued
  • 2022
Additional Information
  • Publication of this article was funded by the University of Colorado Boulder Libraries Open Access Fund.
Academic Affiliation
Journal Title
Journal Issue/Number
  • 1134
Last Modified
  • 2022-12-09
Resource Type
Rights Statement
  • 1313-2970


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