Studying Mushrooms > Scanning Mushrooms


Scanning Mushrooms

by Michael Kuo

Scanning mushrooms is an easy and incredibly effective way to illustrate them. The many scans at this Web site have been reduced in quality to accomodate Internet use--but if you'd like to see an example of the kind of detail a scanner produces, without a reduction in image quality, click the picture of Omphalotus illudens to the right. The file is nearly 1/4 megabyte in size--and I have only offered a tiny portion of the scan.

What kind of scanner do I need?

Any flat-bed scanner will work. The better the scanner, the better the scans. The scan of Omphalotus illudens to the right was done with a relatively expensive scanner (an Epson Perfection 2450), but wonderful scans can be made with less expensive scanners. (Bear in mind that I am writing this in January of 2003; given the rate at which digital equipment advances, you may well find there are better scanners for less money by the time you are reading this.)

What settings do I use?

You will have to experiment. I use my scanner's full-color setting, at 400 dpi on a 100% scale. I have adjusted gamma, highlight, and shadow values to scan mushrooms, but my recommendation is that you find settings that you like best by experimenting. My settings create huge files, even after I have converted the files to jpeg format--but I have an enormous hard drive to store them on. You may want to alter settings to create smaller files if space is an issue for you.

Setting up the scanner and scanning mushrooms

You will need to elevate a background four to six inches above the scanner. This means removing the lid completely and placing the background on some kind of support. I use a piece of poster board balanced on two plastic soup base containers, but you may want to come up with something a little more high-tech. Experiment with background colors; white backgrounds and dark backgrounds produce different effects that may be more or less appropriate for the kind of image you want to create.

Place the mushrooms on the scanner, remembering that the image will be reversed in the scan; what is on your left will be on the right in the finished image. I usually place a penny on the glass for size comparison. Be sure to arrange the mushrooms so they display all of their important features. Slice one in half, if you can, to illustrate what is on the inside. Place some caps right-side up, and others upside-down. If there is a pore surface that bruises, knick it with a knife before setting it on the glass. Super-high-quality scans can take quite some time, but with settings like those above your wait should be less than a minute.

I recommend converting your images to jpeg format right away. If you are illustrating specimens you have collected, and you have a numbering system for your collections, it is a good idea to give the images file names that correspond to your system.

One last point: When you e-mail your scans to someone, make sure you remember to reduce the size of the image (and the size of the file) before you go sending things through cyberspace. Many people's mailboxes would fill up completely with the tiny portion of the Omphalotus illudens scan I have linked above!


A scanner set up for mushrooms

Omphalotus illudens

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Kuo, M. (2003). Scanning mushrooms. Retrieved from the MushroomExpert.Com Web site: