Taking Pictures of Wild Ginseng

Point and click right? Well, not so fast. There are some very basic points to consider if you want to send a picture of ginseng to a buyer or impress those who know ginseng.

Taking Pictures of Wild Ginseng

From time to time, you may need or want to take pictures of your ginseng to show others. If you just want a picture for the scrapbook, well, snap away! However, if you really want to impress someone in the business, you need to put a little care into your pictures.

As a buyer, I sometimes buy ginseng from folks too far away just to drop by. I will often ask them to send pictures of their ginseng to see if it is the type of root for which I am looking. I have seen some great pictures! I know I have taken pictures in the woods with a cell phone and nothing to gauge size of the plants by other than my squirrel rifle. Cool picture yes, but one could hardly determine approximate value of the roots without a better job of taking the pictures.

Size Comparison
The most common thing missing in pictures of ginseng is a commonly accepted size comparison. It is simple really. Just lay a pen or a dollar bill on top or next to the ginseng. Everyone knows how big the dollar bill or pen really is. This gives a nice size comparison by which a buyer can get an approximation of value for your ginseng.

You can see some of my pictures are on the grading table and others on a plain white bed sheet. Both work, but the white background is better. The grading table is made of wood and a border of pine to keep the finer roots from falling off. I have not painted this table. Therefore, the background is made up of various wood tones and colors. Most importantly, the colors are all more tan than white. This tends to make the roots look lighter in color than they actually are. Alternately, when using a plain white bed sheet as a background, there are no patterns to interfere with the viewing of the ginseng, and the white background seems ideal to show the true color of the roots.

Flash or no flash? I say no flash. I think the pictures look better and the colors more accurate when taken with natural light and no flash. A flash seems to bleach out the colors of the roots and make them look paler. I also think the best pictures are taken outside on a decent day.

You certainly do not need to spend a fortune on a new camera. Most people have a relatively decent digital camera that will do just fine. Digital pictures work well because of the ease with which they may be transferred via email. A micro setting is also a very handy feature.

How close
Try to keep your pictures focused on the ginseng. Your car may be cool and shiny, but if you want to dealer to be impressed, keep it to the task at hand. A nice over-all picture of the entire lot of ginseng is good. Nevertheless, you also need to show some closer detail in some of your pictures. Normally, the pictures show good detail with a micro setting on my camera if taken from eighteen to thirty-six inches away. Don't forget to keep the dollar bill somewhere in the frame for size comparison.

~ Brad

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