How to take good photos for a report

Why are good photos important?

To assist our team to respond to your report quickly and accurately, we rely on good quality photos to enable us to determine if your pest or disease is of biosecurity concern.

Good quality images are enough to rule out an exotic pest or disease in most cases. If the images lead us to believe that the report is suspect, this also means we can act fast to determine next steps.

Focus, focus, focus

  • clear, in focus, photos are essential
  • good quality photos allow the expert to see features and enlarge the image and see finer details
  • always submit highest resolution photos rather than reduced file size versions
  • if your camera is struggling to focus on the object, moving your hand behind the focal point can assist your camera to focus better

Figure 1 Alt text for images left to right: 1. Photo of a bumble bee in focus on purple flowers as an example of a good photo. 2. Photo of a bumble bee out of focus on a green plant as an example of a poorly focussed image. 3. Photo of a brown and yellow leaf beetle in focus on a green leaf to demonstrate a good photo. 4. A photo of five house flies out of focus on white paper towel to show an example of a poorly focussed image.

Photographing insects and other invertebrates

  • images of the whole insect or invertebrate are useful to assist with identification
  • live pests (if you have captured them) can be placed in the freezer for an hour to enable photographing without it moving
  • multiple photos at different angles and showing the top, sides and underside of the suspect pest is desirable
  • where possible include an object like a coin, ruler or pen in your photo for scale

Figure 2 Alt text for images left to right: 1. Photo of a striped caterpillar in a U-shaped position on a branch of a eucalyptus tree to show an example of a good photo of a whole insect 2. A photo of the underside of native brown stink bug on the trunk of a cut down tree to demonstrate photos from multiple angles of an insect 3. Photo of a brown stink bug in a hand to show a good photo that shows size scale 4. Photo of a match stick head with small yellow insects on the match head to demonstrate using an object to show size scale in a photo

Photographing plant diseases

  • for plant disease reports, ensure you take photos of the symptoms as well as the whole plant/tree (include the ground or pot it is planted in)
  • ensure symptom photos are clear and in focus, with adequate lighting
  • is it helpful to get photos of the top and underside of leaves showing symptoms

Figure 3 Alt text for images left to right: 1. Photo of a green tomato leaf with yellowing and powdery mildew on it to demonstrate a good, in-focus photo of plant disease symptoms.  2. A photo of a plant leaf being held in a hand that is far away and out of focus to show a poor photo that is not helpful for diagnostics.  3. A photo of a whole plant in the ground to demonstrate the need for an overall plant photo to assist with disease assessment.  4. A dark photo of some plant leaves that demonstrates a poorly lit photo that is difficult to assess.

Using a macro lens

  • for small pests or symptoms, you can also use a macro lens attachment if you have one to get higher quality, close-up images.
  • put the lens together by screwing the lens onto the clip and removing the cover.
  • position the lens over the back of the phone, taking care not to overlap the camera lens.
  • get up close and personal to your insect or plant symptoms to capture photos
  • it can be useful to take a video of your pest, especially if they are moving, then you can then take screenshots/freeze-frames of the video when the pest is in a good position and in focus.

Figure 4 Alt text for images from left to right: 1. Photo of a hand holding a macrolens device that can be used as an attachment to phones and tablets to take higher resolution photos of small pests and disease symptoms 2. Photo of a macrolens attached to an iPhone to show how it should be used. 3. Photo of a whole green leaf with white spots on it taken with a phone from far away. 4. Photo of the same green leaf taken with a macrolens attached to an iPhone showing a few mealybugs up close at high magnification in clear focus.

Reporting an unusual plant pest or disease

Report any unusual plant pest or disease immediately using our online reporting system or by calling the Exotic Plant Pest Hotline on 1800 084 881. Early reporting increases the chance of effective control and eradication.

Please take multiple good quality photos of the pests or damage to include in your report where possible, as this is essential for rapid pest and disease diagnosis and response.

Your report will be responded to by an experienced staff member who may seek more information about the detection and explain next steps.

Report online

Page last updated: 03 May 2024