Gigapixel Macro Photography of Tree Rings

Daniel Griffin, Samantha T Porter, Matthew L. Trumper, Kate E. Carlson, Daniel J. Crawford, Daniel Schwalen, Colin H. McFadden

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


High quality specimen digitization is becoming standard across the sciences, is relevant for curation of natural history collections, and must become a priority for dendrochronology. This paper overviews the enduring role of imaging in dendrochronology, summarizes the potential relevance of gigapixel macro photography of polished specimens, offers a long-term review of a commercial imaging system, and reports our progress imaging entire collections of specimens at ultra-high resolution. Our gigapixel images of polished specimens have proven effective for digital analyses, archiving, and education, and we believe macro photography may prove a lower cost and more broadly accessible digitization alternative to microtomy and X-rays. We advocate for gigapixel macro photography as one accessible and adaptable paradigm to elevate reflected light imaging standards in dendrochronology.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86-94
Number of pages9
JournalTree-Ring Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jul 20 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was conducted through collaboration with the UMN Advanced Imaging Service for Objects and Spaces, and was made possible by support from the UMN Office of the Vice Provost for Research, the UMN Office of Undergraduate Research, the UMN College of Liberal Arts, the UMN Liberal Arts Technologies & Innovation Services, NSF DEB Award #1655144, and NSF AGS Awards #1602633 and #1903504. We are grateful to Bethany Coulthard, Jesper Björklund, Bryan Black, Kristen Griffin, Julie Edwards, Kurt Kipf-mueller, Paul Krusic, David Stahle, and Georg von Arx for conversations that informed this work. The manuscript benefited substantively from insightful feedback from two anonymous reviewers and guidance from Associate Editor Gretel Boswijk.

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2021 by the Tree-Ring Society.


  • archiving
  • computational photography
  • curation
  • data development
  • digitization
  • quantitative wood anatomy


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