, Volume 73, Issue 4, pp 525–532

Photographic estimation of photosynthetically active radiation: evaluation of a computerized technique

  • R. L. Chazdon
  • C. B. Field
Original Papers

DOI: 10.1007/BF00379411

Cite this article as:
Chazdon, R.L. & Field, C.B. Oecologia (1987) 73: 525. doi:10.1007/BF00379411


We describe a computerized technique for the analysis of hemispherical photographs of sites within plant canopies. The analysis yields estimates of canopy openness, a summary of the spatial distribution of canopy openings, estimates of direct and diffuse site factors, predicted times and durations of sunflecks for any date, and predicted daily courses of photosynthetically active photon flux density (PFD) for any date and for horizontal as well as inclined surfaces. By comparing estimates from photographs with measured values in 32 tropical forest microsites, we evaluate this technique and assess its potential and limitations. In sites of widely varying light availability, and with predictions specific to leaves at various angles, measured daily PFD correlated strongly (r=0.908) with predictions from photographs. Measured daily PFD was also closely correlated with estimates, from the photographs, of diffuse and direct site factors (r>0.8). Differences between predictions and measurements were proportionately largest in heavily shaded sites. Under clear conditions, this technique reliably predicted both daily PFD and the temporal pattern of PFD including predicting suflecks lasting more than a few minutes. However, temporal patterns of PFD predicted from photographs differ in potentially important details from measured patterns.

Key words

MethodsLight measurementForestHemispherical photography

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • R. L. Chazdon
    • 1
  • C. B. Field
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Plant BiologyCarnegie Institution of WashingtonStanfordUSA
  2. 2.Department of BotanyUniversity of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA