Instructions for Preparing a Rapid Color Guide

Instructions for Preparing a Rapid Color Guide                   Español    Português

Most people are now using digital cameras, and we now make most rapid guides using photos from such cameras. However, if you do have slides/transparencies or negatives you want to use, these are often better quality than digital, and we can scan and digitally crop them to the correct dimensions and optimal resolution, etc. We can reimburse for sending them on temporary loan via express mail (e.g. DHL or FedEx so that there is no danger of the originals being lost). Prints on paper can also be scanned, but the resolution is usually not as good to begin with as a negative or slide.

If you have a digital camera or a good scanner for your slides, the easiest is to use the web programs of “MediaFire” or “Yousendit” (Express) to send images and folders. We now have a yousendit "dropbox" at: which you can use at no cost. Using copies of the original images or near originals, you must make a compressed/zipped folder of the images that you want to use for a guide . The original folder remains intact, and your new compressed folder becomes a "file" (up to 2Gig) which you can choose for the dropbox. (write us for more instructions if compressing is a problem). After you click "send", we can download them from the web.

You can also put the digital images on a CD and mail it; or, send as many as you can at a time as attachments to e-mails (up to 10 meg per e-mail). It is helpful to send us a list of the species names that go with each image file name (long file names of images are sometimes cut off when burning a CD or transferring from one computer system to another). Also you should suggest an appropriate guide title, and list authors, photographers, institutions, or other acknowledgements you think appropriate to include -- remembering there is not much space in the title section.

You can send images of any format or dimensions and we will use Photoshop to convert and crop (cut) them to our standard shape. Since we use a vertical "portrait" orientation for most of our plant guides, it helps if the photos are in this orientation, but we can also rotate the image or crop a vertical section through a horizontal image, thus losing some of the image, although for most people's images we need to zoom in anyway. We also have templates for doing only horizontal "landscape" orientation of pictures, often best for animals, or using square images. Mixing orientations is possible but more complicated and results in fewer images per page, and is not recommended.

To produce the small JPEG images of plants for the guides, which are 500 pixels high by 375 pixels wide at 250 dpi and from 100 to 200 K in size (quality 8), it is best for us to have copies of original photos to work with in Photoshop that are at least 1 megabyte in size. The images you send can be larger, but that greater depth will not improve the small images for the guides. The advantage of a larger image is, if it is sharp, it will allow one to zoom into and cut out different parts of the image and still maintain quality, e.g. zoom into a picture of a flowering branch and get a nice close-up picture of the flowers or a leaf, in addition to the branch as a whole. It is more important that an image is in sharp focus than to have high resolution, and for several reasons, pictures taken with digital cameras are much more likely to be out of focus, no matter how many megapixels.

The originals can be smaller, e.g. 0.5 megabyte or smaller, and be tolerable, but are usually not as sharp, and give less flexibility for zooming in or for improvement in Photoshop. We recommend that pictures be taken with a flash or with a dark background so that the surroundings do not distract from the subject. It takes more time and trouble to darken or blur the surroundings in Photoshop. Read more on photography suggestions.

We will send you a test version of your guide for editing before making it available to the public, and there is usually some back-and-forth before a public version is ready. One filled page of a guide is usually 3-4meg in size (150-200K x 20 images). You will receive the MS Word files and PDF to use as you like, and we will print and laminate for free ~20+ sheets (2-sided) of the guides for you to use or sell. If you want to produce large quantities you will have to make special arrangements with us, or print them yourself. The author or author's institution will be co-copyright holder with our department of the pages. The photographers retain copyright to the individual photos, which can be used again in other publications in larger format with no problem.

And of course you can make a link from your own (or institution's) web page to your color guide on our site. You can also put your guide directly up on your own site, although the advantage of having it on just our site is that we track the number of downloads every week and to what countries, if that is useful for you to know.

Let us know if we should not include your pictures of plants in the Neotropical Live Plant Photos section of our web site. On this site the copyright credit of the photographer is included with each picture, as well as any notes you want, and a link can be included that takes visitors from our site to your own website or any other address. If anyone requests to use your photo in another publication or website, the request will be passed on to you.