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About Making Guides

Instructions for Preparing a Rapid Color Guide

Posting Independently Designed Guides

Rapid Fotos of Plants in the Tropics

Preliminary field guides to plants are a valuable tool for biologists, students, local communities, and tourists. The guides provide critical information where there may be no other resources available for learning or identification of plants. While the production of a formal flora takes much time and expense, the ease with which these guides are rapidly produced and updated ensures that some information is available right away.

Color photo field guides of live plants provide a highly portable means for quick learning, both by beginners and by advanced students who want to recognize plants by sight in the field. Students can start with the conspicuous plants and then move on to more complete color guides to a flora, as photos become available. They are especially useful in courses and can be tailored to individual field sites.

Even where other guides are available, the price, portability or language may make them inaccessible to many people in the regions where they are most needed. That our guides reduce such barriers, means they can complement the more detailed guides to floras and more readily meet the urgency and scale of the current need for identification tools in the field.

How we make them
  • We scan slides or negatives using a dedicated slide scanner (e.g. Nikon Coolscan or Polaroid SprintScan), or import digital images from a digital camera. We zoom-in and crop the image as appropriate for the relative dimensions of the images needed for the guide (usually 1.5/2), and create an image of about 1meg in the computer (with 800-1200% magnification from slides) having a resolution of 72 pixels per inch.

  • With these images we adjust the quality (e.g. with Adobe Photoshop) including adjustment of: brightness, contrast, sharpness or hue, and do some burning or dodging where needed. We then reduce the image size to the size needed for the guide while increasing the resolution of the image to 250 pixels per inch (creating an image usually between 100 and 200k). Inset images are added as needed.

  • We save these reduced-size high-resolution images as JPEGs and later insert them one by one into a guide template in a word processor (e.g. Microsoft Word) consisting of a table for the photos and accompanying text.

  • We print the document at high resolution, e.g. 1400 dpi (e.g. Epson Stylus, H.P., or others) and use specially coated paper (Photo Quality Ink Jet Paper).

  • Two pages are placed back to back and laminated to protect them from wear and tear in the field. Paper can be pre-cut to create larger margins of plastic for hole-punching.

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