For Photographs (Slides) and Their Transfer to "the Web"
made from 35mm slides of Kodachrome 64 (rarely Kodachrome 25) and, after Eastman
Kodak took away our kodachrome, Fujichrome Provia 100F.
A Nikon FM camera and, later, a Nikon FM2 with a 28mm (occasionally a 20mm) Nikkor lense was used for all landscape photographs except for the tundra slides for which a Cannon AE1 was used. (Technical note on equipment: the Nikon FM is far superior to the newer FM2 which, contrary to company lies, has a much inferior light meter than the FM. Standard batteries for Nikon light meters last roughly three to five times longer in the FM than in the FM2 because the meter of the FM2 stays on--thereby discharging batteries--for extended periods after the film advance lever is closed.) Close-up slides of range plants were taken using a Macro-Nikkor 50mm lense. All photographps were taken using natural light (ie. no strobs, flashes, etc.) and, with almost no exceptions other than inside forests, in full sunlight. All photographs, including those of range plants, were taken in natural habitats. Greenhouse-grown or outdoor potted plants were never used. Nor were plants collected, taken indoors, and photographed in artificial environments. Artificial backdrops--unnatural backgrounds (eg. black paper)--and supplemental lighting were not used. Backgrounds in photographs of range plants were of the environment the plants were growing in. Likewise, fast shutter speeds were not used so as to present plants or specific parts (eg. capitula, legumes, drupes, leaves) as if they were objects floating in space. Photographs of individual plants and plant parts were typically taken at slow speeds (1/15 to 1/60 second) so as to achieve greater depth of field and present more detail of plant organs as well as the background of their natural environment. Hence, plants or portions thereof (eg. inflorescences, leaves, culms) generally were not presented as isolated objects in a photographic "black hole". Such presentation made it less convenient to focus on the featured plant or plant part, but this is the natural, in-the- field, on-the-range situation. Plants and their organs are not independent objects hovering in blank space. Rangemen have to separate "the wheat from the chaff".
Small plant parts such as spikelets were photographed either intack on the plant or, when extremely small, laying on adjacent objects including land (soil), rocks, tree downfall (eg. limbs, boles), or litter ("straw" or stubble). Clarity of plant details (eg. awns, general pubescence, veins, floral reproductive organs) was restricted to what could be portrayed in the naturally occurring atmosphere (light, temperature, wind) at time of photographs. Wind-blown plants (or parts thereof) served to remind viewers that wind, the bane of outdoor plant photographers, is a naturally occurring and important factor in the range environment. Sexual reproduction in many range plant species, including the grasses, depends on wind for dispersal of pollen and most fruit propagules.
This publication was about range plant communities--vegetation--and applied synecology not taxonomy and morphology. Range Types was designed to present and describe range vegetation based on reputable, reliable published sources of natural vegetation, especially rangeland and forest cover types, range sites, and habitat types founded on the Clementsian climax model. Range Types was not intended as an on-line field guide or aid to identification of range plant species.
Some forms of macrophotography require special image-modifiction to show minute details (eg. nerves on lemmas), but this was not necessary at the level of macrolense shots as portrayed in the current publication, 1:2 (0.5X) up to 1:1 or life size (1X) with PK-13 extension ring. As such, macrolense photographs of grass inflorescences (down to spikelet-scale) presented herein were taken in the range habitat in which the plants grew, with outdoor light and without computer augmentation, enhancement, or other alterations. Macrophotographic images of range plants, including grass and sedge spikelets, are available in several outstanding field guides.
When slides were scanned and converted to JPEGs (see below) and saved using Adobe Photo-Shop, the images were not optimized or otherwise modified except for infrequent, standard cropping along the edges. In this author's experience both Hewlett-Packard and Epson scanners failed to properly scan many slides leaving them much too dark (as if inadequate quantitites of light penetrated slides). Such incorrectly lighted/scanned images had to be corrected back to the brightness of the original photographs using contrast adjustment in Adobe Photo-Shop. This constitued restortion to the original image and not a modification of the original picture. (Correcting technology had to be used to reverse improper image reproduction caused by substandard performance of scanning equipment.)
In effect, all images were unretouched photographs. There was no editing of images through elaborate computer programs such as Adobe Photo-Shop (ie. slide images were not "digitally airbrushed" or otherwise "doctored"). Any "blemishes" in vegetation or unwanted extraneous objects (overlooked trash or garbage from litterbugs, passersby, fences, power lines, roads, shaded spots) were retained and displayed herein as taken in original photographs. What the photographer "saw and shot" through the camera is what viewers now see. If "trashy" visitors, "hatchet-happy" workers, or careless employees marred the range landscape such desecration, laziness, and apathy was visible to viewers. Rangelands and forests are managed by human beings--for better or for worse. Honesty in photography requires retention of blemishes and injury (including those inflicted by human action), or at least, acknowlegment of modified images if and when images were altered from original photographs. Again, such image-altering methods were not employed in this on-line publication.
The two major objectives from standpoint of color, form, key features, and representativeness was for accuracy as percieved by the human eye. For these reasons the slow-speed Kodachrome and, after betrayal by Kodak, Provia film was used at full light. This allowed the most accurate portrayal of color in combination with maximum depth of field. Sometimes these two joint objectives were somewhat in conflict and required compromises. For example, light pastel-like colors were sometimes partially "bleached out" in bright direct light. One alternative was to "shoot" them in indirect light or early morning and/or late evening light. Then there would be no depth of field on macrolense photographs of plants and lower stems and leaves could not be presented (ie. pastel petals were "captured" but much or most of the rest of the plant shoot was lost). The second alternative was to use a faster film (say, Ectachrome) which would permit more depth of field, but then the color would have been even less accurate because certain colors would be "enhanced" (eg. blue colors shown bluer than they really were as seen by human eyes). Provia 100F did not reproduce as accurately as Kodachrome the bold, rich colors of the oranges, reds, and yellows. Provia 100F was usually superior for scanning. This was especially true for the brown, amber, gray colors of dead leaves of monocotyledons which with Kodachrome tended to have a "sparkled" or "glazed" aspect that resulted in an inaccurate and very disappointing "chrystalized" appearance.
The two chief criteria of accurate color combined with maximum depth of field possible were deemed especially critical in presenting range and forest plants at maximum detail yet with accurate human-perceived color. It was not the objective to show "pretty pictures of wild flowers", to enhance colors such as blues or greens, or to show landscapes in unusual shades or tones of light so as to create some "wierd special effect". For example, the long-shadows effect of early morning or late evening (dawn-dusk shots) may make "Oh, neato!" pictures, but they are representative of but a fraction of total time of daylight compared to those of full-sun. This is especially the situation on grasslands, shrublands, alpine, marshes, and barrens.
Unfortunately, the actual color of range plants, vegetation, soils, and geologic features as perceived by human eyes that was achieved by Kodachrome was not (could not be) reproduced by any of the scanners used to convert slides to JPEGs. Colors (especially reds, yellows, and greens) shown in this publication differed substantially from real or true color captured on Kodachrome or, even, Fujichrome due to poor color-reproducing capacities of the scanners used (brands and models given below).
A tripod was never used. Experienced photographers, especially those who grew up as riflemen, can use breath control effectively enough to take crisp shots routinely at 1/30 second and, usually, at 1/15 second. The "weak link" of plant and landscape photography is wind not photographer shake. For instance, a windy day on the High Plains will blurr a grass inflorescence at 1/100 second more than will photographer shake at 1/15 second deep in a bluff- sheltered, bottomland forest. Range plant photographers often have to follow the rhythm of swaying plants and "follow through on their swing" (or wait for a rare still split-second). Using a tripod to photograph plants on range (environmnents with almost always some breeze) is like trying to shoot waterfowl with a stationary shotgun.
Slides were saved as JPEG files. Slides of the first edition were scanned or read into a Hewlett-Packard Scan Jet 6100C scanner. For the second edition a Hewlett-Packard Scan Jet 7400C-Scan Jet XPA unit was used. This latter equipment had capacity to scan four slides at a time and was therefore about four times faster than the Scan Jet 6100C scanner, but the latter did a superior jub because it did not require cropping of scanned material. Furthermore, the HP 6100C was many times more accurate in the scanning procedure. It allowed consistent scanning even into rounded corners (which can be seen in slides of the first edition). By contrast the HP 7400C was very crude and approximate. Scanning and cropping was very much a skilled art form that even with the most skill overcropped and eliminated some critical portions around perimeters of slides or, alternatively, left a small black border around the slide image. Another design flaw of the HP 7400C was that it did not project enough light through the viewing screen to enable the user to see clearly the edges of the slide image. In essence the HP 7400C was a "cap-and-ball contraption". For whatever level of technological sophistication the Hewlett Packard equipment had, it was crude, clumsy, and awkward to use.
For later editions of Range Types an Epson Perfection V700 Photo color scanner was used. This machine had capacity to scan 12 slides in a batch with each slide being scanned individually. Color reproduction by the Epson V700 scanner was much truer to the original color of Kodachrome slides than was the situation with the HP7400C. However, there were major problems with reproduction of slides when using the Epson Perfection V700. Perfection the Epson Perfection V700 was (is) not. Just the opposite. Somehow (for whatever reasons) this scanner put out too much light or had some other malfunction so that at the size shown in this publication (305 X 202) most of the vegetation (especially leaves as, for example, in bunchgrasses) had a "glazed", "frosty", or "shot-to-hell") appearance. At this standardized size it was as if the scanner had not reproduced all of the plant material but instead had missing pieces of foliage. Perhaps the infamous Watergate "tape termite" lived in the Epson V700 and ate out pieces of the JPEG.
The other major exasperating feature of the Epson Perfection V700 Photo color scanner was great inconsistency in scanning. The same slide would be scanned with too much light penetration so that it was bleached out in one 12-slide scanning session and then scanned with so little light in the next scanning session (five to seven minutes after the preceding scanning bout) that the same bleached photographs would now be so dark that images were just barely visible. This phenomenon occurred only when light-colored objects such as white or pastel inflorescences were set against darker surroundings (even if only in the background) such as green grass. An example would be white or pale yellow composites growing with tall shoots of prairie grasses. This improper scanning took place with both Kodachrome and Provia films. Slides projected perfectly and were in correct focus even when viewed without projection, but the Epson Perfection V700 scanner could not adjust to the proper light projection.
To add "insult to injury" representatives of the Epson company would not discuss this matter with the author who was "calm, cool, and collected" (initially). Advice to readers: do not purchase Epson products. In this photographer's experience the Epson corporation does not provide any service or even a courteous "hand-holding" for their equipment.
Likewise, their Epson V700 is a shoddy piece of equipment. The templates or spaces in which slides fit in the slide holder of the Epson V700 are about 1/16th inch oversize (have this much "play") so that when one side of the slide is made to fit against the plastic frame the other side is about 1/16th inch off. This resulted in images being cropped on one side--while the opposite side had the black outline of the slide mount--during scanning. Attempts to guess or "guage" the middle to prevent cropping proved futile. Most of the slides were cropped to a distance of roughly half of to the entire 1/16 inch distance. This distance applied to the size (distance) of a 35 mm slide amounted to substantial cropping and resulted in arbitrary elimination of a sizeable portion of the photographic image.
Finally, the Epson Perfection V700 Photo color scanner was so shoddily built and out of such poor quality materials that the plastic retainers that hold slides in place (plastic clips that press down on slide mounts) starting to wear out (material fatigue) and were in the process of breaking off even before the gentle hands of the author could change about 90 times. These plasttic retaining clips were molded to the plastic frame of the slide-holding template in one piece rather than being made out of quality metal and screwed to a solid, sturdy metal frame. The user had to use a glue on both sides of the retainers to keep them in place and from breaking off. Fortunately J.B. Weld is a much finner product than the "el-gyp-a-go-go" Epson Perfection V700 Photo color scanner which is nothing but an expensive piece of junk. Again, however, Epson Perfection V700 did scan colors more accurately than did the Hewlett-Packard scanners.
The most serious problem with the Epson V700 Non-perfection (even if one ignores the inferior basic workmanship even for a cheap plastic product) remained the "sparkle-like" image (eg. especially of grass leaves and shoots, conifer needles). Many of the plants in slide images scanned by Epson V700 Far-From-Perfection appeared to have been shot with a shotgun instead of a camera. The author invested his own time and money in the "cap-and-ball" V700 and then was stuck with inferior equipment and, worse, unsatisfactory results. This was a much more serious problem with Kodachrome than with Provia film. Furthermore, the Epson V700 results in an unnatural yellow tinge to greens and blues in Kocachrome. The second major problem with the Epson Perfection V700 Photo color scanner was its incapability of correct scanning photographs (35 mm slides) with images of both dark- and light-colored objects like prairie vegetation.
Avoid Epson equipment: they are junk and Epson company representatives are jerks.
The "frosted", "glazed", "sparkled", or "chrystalized" appearance of images was largely absent when images were enlarged, but this author and his assistants did not know how to program this capability into this publication. Rather, viewers can go to Google Images and, after typing in the caption title, get some images (those in later editions) that can be enlarged. Unfortunately, often the Google Image search shows the first photograph in a chapter of many pictures leaving the viewer to scroll down through much of that chapter of Range Types.
The Epson V700 and HP 7400C scanners required approximately the same total amount of time per slide, but the Epson was automatic so that the operator could work simultaneously at other tasks. Overall efficiency and quality/truer reproduction of color made the Epson V700 overwhelmingly superior to the HP 7400C scanner in these features. Unfortunately, as just explained, the Epson Perfection V700 scanner automatically cropped slide images because, like the HP7400C scanner, it could not scan or read into corners of photographs mounted in the 35mm slides. This resulted in the Epson V700 scanner automatically cropping roughly two to three (sometimes about four) percent of the image on some or all of the margins of each photographic image. This automatic cropping frequently resulted in elimination of critical features of plants or landscapes, especially in foregrounds of photographs. Furthermore, automation of the Epson Perfection V700 preculded saving of these parts of the photographs. This automatic loss of features was opposite from the situation with the HP7400C scanner. The HP scanner had to be operated by use of a cursor which could be skilfully manipulated by dexterous use of the computer mouse to save parts of photographs. In other words, automatic operation of the Epson V700 scanner precluded manual manipulation or human overriding of automatic (and apparently unavoidable) cropping of photographs by this brand of scanner. For this feature and purposes of conserving photographic images the HP7400C was superior to the Epson Perfection V700. Best of all for this purpose was the simple little Hewlett-Packard Scan Jet 6100C scanner.
Overall, this author/photographer concluded that both the HP 7400C and the Epson Perfection V700 scanners were marginal for the purpose of copying photographs. Both brands of color scanner had major flaws in design and function and both would have been unsatisfactory for the purpose of this publication except that there appeared to be no other option (unless one waited for technological perfection before posting photographic images on the Internet). This farm boy-author was just grateful that the state of the art in hay-making equipment was much more advanced and satisfactory than that of the newer technology of photographic copying. It was also fortunate that the Nikon FM and FM2 35mm single lens reflex cameras were flawless workhorses that represented perfection for the purpose for which they was made. Scanner manufacturers should take note instead of just taking customers money for inferior equipment.
Much of the difficulty in operation and application of equipment employed in this project likely reflected the "frontier" state of technological advancement in this field of endeavor. That will always be part of the price for being on the forefront, the "frontier of science and education.
A much larger and omnipotent overriding question remains that of permanency of this medium. The more one uses this educational medium, this avenue of knowledge dissemination, the more skeptical he becomes of it's value. If web material is not permanent, if it does have "staying power", it is largely worthless because the medium of web communication is so time-consuming that it cannot possibly justify the inordinant amount of time required to compile knowledge in such packages.
Time will tell.
Advice from the author. Number one: always get a hard copy (those who get the journals "over the net" get nothing lasting). Number two: preserve the "tried and true" media. The finest "WWW." innovations pale beside the great inventions of paper and the printing press (and, for tht matter, chalk and the chalkboard). A good hardbound book and the blackboard will still be functional when computers and their tackle are disintegrating in land fills.
For Writing and Arranging of Text
The first phase of this project was created using Microsoft FrontPage 2000. Most of the text was written using Microsoft Word which was then copied and pasted into the FrontPage. This did not work well as the two programs were not compatable and this procedure resulted in creation of many typographical errors. Slides that had been saved as JPEG files were inserted into the project. The project was copied to a Compact Disk, using a Hewlett-Packard CD-Writer Plus.
The second edition was done in the DreamWeaver program which was a great improvement over Microsoft FrontPage. Microsoft was horrid software for a project of this nature. The basic premise of Microsoft Word seemed to this author to be: "I'm going to think for you because I know better than you do what you want". Software programs that stop the writing of simple correspondence by some paper clip cartoon character insult the intelligence of any literate human being. Simple tasks like typing outlines are essentially impractical in Microsoft software because, again, the programs were written to automatically override the writer which is supposed to be a person not a computer.
Fellow authors were herein warned to avoid Microsoft products "like the plague". Microsoft was a "pox" to earlier versions of Range Types of North America. Dreamweaver programs (eg. Dreamweaver 4) were "head and shoulders above" anything comming out of the Microsoft company whose deplorable features of automatic capitalization, indentions, and other such annoying/distracting capacities both insult the intelligence of the educated user and injure his literate sentence composition. Microsoft products were deemed by this author to be unsatisfactory and awarded the letter grade of F for this purpose.
In short, for all of the sophistication of "web equipment" it remains grossly primitive and underpowered for tasks such as this web project. The Nikon FM camera that was used for over 23 years to take the slides never malfunctioned one time. It performed flawlesly and effortlessly every single time the shutter was depressed. By contrast, all computer hardware and software used in production of Range Types of North America malfunctioned repeatedly. Microsoft Word was dreadful.