About the Technology

Optimal Viewing

The primary purpose of this site is the display of images that have considerable subtlety of color. The site is therefore optimized for use by viewers with displays set at 800 x 600 pixels, and displaying at least 16 bit color (65,000 colors). Viewers using 640 x 480 displays will sometimes find it necessary to scroll the screen horizontally in order to see a whole image, but should otherwise have no problems. Displays showing only 8 bit color (256 colors) will have considerable patchiness in the images, and a lack of accuracy in color reproduction. It is not possible to get truly satisfactory results with color photographs using 8 bit color -- especially when subtle color gradations must be displayed.

Best results will be obtained when using 16 bit ("high color") or 24 bit ("millions of colors" or "true color") settings. The differences between 24 bit and 16 bit color will be noticeable, but 16 bit should be acceptable. Most video arrangements on even older computers will support 16 bit color or better, although many displays will be set at 8 bit color, because that was the manufacturer's default. I encourage viewers to check their manual, and reset to a higher color depth if you find the photos here unsatisfactorily reproduced.

This site was created using Microsoft products, and most checking has been done using Microsoft Internet Explorer. It has also been checked using the current version of Netscape Navigator. The site displays well in Netscape, and adequately in the AOL proprietary browser. However, AOL users are probably well-advised to obtain the latest release of the AOL software, as it contains a version of Microsoft's Internet Explorer as the default browser, and most World Wide Web sites will display more effectively with it. Similarily, Compuserve users should consider upgrading to the current version of the CIS software, as it, too, makes use of Internet Explorer. Both AOL and CIS have made these versions of their software available for free download from their websites, and are supplying the software to users by mail, on CDROM.

While production of the site, and checking with the various browsers, has been done in Windows95, the same browsers are available in versions for Windows 3.1 and for the Apple Macintosh environment, and should function in essentially the same fashion. Netscape is also available in versions for a variety of additional platforms.

Both Internet Explorer and Netscape Navigator can be downloaded for free, and can be used with virtually any internet connection; Internet Explorer requires no registration, and is perpetually free, while Netscape expects payment of a modest sum if you want to continue using it after an evaluation. We recommend Internet Explorer for this site.

 

The Images

Whenever I am working from photographs (either slides or negatives) I have the images transferred to PhotoCD as the first step. I then process the images, cropping as necessary and sometimes color correcting, before converting to the JPEG format. The images are then placed on an image page, using a standard image-page template I created, and any text added that I think necessary. The thumbnails that are used on the Genus pages were created at the time that I first processed the images, and were added to the Genus pages as I created each cultivar page.

 

The Fonts

Most people use the default fonts that their browser comes set for. This reflects the "former" reality that there was no way of specifying a particular font for display within a web browser. That has now changed, and you will find that there are fonts that do a much better job of displaying text on screen than Times New Roman or Arial (the Windows standard fonts).

For a discussion of this issue, check out Daniel Will-Harris' design page, which gives some excellent tips on print and screen design. He also has available for free download an excellent screen display font, GeoSlab lite, which substantially improves on-screen readability (navigate to his "Typofile" page).  It is specified as the font on some of my pages, and will be used automatically if the font is present on your computer. There are also several good screen fonts available for free download from the Microsoft web site -- browsing around this part of the site (there are a number of useful pages) will result in a lot of learning about screen display issues.

One of the Microsoft fonts, available for free and often distributed with new computers and Microsoft software, is Comic Sans MS. This is the font that I have specified for my article and tour pages, and for many of the text-based pages (including this one). While quite informal, it provides excellent readability for extended passages of text.

 

The Technology

This site was originally created with Microsoft Front Page 1.1, and modified and added-to with Microsoft Front Page 97 and 98. Front Page is a Windows95/NT application, that allows web site creation without working directly with HTML, the "language" that underlies all web content. I have had to work very little with the HTML code, only checking on a few occasions to correct some inexplicable formatting peculiarities that I could not understand from the Front Page interface.

The images on this site were mostly transferred from slides or negatives to Kodak PhotoCD. This technology is widely available from most photo shops, and is the best way I have found to get really high quality images scanned into digital format. The digital files contain several resolutions of each image, allowing for magazine quality reproduction, or, in my case, substantial cropping without loss of image size or quality.

Image processing was done mainly with the Polyview. Polyview, from the company Polybytes, is a truly excellent shareware utility for Windows 95 available via download from the Polybytes web site. I strongly recommend it for anyone who needs to convert images, or to process or modify images in any way. If you like it, please pay for it -- registration is only $25, and the package is more than worth it. Larry Reeve, the author, deserves to be rewarded for his work.

 

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