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General Info
  • What is my "bio" page? Where is it? How do I correct it?
  • How can I get my password?
  • How can I contact you?

    Creating digital images

  • Which image formats do you accept?
  • Which color mode should I use?
  • How can I improve the quality of my scanned photos?
  • Is there someone who can scan my slides for me?
  • What software can I use to adjust my digital photos?
  • How do I resize my photos?

    Uploading photos

  • What's the maximum size photo I can upload?
  • I get an error when I try to upload the image
  • The image starts uploading but never completes

    Taxon, types and other descriptive text

  • Why do I need to provide descriptive data about my photos?
  • What should I enter for the "habitat" field?
  • What's up with the "Type of Photo" field for plants?
  • Why is the wrong common name being displayed with my photo?
  • Why has the scientific name I used when I uploaded my image been changed?

    Correcting & viewing your photos

  • How can I correct or update one of my photos?
  • How do I delete one of my photos?
  • How do I replace one of my photos?
  • How do I find out what the 16-digit Photo ID is?
  • How can I get a list of all the photos I've submitted?


  • What is my "bio" page? Where is it? How do I correct it?

    Every photographer for CalPhotos has a biographical page so that library users can get a little information about the photographer that took the photo they are viewing. Most photographers entered their own biographical information when they signed up to submit photos. For others, the organization that contributes photos on their behalf, such as the California Academy of Sciences, entered the biographical data.

    To get to your bio page, either click on your name on the Detail page for one of your photos or do a query to the Photographer's Database here: http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/photographers.html.

    If you want to update or correct information on your bio page, go to http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/photographer_upd.html.

    Many photographers have given us photos of themselves to include on their bio page. We think this is nice for our users, since it makes the photo database more personal. If you'd like us to include your photo, email it to us. If you want to change your photo, please email us the new photo you'd like to use.


  • How can I get my password?

    If you've forgotten your password, please Click Here to send us an email and we'll reply back shortly.


  • How can I get a list of all the photos I've submitted?

    There are different ways to do this, depending on what you want and how many photos you've contributed. Here are a few examples:

    Find out the total number of photos you've contributed
    Check your "bio" page; it has a count of total photos. It is updated nightly, so the photos you sent in today will not be there. See above for how to get to your bio page.

    View all photos you've contributed
    You can use any of the CalPhotos forms. Select your name from the list of photographers. For example: All photos, Plants, Animals.
    Or you can go to your "bio" page (see above) and click on View all photos.

    Just view a list of the photos you've contributed (not the photos)
    This is a good option if you have contributed a lot of photos and you don't want to page through them 12 at a time. You want to use the Custom Query form here: http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/custom.html Here are some examples of lists you can get using the custom query form:

    (1) get a text list of all photos I've submitted
    Under "Query options": Photographers - select your name
    click Search

    (2) get a list of photos I've submitted since Nov 1, 2002:
    Under "Query options": Photographers - select your name, Index date - type "2002-11-02"
    click Search

    (3) get a list of all my photos sorted first by submission date, then by taxon:
    Under "For text display: choose fields ...": select index_date as one of the fields to display (taxon is already there)
    Under "Sort results first by": choose index_date then by taxon
    click Search

    Note: if you want to see the photos too, check Display results as photos at the top


  • How can I correct or update one of my photos?

    If you want to correct something in the text description, change the name of the plant or animal, or add additional information about the photo, use this form: http://calphotos.berkeley.edu/update.html


  • How do I delete one of my photos?

    If you want to delete one of your photos, please request a deletion using the update form. Enter the ID number and your password as usual, and then, when you see the data for the photo, click on the "Delete this photo" link at the top of the page.


  • How do I replace one of my photos?

    If a photo you uploaded was incorrect, or you want to replace it for some other reason, please use the update form. Enter the ID number and your password as usual, and then, when you see the data for the photo, click on the "Need to replace this photo?" link near the top of the page. Note that sometimes after you're replaced the photo you may still see the old photo. This is because your browser has cached (saved) the old image and is not loading the new one from the server. Make sure your browser is not loading the image from its cache.


  • How do I find out what the 16-digit Photo ID is?

    The 16-digit Photo ID can be found on the "detail" page for each photo. Use one of the query forms to find the photo(s) you are interested in, and then click on more information under the photo. This will bring up that photo's detail page. The ID is at the top, to the right of the thumbnail.


  • What's the maximum size photo I can upload?

    The maximum size in bytes is 4MB, although this is about four times larger than what we recommend. The maximum dimension is 1025 x 1025 pixels though the recommended dimension is 800 x 600. If you upload a photo that is more than 4MB, you will get an error message. You need to reduce the size and try again. If you upload a photo that is larger than 1025 x 1025 pixels, we will automatically reduce the size. The reason why we have a maximum size is because many library users have slow internet connections, and large images take a long time to download. It also takes longer to upload oversized photos, and we have had a case where a photographer's web browser timed out before he got the entire image uploaded.


  • Which image formats do you accept?

    Photos uploaded to CalPhotos must be in JPEG format.


  • Which color mode should I use?

    Images must use RGB color mode - this is the only color mode that web browsers can handle. Of the different RGB choices, sRGB is best for web viewing.

    CMYK color mode is often used for high-quality printing, and PhotoShop will create and display CMYK images, but web browsers can not display CMYK images.


  • How can I improve the quality of my scanned photos?

    Most of our current contributors are using high quality digital cameras, and these produce the best results when viewed on a web page. However we do have some contributors with photo collections from the days before digital cameras. Here are some of the problems we have seen with scanned photos:

    scanned prints vs. scanned slides or negatives
    We recommend not scanning prints because it usually results in a poor quality digital photo. If you have slides or negatives available, scan those instead, or have them converted to Kodak PhotoCD at a photo lab. Or, spring for a digital camera. If scanned prints are the only way you can provide photos, you may be able to improve the quality by increasing the resolution of the scan. Never enlarge the size of a digital photo once it's been scanned - this will make the resolution even worse by stretching out the pixels.

    high-end scanner vs. econo-model
    In general, the better the scanner, the better the resulting digital photo will be. If you don't want to invest in a high-end scanner, and you have high quality slides that you'd like to include in CalPhotos, there are several options available - see Is there someone who can scan my slides for me? below.

    flatbed scanner with transparency unit vs. film/slide scanner
    Transparency units for flatbed scanners often result in blurry photos with poor contrast. Slide scanners produce better scans. An example of a slide scanner is Nikon's Coolscan series.

    too much compression
    Another possible problem is compressing the digital photos too much, and reducing the quality of the photo in the process. Most photographers upload photos that are in the range of 50-200KB for the enlargement size (not the thumbnail). If your large format JPEG is less than 50KB you may be compressing it too much.

    too much correction to color, contrast, etc.
    We don't recommend doing any correction to digital photos using your scanner software or an application like PhotoShop. This often can make the photo look even worse. We find that even if the "correction" corrects one part of a photo, another part will look oddly colored or fuzzy. If your scanner yields a much darker photo than what you scanned, you might try lightening them a bit, but it's usually best to make no other adjustments.


  • Is there someone who can scan my slides for me?

    If you can't or don't want to scan your slide collection yourself, here are some options:

    Kodak PhotoCD: Most photo labs can scan your slides using Kodak PhotoCD technology and put them on a CD. This produces a very high quality digital photo - the Brousseau photos and photos from the California Academy of Sciences use this technology. You will need to convert them to JPEG format using software like PhotoShop before you upload them to CalPhotos.

    California Academy of Sciences donation: You can make a tax-deductable donation of your slide collection to the California Academy of Sciences' slide library and they will permanently store them, index them, and make them available digitally (using Kodak PhotoCD) via the Digital Library Project. The Academy has contributed more than 25,000 photos to the CalPhotos database, and continues to add around 3,000 more each year. See The Manzanita Project on the Academy's website or send email to manzanita AT calacademy.org.


  • What software can I use to adjust my digital photos?

    There are several applications that can be used to make changes to digital photos. The one most commonly used is Adobe's PhotoShop. You can download a free trial version with limited functionality by going to the Adobe website at www.adobe.com. The free version will allow you to do simple functions such as changing the image's size or converting it from one format to another. Note we don't recommend that you make other adjustments to your photos such as the color, sharpness, contrast, etc. See How can I improve the quality of my scanned photos? above.


  • How do I resize my photos?
    You can use the free trial version of PhotoShop to change the size of your photos. These instructions apply to both the free limited version as well as to the full version:
  • go to "Image"
  • go to "Image size..."
  • change the height or width there


  • I get an error when I try to upload the image
    The usual problem is that your image is not within the acceptable range. You should see an explanation if you get this type of error. If the large image is not at least 300 pixels on one side, you will need to create a larger size image. You will also get an error if your image is too large. See What's the maximum size photo I can upload?.


  • The image starts uploading but never completes
    The problem may be that your image is very large and your network connection is relatively slow, such as a dial-up connection or a cable modem at high-traffic hours. It might take a very long time for the image to transfer over to our server. In the worst case, your web browser might "time out" waiting for the image to transfer. Try reducing the size of your image, or wait to upload it during off-peak hours, or try uploading from a friend's computer that has a faster internet connection.


  • Why do I need to provide descriptive data about my photos?

    When you upload a photo, we ask that you provide at minimum the year the photo was taken, the location, and a taxon for photos of plants, animals, etc. This is partly because the photos are managed by a database, so we need some text information ("metadata") to be able to store the photos and retrieve them later.
    However a more important reason is that the photo database has many different uses, and we want to be able to support the widest possible variety of uses. Many novice users access the photos using the common name, so it's helpful if you can provide one, and we will try to get one from ITIS, AmphibiaWeb, or some other source. Novice users are particularly interested in seeing informational notes about your photo that you add using the "Photographer's Notes" field. A photo of a toad is more meaningful to a grade-schooler working on a homework assignment if you added a note that the toad was found under a rock by a pond, and that it is shown calling in the photo. Many scientists who use the photos are very interested in the location information. They appreciate specific location descriptions such as "Tilden Park" and "Contra County County" rather than the more general "California". Also the month the photo was taken has meaning. A photo of a blooming shrub is more meaningful to library users if they can see that it was taken in April. The habitat the plant or animal is found in is very informative to experts and novices alike (see What should I enter for the habitat field? below.) Other nature photographers are very interested in knowing information about the camera and film you used, so it's useful to include that. So, add as much information as you can about your photo - someone out there will really appreciate it!


  • Why has the scientific name I used when I uploaded my image been changed?

    Unfortunately, taxonomy is constantly changing. CalPhotos reserves the right to update species names with updated taxonomic information from trusted authorities, eg. AmphibiaWeb, the Reptile Database, the Index to California Plant Names. If you have a question or problem with any name changes, feel free to contact us.


  • Why is the wrong common name being displayed with my photo?

    There are no standard common names. The common or vernacular name for a plant or animal can vary widely depending on the part of the country or the part of the world you live in. Not only that, but the same common name may be used for many different species, such as "blue bells" or "gull". The scientific name is the one that clearly establishes a particular species, and that is the main name we store. However the common name is important too, since so many of our users know plants and animals by their common names only. Therefore, we accept whatever common name the photographer gives us, but we also attempt to find other common names from one of our reference sources. When you upload a photo, we will look up the scientific name at ITIS, AmphibiaWeb, and other sources to see if a common name is available for that taxon. (See References for the sources we use.) If other common names are found, we add them to your photo. The photos's detail page will display all common names and their sources, including the photographer's common name(s).


  • What should I enter for the "habitat" field?

    The habitat field is a free-form field and you may enter whatever short description you think best applies to your photo. There is not a standard list of habitats. Most photographers enter one or two words to describe the habitat, such as "redwood forest" or "coastal waters" or "desert". There are some lists of habitats that you can check. The Jepson Manual includes "ecology" in its treatments, and you can use this for California plants. There is also a CNPS "Manual of Vegetation" online at UC Davis here: http://endeavor.des.ucdavis.edu/cnps/ There are many other sources for other species. For example, AmphibiaWeb has habitat information for worldwide amphibian species, and Mykoweb has habitat descriptions for California Fungi. Landscapes and habitat photos in CalPhotos are listed by habitat on this page: CalPhotos Habitats and Plant Communities


  • What's up with the "Type of Photo" field for plants?

    The Type of Photo field includes only a few basic types of plants such as fern, tree, vine, etc. The category "annual/perennial" is our default catch-all for plants that don't fit one of the other categories. We recently changed the default to "annual/perennial" from the former "flower", which was even less accurate and an artifact of earlier days when the photo database was "California wildflowers" only. The Type of Photo is there for novices to use who want to make a query like "trees in Alameda County". So it is purposely not very scientifically exact. We suggest that you use "annual/perennial" if your photo is other than a tree, vine, fern, etc. The category "unavailable" is being used for automatically-uploaded photos from organizations that give us large sets of images in bulk. Eventually it will be phased out.


  • How can I contact you?

    Click Here to send us an email.


  • CalPhotos is dedicated to the memory of Brother Eric Vogel

    CalPhotos is a project of BSCIT   University of California, Berkeley

    Questions and Comments
    this page last updated: Jun 29, 2016