Re: Colour Pictures in Aroideana
- Subject: Re: Colour Pictures in Aroideana
- From: Theodore Held <email@example.com>
- Date: Mon, 21 Nov 2011 14:56:32 -0500
Well, the color issue has certainly been interesting. Here are three comments.
1. From an amateur's point of view, a color picture is better than a black and white one. In the old days of real film, black and white came equipped with much better detail and resolution than color. But now a digital photo is a digital photo. On a same-pixel basis, detail is the same, technically. But color shows things that B+W cannot. Like color, for instance. And there's no doubt that the public likes color pictures better.
2. The value of a picture for taxonomic purposes is based on the skill of the photographer. Many small details cannot be photographed with your standard hand-held. You need a dissecting scale microscope (10 X to 100X) and you need to know how to do it. Since most people don't have the equipment or the skill, pictures tend to be useless, as has been pointed out. For my money I'd put up a skillful photomicrograph against most of the line drawings I have seen. And the cost per picture (assuming one already has the stuff) is very low.
3. There is still a role for line drawings. Showing the emergence of a feature, for example. Or showing an overlay structure that would be obscured by the background. Or detailing a time-lapse characteristic. None of these are best suited to photography.
I don't see any reason (other than cost, obviously) to favor B+W over color in a publication like Aroideana.
On Mon, Nov 21, 2011 at 3:27 AM, Peter Boyce <firstname.lastname@example.org>
To pick up one point raised by Jason. While I am the first to admit that plain line drawings are the preferred identification medium for professional botanist (indeed, professional biologists) they ALSO raise problems with the available number of skilled biological artists AND the very high cost of producing. The line plates in Genera of Araceae took almost 3 years to produce and cost on average over 350 UK pounds each. And that was in 1993-1996.
I will weigh in on this, too. As one who spends a lot of time in the field, I too, am only too aware of the drawbacks of colour photos in certain applications. Field giudes, for example. A colour photo depicts a specific plant, growing under specific environmental conditions, and most plants have a degree of phenotypic plasticity that can obscure important identification characteristics unless one knows what details to look for. All the technical floras used by professional botanist use plain line drawing for this very reason: a line drawing is based on a number of specimens, averaging out the phenotypic plasticity so as to highlight the characteristics that really matter.
I like to use the example of Peterson's Field Guide to Wildflowrrs of the Northeastern and North-Central United States. In the plate of Prenanthes and similar taxa, the line drawings show details of the involucre, pappus, and similar small but taxonomically-important characteristics of several species. All these species would tend to look alike in colour photos. Indeed, on those occasions when I have attempted to use photo-based field guides, a large number of the descriptions mention that there are several similar species, of which only one is shown. This is so pervasive, I find photo-based field guides nearly useless. Give me line drawings any day!
But people nowadays are so taken with the wonders of digital photography, it seems every new field guide coming out eschews line drawings in favor of pretty, but not very helpful, photographs. I have despaired of ever being able to fill the gap in my field guides: Peterson's has wildflower guides for the Northeast/North-Central; the Great Plains; the Rocky Mountains; Texas/Southwest; and Pacific States -- but none for the Southeast. And every guide to the Southeast I have ever seen uses color photographs and therefore leaves out many similar species. It looks as though I am going to have to pony up for the technical floras for that region -- and they are not cheap!
Date: Fri, 18 Nov 2011 14:28:21 -0600
From: Christopher Rogers <email@example.com>
Subject: Re: [Aroid-l] Colour Pictures in Aroidiana
To: Discussion of aroids <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset="iso-8859-1"
Speaking as an an editor of an international scientific journal and guest
editor for another, I can answer that question (Derek, I hope you do not
mind my jumping in here . . .). Colour is very nice, very pretty, but has
drawbacks. There are actually a couple of reasons:
1) Cost. In the journals where I publish my research, black and white
images are free for the author to publish. Colour plates usually run
$300USD each. Do we pass that cost on to the authors? Well, yes, and
Aroidiana does just that. If you want to publish a colour picture, you must
bear the cost. If we require that all photograph submissions are in colour,
do we increase the cost of the journal? Will we lose subscriptions? If the
cost goes to the authors, will they then publish elsewhere, where the costs
are lower? By making this a requirement, we could harm the journal and the
IAS. And Aroidiana does publish colour on occasion (see volume 34) when the
authors will pay for it.
2) Detail. When preparing a scientific account, such as a species
description, black & white photographs are often superior for the simple
reason that in a black and white image more detail is apparent. This is why
some famous photographers (such as Ansel Adams) chose to use black & white
film. Obviously, this is not a concern on our articles that are not of a
specifically taxonomic nature.
I hope that this is helpful. The role of the editor is not always obvious
or transparent to the readers.
On Fri, Nov 18, 2011 at 12:19 AM, E.Vincent Morano <email@example.com>wrote:
> I sure hope Aroideana starts using color images. The 60's are long gone
> as should be black and whit photos with them. Ugh they are so ugly I mean,
> we are entering the second year of the second decade of the new millennium,
> we should have nothing but hi definition color images now! Maybe even a few
> holograms haha.
> But seriously, my first book of Aroideana #34 was such a disappointment.
> Why would anyone use black and white film in this day and age? beyond that
> why would anyone even use film? Digital media is far superior. Aroideana
> could be very enjoyable if it wasnt for the black and whit images.
> *From:* Wilbert Hetterscheid <firstname.lastname@example.org>
> *To:* 'Discussion of aroids' <email@example.com>
> *Sent:* Wednesday, November 16, 2011 11:29 AM
> *Subject:* Re: [Aroid-l] Amorphophallus ID please. new species?
> This is a new species close to polyanthus. Will be published in next
> Aroideana is the plan.
> *Van:* firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:
> email@example.com] *Namens *E.Vincent Morano
> *Verzonden:* woensdag 16 november 2011 3:04
> *Aan:* Discussion of aroids
> *Onderwerp:* [Aroid-l] Amorphophallus ID please. new species?
> This was found at UBONRATCHATHANI province near Laos Can anyone ID it?
> Aroid-L mailing list
> Aroid-L mailing list
D. Christopher Rogers
Crustacean Taxonomist and Ecologist
Kansas Biological Survey
Kansas University, Higuchi Hall
2101 Constant Avenue, Lawrence, KS 66047-3759 USA
Associate Editor, Journal of Crustacean Biology
Vice President, Southwest Association of Freshwater Invertebrate
Taxonomists SAFIT.ORG <http://safit.org/>
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