Iris is an enhanced version of our popular photo galleries, in which we showcase photographs submitted by visitors. There is a free version, which has all the functionality, and more, of our previous photo section, and a new subscriber-only version called Iris Pro, which is only available to subscribers (though free trials are available).
An Album is a collection of photographs which you can view with one click and/or use as the basis of a picture quiz to test your identification skills.
An Album can either be a set of specifically chosen photos, added individually, or a "Smart Album", whereby you specify some criteria and the Album is created and expanded automatically as new pictures meeting those criteria are uploaded. For example, you might create a standard Album of pictures of particular rarities that you have seen, or you might create a Smart Album containing all pictures of certain species you find hard to distinguish. A standard Album will only change if and when you add or remove individual pictures; a Smart Album will grow automatically as relevant pictures are uploaded, and you cannot remove individual pictures.
Albums can be specified as Private (only the creator can view them), Public (any registered user can view them), or BirdGuides (albums created, usually for subscribers only, by BirdGuides staff). When you create or change the properties of an album, you can specify whether or not the album is "Editable", i.e. whether other users can add pictures to that album. By definition, pictures cannot be added to Smart Albums - any new pictures matching the criteria used to define the Smart Album will be added automatically. Only the creator of an album can change its properties: its name, public status, and whether or not it is editable.
A "Smart Album" is a special kind of album where, instead of hand-selecting particular photographs, you set "rules" determining which categories of photos will appear in the album; all existing photos in the categories you define will be automatically included in the album, and new photos matching the criteria will be added as they are submitted. Thus Smart Albums will grow automatically with time. Most smart albums will probably be defined by species (e.g. you might create an album of "all photos of Blue Tit and Great Tit") but they can also be geographically specified (e.g. "all photos from Kent").
To create a Smart Album you can either use the Advanced Search facility on the Gallery page, or you can create a Species-based Quiz and save the result as a Smart Album.
Smart Albums can be viewed like any other album, or (provided they contain more than one photo of more than one species) can be used as the basis of a quiz.
By default, when you first use Iris Pro, you are allocated a default album called "My default album", which you can use immediately, and rename if you wish. However, you can have as many different albums as you like. To create additional "standard" (non-Smart) albums:
Enter a few details (such as a name for the album).
Save your album, and you will return to the albums page, where your new album will appear.
Hover over the "flag" on the new album and select "add pictures" from the pop-up menu.
You will see your standard gallery page, with the selected album noted at the top of the page. Use the first icon in the green bar below the picture to add pictures to this selected album (or the second icon to add picture to other albums, or to include an "album comment".)
While in "album view" you can also perform a search (simple or advanced) to find specific pictures that you want to add to your album.
To create a Smart album:
Click on "Search" and select the "Advanced" tab.
Enter your criteria (note that you can click on "more species" to search for more than one species at once).
Type a name for the album in the "Save as Smart album" box at the bottom of the search.
Click the "Search" button - your album will be created automatically, and you can then change its properties (e.g. to make it public) via the Albums page.
If you create a "species-based quiz" (see quizzes), you can also save the specified species as a Smart album.
You can either base a quiz on an existing Public or Personal album, or you can choose a set of species and build a quiz "on the fly". You can choose the language in which the species names appear, the number of questions, and whether or not details of the photo location and date are shown.
From the Albums page, hover over the "flag" of an available album, and select "quiz" from the pop-up menu.
If viewing an album in the Gallery, select "view as quiz".
If an album is unsuitable for a quiz (if it only features one species, or contains no or very few pictures), these quiz options will not be available.
To do the quiz:
Scroll down the page one picture at a time, selecting one answer from those provided beneath the picture (the options are chosen from the species represented in the album).
If you find a picture that you feel is unsuitable for a quiz, you can remove it (which will prevent it from appearing in other quizzes in future). Grounds for removing a picture include:
Pictures where the species is shown as a watermark or other caption on the picture
Pictures showing more than one species, where it's not obvious which bird is referred to
Pictures that you think are misidentified
Pictures that you consider unidentifiable
You will not be penalised for pictures you remove from a quiz.
When you've finished the quiz, check your answers (in particular, make sure you've answered each question), and click "Submit".
You'll be shown how many pictures you got right, and given a rating (based, where appropriate, on the average score for that quiz), plus statistics on your and others' previous attempts at that quiz. You'll also see the pictures again, with the site details shown and the correct answer (and any incorrect answers you chose).
You then have the following options, via links at the bottom of the quiz:
To repeat the quiz.
To view the chosen pictures as a Gallery.
To repeat the quiz with different settings (more or fewer questions, a different language, etc.).
To try a different quiz.
To save the quiz as an album (if it wasn't based on an existing album in the first place).
To create your Iris Pro profile, click "my profile" in the green bar at the top of any Iris Pro page. You can specify the following:
Your user name
An introduction to yourself and your photography
A list of the equipment you use
A link to your own website
A link to your email (protected from spam-gathering "bots")
Your phone number
A standard price for prints of your pictures
If you set up a profile, and as long as you maintain your Iris Pro subscription, you will be offered the option to use your profile settings for various fields by default when you upload a picture. Any fields where you accept this option will be updated automatically if you later change the relevant profile settings.
The icons you may see with a picture have the following functions:
Adds the picture to the selected album (if any), or to your default album.
Removes the picture from the selected album (if any), or from your default album.
Allows you to add the picture to albums other than the selected or default album.
Register your approval of a picture - the most popular pictures will appear in our popular galleries. Having "voted" for a picture, you have the opportunity to withdraw your "thumbs up". You can only vote once for a picture, and you cannot vote for your own pictures. The number next to the icon indicates the number of "thumbs up" for that picture.
Read or add comments on the picture. The number next to the icon indicates the number of comments so far received for that picture.
View a larger version of the picture (in situ).
View a smaller version of the picture (in situ).
View just this picture, send a link to the picture to a friend by email, or extract a link to highlight just this picture.
(For birds that appear in our bird news services) view all pictures of this bird or group of birds.
(For birds that appear in our bird news services) jump to the details page for this bird or group of birds.
Email the contributor of the photo (where email address supplied). If no contact details are given, you can and we'll pass on your request where possible (our policy is not to supply email addresses to enquirers if the contributor chooses not to supply them with their pictures, but we will forward messages if we can, and invite the contributor to contact you directly).
Show EXIF data (where available). EXIF data is embedded within some images and may indicate the equipment used, exposure settings, date and time, etc., though if an image is processed before upload this data may have been removed or altered.
EXIF data is embedded within some images (usually JPG files) and may indicate the equipment used, exposure settings, date and time, etc., though if an image is processed before upload this data may have been removed or altered. Some photo formats (e.g. GIF, BMP) do not include EXIF data anyway.