30/08/2012
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Iris spreads its wings

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Overnight [30th August 2012] we launched a new version of our popular Iris photo galleries, which introduces lots of new features. The first thing you'll notice is that we've added the following new galleries:

We've seeded the galleries with a few of our own (and our friends') photos to get things started, but our thanks and congratulations go to quick-off-the-mark photographer Tony Sutton, who was the first external contributor with this fine shot of a Black-tailed Skimmer dragonfly:

Black-tailed Skimmer
Black-tailed Skimmer, Strumpshaw Fen RSPB, Norfolk (Photo: Tony Sutton)

We've also added social networking buttons under every photo, so you can share pictures that catch your eye with your online friends and communities. (Note that this shouldn't compromise the privacy of photographers: all that appears on social networking sites such as Facebook when someone "likes" your photo is a small thumbnail of the photo with the site, species and the photographer's name, and a link back to your photo on the BirdGuides website.)

The photo upload system (www.birdguides.com/upload) has also been enhanced — uploading is now a two-stage process, where you first upload the photo, then supply the details. This has advantages for us and you:

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  • it should reduce duplicate uploads and misattributed species caused by accidentally selecting the wrong file (easily done!)
  • it allows you to abort an upload if you pick the wrong file
  • it allows us, where possible, to set the capture date automatically according to the EXIF data in the photo file, saving you the trouble of looking it up (or guessing!)
  • there's a more flexible mechanism for specifying the species and site, and no separate "world upload" page any more (though the viewing galleries can still be localised)

Like Haldane's Creator we have an inordinate fondness for beetles, but we appreciate that not everyone shares our fascination with insects. If you just want to carry on looking at bird photos, use one of the first four options in the "Iris (Photos)" menu in the left-hand menu bar (or bookmark www.birdguides.com/picture/?gallery=1). Iris Pro subscribers can specify a preferred default gallery, which is opened automatically when you first enter Iris.

You'll also find that each new species featured has its own species page — such as that for the Small Tortoiseshell. These will be a little sparse to begin with, but with your help we hope they will expand rapidly.

For now, we've restricted ourselves to taxa of which we have some in-house knowledge, but there's technically no reason why we shouldn't add more galleries covering further taxa in future: mammals, fish, reptiles, plants, it's all possible. It'll probably be a while before we tackle the Nudibranchs or the Ctenophora, but you never know...

Written by: Dave Dunford, BirdGuides webmaster