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Micrographia Site Policy.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ).  
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FAQs Relating to Policy.

This page deals with questions commonly asked by visitors to an educational website, and with the Micrographia policies relevant to those questions:      and some less frequently asked questions:
  • Q: What are the objectives and intentions of this website?

    A: Micrographia is intended to be a resource to all light microscopists. More specifically, it provides supplementary information to those microscopists who have reached a level of familiarity with their microscopes and the techniques associated with them, and who are looking for more detailed advice on how the instrument may be adapted and modified for particular imaging tasks.
    There are many excellent sites on the Web which introduce the beginner to the microscope. Micrographia is aimed at those who have absorbed the basics and are looking for the next level of information.

    The specimen galleries are a major part of Micrographia, and concentrate largely on creatures found in fresh water. With few exceptions, the pictures are of living creatures captured using electronic flash, which freezes their motion and preserves their natural colours. The techniques developed to do this are described elsewhere in an article.

    It is hoped that this expanding collection of micrographs and associated information will be a useful resource for teachers and students of biology and all microscopists looking to identify the freshwater specimens encountered in their collecting. Casual visitors from the Web community may also find it an informative diversion.
    The aims and objectives of the site are also outlined in the Editorial for January 2001.

  • Q: What kind of person does Micrographia address?

  • A: It is hoped that any person with an interest in the light microscope and the things it reveals will derive value from Micrographia.

    It is particularly aimed at those who are either fortunate enough to own a good microscope or have access to one, or who are prepared to spend as much on a microscope as they would on a decent trail bike, and are willing to put as much concentration into mastering it. The concentrations involved in acquiring these skills are of course different in kind, but both result in increasingly refined performance over time -- not because of any fundamental change to the instrument concerned, but as a direct result of the increasing skill of its operator.
    Of course, if the microscopist has sufficient extra funds for a trail bike as well, the two form an excellent combination -- one device for enabling the collection of specimens, the other for examining them.

    Micrographia is also aimed at people whose computers have low resolution monitors. The HTML scripting enables the whole page content to be seen, without the need to scroll horizontally, even on a VGA monitor (640 x 480 pixels), but it looks best at 800 x 600 resolution. The lower resolutions have the advantage that pictures and diagrams reproduce larger on the screen, giving them more impact and making it easier to take in their detail. The highest screen resolutions greatly reduce the size of the graphics, and smaller fonts are too small to be read.
    Owners of extreme high resolution monitors should use the clever software which comes with them to reduce resolution to around 800 x 600 for a more satisfying visual experience.

  • Q: How reliable is the information it contains?

  • A: Micrographia goes to a great deal of trouble to get things right.
    In compiling this website, resort has been made to the specialist texts of the in-house reference library.
    The main references are listed in the References Archive.

    All information relating to things biological and microscopical has been cross-checked against the appropriate texts, and whilst some statements have been gleaned from sources such as TV and radio documentary programs, and others derive from personal experience, no information on this website is wildly inconsistent with the information found in the reference texts.

    Micrographia is also in contact with workers who are expert in many of the areas covered, and much of the knowledge and advice of these experts is embodied in the texts.

    All errors and omissions are therefore due solely to the shortcomings of the webmaster. It would be greatly appreciated if any reader who spots a mistake were to make use of the email link at the foot of any page to draw this to the webmaster's attention -- possibly even supplying the correction and/or its reference where known.

  • Q: Who are the people responsible for Micrographia.com?

  • A: The conception, construction and maintenance of Micrographia.com is the work of the webmaster (Click for biographical details), who brings to the task a long professional involvement in microscopy, photography and digital imagery, and a longer amateur interest in freshwater biology. The website draws upon data and photomicrographs filed over a period of more than 25 years.

    The site title has been taken, without permission, from External Website Dr. Robert Hooke, who first conceived it over three hundred years ago as the title to his pioneering investigation of the sub-millimetre world.

    Micrographia remains in contact with many people who are experts in their fields, and their contributions (sometimes even acknowledged) are incorporated throughout the site. Much assistance has been given by individuals skilled in computer management and web design who have greatly accelerated the process of publication on the web.
    Whilst it could be said that the Micrographia website is a one-person operation, it is also proof that no man is an island.

  • Q: Have the images been digitally or otherwise manipulated?

  • A: The short answer is yes. All methods of reproducing images have their artefacts and distortions, and these must be compensated at some stage before the presentation of the final image. The great advantage of presenting images to a web audience is that the cathode ray tube and TFT LCDThin film transistor Liquid crystal displays displays are able to represent the enormous brightness range of real-world images better than any other method of image presentation except perhaps the projection of a well-exposed transparency onto a suitably reflective screen.
    Darkfield photomicrographs, which frequently represent the entire tonal range from pure black (maximum density) in the backgrounds to pure white (film-base density) in the highlights, especially benefit from presentation on a computer monitor. No photographic print can even approach this level of reproduction in terms of tonal range.
    The process of compensation for artefacts is of course a subjective one, and in all cases those processes are employed which preserve and accentuate the qualities of brillance, sharpness and contrast which characterise the image seen in a well adjusted microscope.

    In the case of darkfield images, detail superfluous to the main image, and which detracts from the ideal of a saturated black background, can be digitally replaced with pure black. This not only makes the picture look better, but it allows a greater degree of JPG compression, and therefore a smaller file size with a shorter download time. Here's an example.
    It's a great digital tool and is routinely applied. A similar process is sometimes applied to brightfield micrographs, particularly those of the "portrait" variety.

    Interventions in the imaging process bolder than those above are mentioned as they occur. Here is a link to an example of an image manipulation which triggers an alert to the visitor.
    It is the intention of Micrographia that the visitor should at all times know exactly what they are looking at in terms of image history.

    Visitors are encouraged to use the greyscale on the Specimen Gallery Directory page to adjust the contrast and brightness of their monitors for optimum viewing of the photomicrographs. If their monitors are in good condition, they will then be seeing (in tonal range rather than resolution) microscopic images about as faithfully reproduced as modern technology allows.

  • Q: How do I interpret the magnification figures quoted for the micrographs?

  • A: Given that web images are viewed on monitors of widely differing physical size and resolution, it is impossible to provide a figure for micrograph magnification which would apply in all cases. Accordingly, the following convention has been adopted.

    Imagine the rectangular format of the micrograph in question as being circumscribed by the circular field of the eyepiece; ie, its corners touch the circumference of the eyepiece diaphragm. Imagine further that the eyepiece in use is a widefield x10 power of standard design -- in common use on today's microscopes. The magnification figure quoted is the magnification of a microscope which would produce this image using such an eyepiece.

    Microscope image magnification is the product of the separate magnifications of objective and eyepiece. If the eyepiece magnification is x10, it follows that the magnification of the objective producing the primary image will be one tenth of the total magnification figure. Since the actual diameter of the diaphragm of a 10 power eyepiece is about 20mm, the diameter of the field imaged by the microscope can be obtained by dividing the power of the objective into 20. This gives an absolute dimension to the diagonal of the micrograph.

    If this sounds complicated, here is an example. Assume that the micrograph corners contact the eyepiece circumference, and the magnification is given as x400. With a 10 power eyepiece, the objective magnification must therefore be x40. The diameter of the field seen by the microscope at the plane of the specimen is therefore 20mm divided by 40 -- ie, 0.5mm.
    This procedure gives the viewer a fairly accurate yardstick (so to speak) for estimating the actual size of any object appearing in the picture.

    Here is a link to the relevant tutorial page dealing with magnification and resolution.

    Magnifications of images produced by 35mm cameras using macro lenses or bellows extensions are more problematical, and actual dimensions will be given where they are important to an understanding of the subject matter.
    Here is an example.

  • Q: Can I use the pictures and text on my website or in my project?

  • A: One of the main purposes of Micrographia is to make available to teachers and students of biology in general, and freshwater biology in particular, images which may be of use in classroom teaching, project illustration and creature identification. Images may be freely downloaded and used for these purposes without permission, although some attribution or acknowledgement of source would be appreciated.

    Here is a suitable credit/copyright line which can be used to credit a Micrographia image.

    © www.micrographia.com

    The HTML script for this can be copied and pasted into any web page requiring it:

    © www.micrographia.com
    See below for Micrographia policy on the use of images for commercial purposes. "Commercial" in this context means any use of an image in an undertaking for which the user receives payment or for which a fee is charged.

  • Q: What is the relationship between specimen groupings in the specimen galleries of Micrographia and current taxonomy?

  • A: Until about fifty years ago, most species were classified according to visible structural features, even if some of those features were only visible under the microscope. Since then however, ultrastructural studies with the electron microscope, investigations into cellular chemistry and advances in DNA sequencing have revealed that many creatures which look quite different may be closely related genetically, and other creatures which appear very similar are only distantly related.

    These discoveries have particularly affected our view of the microscopic world, leading to much reclassification in consideration of non-visible features. This of course poses difficulties to any person wishing to identify a creature known to them only by its appearance under the microscope.
    Accordingly, Micrographia has retained a less-than-modern classification based upon observable features, and from within this framework draws attention to developments and reappraisals in taxonomy as the occasion arises.

    An excellent overview of taxonomic issues is to be found in the introduction to Margulis and Schwartz's book "Five Kingdoms". Click for publication details and a brief review.

    Here is a highly readable External Website article which deals with the way in which recent advances in genetic technique have advanced our understanding of the complex relationships between the eukaryotes, especially within the phylum Protoctista. It also has a great list of links and references.

  • Q: How do I obtain publication rights to images and information on this site?

  • A: 1. Use one of the email links at the foot of any enlargement page in the specimen gallery, or the link to image sales on the home page, or this link, to contact the picture sales department at Micrographia.

    2. Include in your message either the caption and reference number for the image if it is in the Specimen gallery, or its URL and description if on an editorial page.
    Include also the purpose and product for which the material is required, the size at which it will be used, the countries and languages in which the image or text will be distributed, size of print run or numbers of copies which will be reproduced, and any other information germane to arriving at agreement.

    3. Upon reaching agreement, the file/s concerned at an appropriate filesize can be airmailed to the user on CD-ROM, or uploaded to a secure directory on Micrographia.com for download by the user, or by other means by arrangement.

    The user is entitled to use the material for the purposes covered in the agreement. Copyright resides at all times in Micrographia.

  • Q: How do I pay for an item or transfer payments to Micrographia?

  • A: PayPal is the current answer to this question.
    Clicking on the payment button below involves the payer registering with a third party -- PayPal -- which validates credit card particulars and makes and receives payments. PayPal will debit the payer's credit card by the amount specified, then PayPal pays Micrographia.
    This secure transaction does not involve Micrographia in the knowledge or storage of any person's credit card data. Any further questions will probably find answers on External Website the PayPal website.

  • Q: How do I go about placing an advertisement on this site?

  • A: Advertisers are always welcome on Micrographia, but visitors to Micrographia do not always welcome unsolicited advertising.

    This effectively rules out the use of animated GIF banners on the editorial or gallery pages of the site. They are annoying, and convey little useful information to the visitor. Those who are in search of relevant advertising will be directed to the Advertiser's subsite in the Suppliers section, where it is hoped that advertisers will avail themselves of the freedom to use a number of pages to present their wares in more detail, and with more illustration and technical data than is customary in web (or for that matter any) advertising.
    This makes sense, as users of the microscope are usually particularly appreciative of things rich in detail -- and if they are rewarded in this regard, will be quite willing to search for it.

    Potential advertisers who feel that there may be some advantage in rising to the occasion should contact Micrographia using the email link immediately below.