Digital Photo Series Help
  1. What is the Digital Photo Series?

    The Digital Photo Series (DPS) is a web-based application that provides access to the Natural Fuels Photo Series database and photographs. In addition to the data published in the bound volumes, the DPS includes data that were collected but not printed due to publication limitations. The interface allows you to browse, query and download photo series data and high-quality photographs. Planned functionality includes side-by-side comparisons and customized site generation.

    The Digital Photo Series is intended to complement, not replace, the paper and ink versions available now and in the future. Published volumes are more appropriate for use in the field and can be used with a stereoscope for a three-dimensional view of photo series sites.

  2. How does the DPS differ from the published volumes?

    While much of the 'look and feel' of the published photo series has been retained, the DPS diverges from the published volumes both in content and presentation.

    1. Data tables are structured differently.

      Necessitated by automated data display and facilitated by the vertical flexibility of the computer monitor, the DPS has a more standardized layout.

      1. Data tables will always be displayed in the same order in the DPS (not always the case in the binders due to layout constraints). Table order, from top to bottom and left to right where data are present, is as follows: Site Information, Site Species, Stand Information (i.e., tree/seedling densities), Understory Vegetation, Seedling/Sapling Biomass, Shrub Data (can be more than one table in this category per site, includes Selected Shrub Species, Shrub Biomass, and Shrub Data), Saplings and Trees, Woody Material, and Forest Floor.
      2. Table headings have been standardized across series (e.g., whereas the overstory table has been titled "Overstory", "Trees" and "Saplings and Trees", depending on the volume, the DPS counterpart is always "Saplings and Trees").
      3. All species composition data are consolidated in the unique-to-the-DPS "Site Species" table with attendant percents if given. The exception to this rule is in the Saplings and Trees table where Most Common Species are reported by diameter size class in the first row.
      4. All species in the DPS "Site Species" table are listed by form. In many of the published photo series, species are listed altogether under aggregate headings such as "Species" or "Understory species."
    2. The DPS includes some previously unpublished data.
      1. When making the GIS maps for the search interface, land owner, state, and Bailey's Ecoregion Divisions and Provinces were added to the database for each site.
      2. In some cases, data were reworked to standardize presentation across sites. For the Western Juniper photo series in Volume I, rather than report Juniperus tree data using standard shrub measurements summarized by height class, the DPS presents the data in a "Saplings and Trees" table with values summarized by diameter size class.
      3. Coming soon: bulk densities for all sites.
    3. The DPS offers a choice of measurement system.

      While the DPS uses English units by default, users can toggle between English and metric units using the 'Measurement System' drop-down.

    4. DPS totals might deviate slightly from published values by fractions of a decimal.

      There are cases where totals calculated in the DPS, specifically in the Woody Materials and Shrub Biomass tables, depart from the published values by a tenth or hundredth of a decimal place due to rounding.

  3. What is required to use the DPS?
    1. Computer. The DPS has been tested on both Windows and Macintosh computers.
    2. Web browser. The DPS is comprised of a series of web pages that provide access to a MySQL database located on the web server. The web pages have been developed using a combination of HTML, JavaScript, CSS, and PHP with help from the Smarty template engine and require a web browser connected to a server that can resolve PHP scripts (more on this below).
      1. Browser versions. So far, the application has been tested (successfully) on both Firefox 1.x and Internet Explorer 6.0 and 7.0.
      2. Browser settings. Within browsers, JavaScript and session cookies must be enabled for the application to function properly. On the Site browser tab, clicking on the site photograph or any of the documentation links will initially launch a pop-up window to display requested content, so users should be familiar with how to override pop-up blocking software, if applicable (customarily by pressing the <Ctrl> key while clicking). The pop-up windows, if left open, are reused by subsequent requests.
  4. How do I navigate the DPS?

    The DPS is organized into tabbed pages as follows:

    1. Site search tab

      Click on the site search tab to query the natural fuels photo series database for sites of interest.

      You can search for sites based on the following criteria:

      1. Map location. Click on the U.S. map showing site locations color-coded by volume to view an enlarged subsection of the map for finer-scaled selecting as well as the selected volume's sites displayed as search results beneath the form. Clicking on the finer-scale map will return sites from the cluster selected, a cluster being defined as a group of sites undistinguishable at that scale.

        TIP: hovering your mouse over an area of interest will trigger a 'tool tip' listing the underlying sites.

      2. Photo series. If you are familiar with the bound copies of the photo series, you might prefer to view sites from a given series. This drop-down box is organized by volume (in bold italics, ordered by volume number) and photo series (ordered by appearance in published volume).
      3. State
      4. Bailey's Ecoregion Divisions
      5. Land owner. This select box is populated with public lands, organized by governmental department.
      6. Cover type. This select box is populated with applicable SAF or SRM cover types.
      7. Species. Select scope (general or overstory), name type (scientific or common), search match condition ('starts with', 'is', or 'contains') and enter species search string to locate sites based on up to two species of interest, related by either the "AND" or "OR" logical operator.
      8. Quantitative measurements. Specify desired ranges for inventory data such as canopy closure, loadings, densities by size class, and forest floor depths for up to 2 variables of interest, related by either the "AND" or "OR" logical operator.

        DISCLAIMER: absence of a site from a result set could indicate nonavailability of data for given ecological variable, as sampling designs varied between photo series.

      Between fields, search criteria are combined with the "AND" operator. Because there are so many potential search variables, it is easy to come up with no matches. If your query does not produce a match, try broadening your search criteria. When starting a new query, click the Reset button to clear the form of all previously entered criteria.

      Search results are displayed beneath the search form as thumbnails of sites organized by volume and photo series. Depending on your screen resolution, you may have to scroll down to see the result set. Clicking on a site's thumbnail will transfer focus to the Site browser tab, opened to the selected site.

    2. Site browser tab

      The site browser tab consists of the site navigation tree in the left column and the site report in the main window. By positioning your mouse along the line dividing these two columns, you can drag the line left or right to allot space between the columns.

      1. Using the navigation tree.

        The site navigation tree is a PHP/JavaScript tool that works intuitively for those familiar with Windows Explorer or any other tree navigation interface. Click on a plus sign to expand a branch. Click on a minus sign to collapse a branch. Click on a site name (2-4 letters plus two letter site number) to view that site's report in the main frame. The current site will be indicated in the tree by bolded and highlighted text.

      2. Using the Previous site/Next site links.

        Sites are ordered by publication volume number and order of appearance within each binder. The site list begins with the first site of the first volume (MC 01) and cycles through to the last site of the most recently published volume. By hovering your mouse over the "Previous" and "Next" links located at the top and bottom of each site report, the tool tip will display the name of the site to which that link points.

      3. Printing a site report.

        Click the 'Print Site' link at the top of each site report to send a print-friendly version of the site report to your local printer.

      4. Viewing an expanded photo.

        Click the site photograph to launch a new window with the higher resolution version.

      5. Viewing documentation.

        At the bottom of each site report are links to the three levels of documentation: the photo series as a whole, that site's volume (including species lists by form for all the series therein), and that specific series' "Note to Users" (including bulk densities where available and site ordering rules).

      6. Downloading series data.

        While viewing a site on the Site browser tab, you can download that photo series' data formatted as a Microsoft Excel or comma-delimited values (text) file. The files consist of several tables related by siteID, along with a 'Read me' file documenting table relationships and other information associated with the data as stored in a relational database.

        1. No raw data.

          The photo series database was created to house the published data for easier search and display. Raw field measurements are not included in export files.

        2. "Code" numbers.

          There are no negative measurements in the Photo Series. Wherever negative numbers occur in exported data tables, they are placeholders for nonnumeric values published for quantitative fields, used to maintain data type integrity of numerical fields. The following table lists these negative number codes and their qualitative counterparts:

          Code Number Published Value
          -2 na
          -3 --
          -4 tr/trace
          -5 Qualified values*

          *The value -5 is a placeholder in cases where either more than one value was published for a given measurement (e.g., the Alaska Hardwood Series published canopy closure %'s broken out by hardwoods and conifers) or the measurement was qualified in someway, usually by a footnote in the publication (e.g., the shrub height given in the Western Juniper Series was for Chrysothamnus spp. only). All such nonstandard data are stored in the 'Exceptions' table, using a combination of table name, primary key value, and field name to locate applicable records.

        3. Units.

          Across all tables, assume the following measurement/unit protocol. Loadings account for the biggest discrepancy between stored and published data as they were often published in tons/acre.

          Measurement English Units  Metric Units
          Biomass/loading lbs/acre kg/ha
          Density #/acre #/ha
          Diameter (DBH, basal diameter)  inches centimeters
          Depth inches centimeters
          Height feet meters
          Crown breadth feet meters
          Crown area square feet square meters 

        4. Table relationships.

          See the 'Read me' file bundled with the export files for a diagram illustrating how exported tables are linked.

        5. HTML tags.

          Some fields (particularly site notes) may include HTML tags for formatting when viewed in a browser. These include the tags for italics (<em>), bolded text (<strong>) and line breaks (<br>).

      7. Adding tables to the current custom site.

        In the upper right-hand corner of each data table is a button allowing you to add that table to the site currently being created on the Custom site builder tab (if no current site exists, a new custom site will be created with the given table).

        is displayed if the current custom site does not yet have the given data table.
        is displayed if the current custom site already has the given data table from another site.
        is displayed if the current custom site already has the given data table from the given site.
        This button will not be clickable.

        Clicking to add a custom site table will transfer focus to the Custom site builder tab displaying the current site under construction. For more information on creating custom sites, refer to the help section on the Custom site builder tab.

    3. Custom site builder tab
      1. Custom site builder form.

        In the left column, add one or more tables to the current custom site (i.e., the one being displayed in the middle column) by selecting the desired site name from the corresponding drop-down select box(es) in the Custom Site Builder table and clicking the 'Update site' button. You can also add or replace tables by clicking the 'Add' or 'Replace' button for a given site's table in the Site Browser tab.

        To begin building a new site, click the 'New site' button, which will clear the select boxes and middle column and enter a new default custom site name into the Site name/code box. The previous custom site can be called back up by clicking its name in the 'Recent custom sites' box in the right column.

        Sites will by default be named custom1, custom2, etc. To use your own name, enter it into the Site name/code text box at the top of the form. If the site had already been started under another name, entering a new name is akin to a "Save as" operation – the site will now be listed under both the old and new names. You can also rename sites in the Recent Custom Sites box in the right column.

      2. The current custom site.

        As you add tables to a custom site, they will be displayed in the middle column, in the same order they appear on the Site Browser tab. The tables on this tab will have a 'Remove from site' button to drop tables directly from the site.

      3. Recent custom sites.

        In the right column, the 'Recent custom sites' box maintains a list of recently created or viewed custom sites. Click the linked name to display the site in the middle column of this tab. Note that the 'Build' form on the left now reflects the displayed site's tables. The 'Recent' list is populated by sites newly created or by uploaded sites viewed and/or edited during the current browser session (see below). Use the check boxes and the appropriate submit button to Remove, Rename, or Export selected sites. To export selected sites, enter a file name into the dialog box and click OK. A link will then appear to the newly generated export file for you to download to a location of your choice on your computer. If you named the sites "mySites" on March 8, 2007 at 3:48 pm, it would be named dps.mySites.0703081548.txt. DPS custom site export file names must start with "dps." and end with ".txt" – you are free to change the middle part as you see fit.

      4. Upload custom sites.

        Underneath 'Recent custom sites' is the 'Upload custom sites' interface. If you have previously exported custom sites to a dps.*.txt file, you can import these sites by clicking the Browse… button, locating the file on your computer, and clicking 'Upload sites.' If the file is formatted properly, the screen will refresh with a new box at the bottom of the right column containing the names of the imported custom site(s). You can remove groups of imported sites by clicking the Remove link at the upper right of each file group box. As with the Recent custom sites box, just click on the name of a site to display it. Notice that the selected site's name is then added to the Recent custom sites list. This site can be edited and will be saved temporarily in the Recent custom sites list, but to save changes permanently, the updated site(s) must be saved to an export file. Export files (dps.*.txt) can be shared among DPS users.

  5. About the DPS.

    1. Authorship credits.

      All of the Natural Fuels Photo Series volumes published so far have all been authored by Roger D. Ottmar and Robert E. Vihnanek of the USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Pacific Wildland Fire Sciences Laboratory, Fire and Environmental Research Applications Team. Coauthors include Clinton S. Wright (Volumes HI, I, III, Va, and VII-XII), Jon C. Regelbrugge (Volume IV), Jared W. Mathey (Volume VIa), Diana L. Olson (Volume VII), Joseph C. Restaino (Volume XI), Cameron S. Balog (Volume XII), Jeffrey W. Kelly (Volume XII), and David R. Weise (HI). Unless you wish to cite the Digital Photo Series application itself, please cite the individual volume from which you are using data, images, or ideas. See individual volume documentation for additional information on authors, coooperators and acknowledgements.

      View complete citation list for all Natural Fuels Photo Series volumes.

    2. Funding credits.

      We acknowledge funding from the Joint Fire Science Program under Project JFSP 04-4-1-02.

    3. Data disclaimer (coming soon).
    4. Contact information.

      For more information on the Natural Fuels Photo Series and their Digital counterpart, contact FERA's Technical Information Specialist Ellen Eberhardt (, 541-750-7481). For technical support with the website, send questions, bug reports (with screencaps if possible) to Paige Eagle (

  6. Related links.

    1. The Natural Fuels Photo Series Tutorial, which has a section on the DPS.
    2. The Natural Fuels Photo Series home page.