How to post pictures and smilies and links in your posts...
Lesson 3 - Posting your OWN images
Here we are at the hardest part of this class, how to post your OWN images. Its the hardest part because there are a lot of things you have to do and remember when you're preparing your own image to post, and there's a BUNCH of different ways you can do those things. No one way is wrong (well, unless it doesn't WORK, of course!
) but they each have pros and cons and quirks…
I'm going to talk first about the theory you should have a handle on before trying this, then talk about what I do, and what other people on the site like Ken n TX do, then we'll open it up for discussion in Computers and Electronics so that folks can share their picture preparation and posting methods.
So, on to some theory!
- Make sure your images are the right format!
There's only three different formats/kinds of still images that can be displayed within a web browser. These are GIF (Graphics Interchange Format), JPEG (Joint Picture Experts Group) and PNG (Portable Network Graphic) files (there won't be a test on what their abbreviations actually STAND for, I just think its kinda geeky and cool). The different image types are identified by the three letter file extensions that their file names end in. These are, respectively, .gif, .jpg (or sometimes .jpeg) and .png. Most point-and-shoot cameras create JPEG files by default, but if you are shooting pictures using a high-end DSLR camera (like a Nikon D3 for example,) it MAY be using a format called RAW. RAW files must be converted to one of the three file types above before they can be used.
- Make sure your images are the right size!
This one is ALSO very crucial!
Warning, warning, geeky content ahead!
Skip down four paragraphs if that warning has made you nervous!
Digital images for displaying on computer screens are measured in pixels, which stands for Picture Elements. One pixel is ONE of the tiny dots being displayed on your computer screen (or television). No, seriously, take a REALLY CLOSE LOOK at your monitor right now, and you'll be able to see that your screen is made up of thousands upon thousands of little tiny squares (so's your television by the way!). Depending on the age and quality of your screen, there's between 72 and 105 pixels per inch of screen space. When you set your screen resolution on your computer, it is ALSO measured in pixels. In the dark ages, computer screens had a resolution of 640 pixels by 480 pixels… Then as screens improved, we got up to 1024 by 768 pixels. Now the standard laptop can display a resolution of 1400 by 900.
"Oh okay," you're thinking, "THAT'S pretty high resolution! I should just be able to take my pictures from my digital camera and pop them straight onto my screen, right?"
Screens are actually NOT particularly high resolution compared to printers. Remember how, a paragraph or so ago, I said screens contain between 72 and 105 pixels per inch? Well, printers are measured in a similar measurement called DPI, or dots per inch. And your standard printer these days can print at a resolution of 300 DPI or greater… More than three times the resolution of your screen. And digital cameras (and scanners) these days are designed to be able to take pictures at similar high resolutions… So that they look nice when they print out! And, of course, the higher the resolution of the picture, the bigger the file size of the picture is! So, therein lies the biggest challenge people face when getting their pictures ready for posting… They have this amazing looking picture that they took with their 8 or 10 or 12 megapixel camera and they need to make it smaller before it will upload properly (many websites, including MTF, have an file size limit on uploaded files) or display nicely in a web browser.
Okay those of you who decided the last four paragraphs were too perilous, you can come back now!
So, what's a reasonable size for an image to post on MTF? Generally 640 pixels by 480 pixels (640x480) is a good size. Its small enough to upload, and small enough to fit nicely inside of a browser window and still leave room for other stuff around it, like people's avatars etc.
So, how do you GET your pictures down to that size? Well, in the old days (like, 15 years ago) I used to say, set your digital camera to take the lowest quality of picture possible… Those used to work out beautifully, they'd be exactly 640 by 480 (I had two settings on my old Epson 750, high quality and low quality, high was 1024 by 768 and low was 640x480)… However, not everybody's digital camera TAKES that cruddy of resolution of pictures any more… Or its hidden in their camera menu somewhere. So if you can't figure out how to change the resolution settings on your camera, or you want to KEEP high quality versions of your photos TOO, you'll need to change that resolution setting when you take the pictures out of the camera. Usually, your photo software on your computer will have some tool to change the size of your images, or sometimes you can use tools that are built into online picture-hosting services like TinyPic. We'll talk a bit more about both of these options soon.
- Find a place on the Web to keep your pictures!
Once you have your pictures in the right format AND the right size, you need some place where you can put them that everyone else on the World Wide Web can get to so they can see them. This is a hard thing to figure out, mostly because there's so many different ways you can do this, and each of them are just slightly different. However, there are three general principles you can go by:
What I do!
- It should be easy to use.
- It should be stable (ie, if you put a picture up on it and you come back six months later, you should still be able to see that picture).
- It should be accessible to the entire world, no matter what!
This is how I go from taking a picture to putting it into a post.
- Take the picture with my digital camera, set to a medium resolution. Currently I'm using a Canon PowerShot SD 850 IS that a friend of mine gave me, and I shoot with it set to a resolution of 2048x1536. This gives me fairly nice quality if I ever decide to print it, and it lets me crop my pictures after the fact so I could still pick out details and have them show up decently on posted pictures… BUT its still too big for one of those pictures to post well on MTF.
- Pull my 2 GB SD card out of the camera and pop it into my MacBook's SD card slot… This fires up my iPhoto.
- Import all my pictures into my iPhoto library.
- Review the pictures I've taken, to make sure I only use the best ones.
- Within my iPhoto library, I add a title to each picture I'm going to use, so that my pictures are at least somewhat identified (instead of just using the number that the camera assigns to each picture). I make sure that the title I give it contains no spaces or "special" characters like ampersands, question marks, slashes or dots.
- Export the photos I want to post FROM iPhoto at MEDIUM quality to my computer's desktop. That makes them just about right for posting on MTF
- Upload those photos to my WordPress Blog, where they get stored in the Media section. I can look at each image in the Media section of my blog and copy the image address, like I described in Lesson 1…
Like I said earlier, everybody does this part somewhat differently.
MTF has its own photo album section, which I'll cover in a later article. It's convenient, does some alright resizing for you, but has a storage limit of 75 pictures… So, for anyone planning a major tractor restore, you might run out of space before you finish your restore...
Ken n TX has a great set of tutorial pages about how to use TinyPic, located here
. Ken also recommends Photobucket
as a good source for storing your photos/videos. Although, you still must remember that if you post a photo from Photobucket, to the Web it will remain there until you delete it from your Photobucket Album. Once it is deleted it disappears from wherever you posted it and a RED X appears instead. Keep this in mind if you ever clean out your Albums.
LTGal uses Flickr,
although I notice that some of her older pictures aren't available in posts any more (it turns out that our Flickr account only has limited space, so the tractor pictures didn't make the cut). One quick note about Flickr, it gives you a lot of options for image size, but that can make it a bit confusing to get to the right spot to copy the image address from. If you can get to a spot that looks like the screen capture below (from one of Artbp's Flickr albums) in your Flickr album, THAT should be the right spot to right-click on the picture and copy the address from…
I wouldn't recommend using Facebook, in the event that you put your pictures in a "closed" area… They won't show up for forum members that aren't Facebook members (like me! Weird, I know, but I just CAN'T get "into" Facebook) or aren't your friends on Facebook. With that, let's throw this open for discussion, and see what other members do to post their pictures!