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Discussion Starter #1
As I understand it, the forum rules limit the size of photos to 640 pixels wide for any photo no matter where the photo is hosted... that is whether it is uploaded as part of the posting (1st Class Member benefit) or linked from a photo hosting site (even the 1st Class Member web storage).
 
Additionally, if the photo is being uploaded as a part of the posting (1st Class Member benefit) then the file size is to be no greater that 60K bytes.
 
Here is a short list of 5 steps to prep a photo file and the order to do the steps...
 
Every photo-editing program has different methods of doing these things so I cannot specify exactly what to click on, but maybe I can give the common names of the functions and you can find them in whatever photo-editor program you have.
 
1) SAVE AS… a copy to work from.
2) CROP to remove distracting data.
3) SHRINK to no wider than 640 pixels wide.
4) ENHANCE color, brightness, contrast, sharpness, etc.
5) SAVE the photo and check what size it becomes.
 
 
To expound on the above list…
 
1)      SAVE AS… a copy to work from.
 
You can make the copy right from your photo-editor by immediately doing the “SAVE AS...” function as soon as you open the photo file to edit it. This way, if something goes floozy with your work on the image, you have not lost everything.  I recommend that you keep the cryptic name the camera gave it, but precede that with a description of the photo.  My camera always creates files named as "PANAnnnn.jpg", where the "PANA" is always the same and the "nnnn" is a 4-digit number sequentially applied to each photo. For example; to create the new name for photo "PANA1234.jpg", of Joe's Shay at my place, I made the file name:
"Joe's Shay at CMBY RY '07 PANA1234.jpg". 
This way I always know the name of the original file in case I want a better copy of it for some other reason.
 
 
2)      CROP the photo.
 
Granted, some photos do not need cropping, but MOST could benefit from judicious use of the “Crop” tool. Cut off parts of the photo that detract from the main purpose of the image... like if the photo is of a boxcar, and it is not centered in the image, cut off some of one edge to center the boxcar in the image.  Crop any of the four edges to exclude parts that have nothing to do with the reason for the photo. Unless the sky or the grass is a major reason for the image, cut off most of the top and bottom.
 
Cropping is NOT to get the image to 640 pixels in width. The main object may require the photo to be wider than 640 pixels at this point, but the next step will take care of that problem. Keep the portion of the photo that it makes sense to keep, but if you can crop it to less than 640 wide then you can skip the next step.
 
 
3)      SHRINK the image to no more than 640 pixels wide.
 
This is where some of the photo-editing software gets confusing with talk of “Canvas Size” and “Image Size” and some other terminology. You want the function that ends up combining pixels such that there are fewer of them. Always shrink the image the same amount both vertically and horizontally, that way there will be no distortion, i.e.: round things will stay round. The value you are shooting for here is that the horizontal value (width) be no more than 640 pixels; let the vertical become whatever it becomes.  Some programs only ask what by percentage the image is to be altered, if so, you will need to do a bit of math to calculate the percentage to use to get a result of close to, but no over 640 pixels wide.
 
Some programs simply throw away one pixel out of some number of pixels all the way across the image to get the count down to what you want, e.g.: to reduce the image by one third, it just throws away every third pixel. Others programs attempt to salvage more of the image; when a pixel is removed, that pixel’s value is partially added to the adjacent pixels that were not removed. Some photo-editors allow you to specify how the shrink is done. You just have to fiddle with the methods to see which one does the best in your estimation for the photo you are working on. And most photo-editors have a "UNDO" command that will recover from "poor" choices!
 
 
4)      ENHANCE the photo.
 
Now is the time to perform any color, brightness, contrast and sharpness enhancements to the photo. Do this after the image has been cropped and sized as the enhancement functions should not consider parts that have little to do with the main object of the photo. There is no need to darken the main object of the image to get the sky look “normal”, or ruin the color of the locomotive just to get the dandelion blossoms the right shade of yellow.  Again, that "UNDO" command is very handy!
 
 
5)      SAVE the image as a “.JPG” file. 
 
This ‘SAVE’ will overwrite the copy you made in step 1. That is okay, since you still have the original to recover from if you do not like the final result. Doing that initial “SAVE AS…” keeps you from accidently doing a “SAVE” over the original file and losing it. 
 
Some programs allow you to select the amount of compression.  Initially, leave it at the program’s default setting. After saving the image, DO NOT terminate the photo-editor program, but go check to see what size file was created. If it is larger than 60K, save the file again but select a greater amount of compression. If it is considerably less than 60K, then save the file again with less compression.
 
One further note: 

Always work with the file that has been compressed (saved) the fewest number of times! Every time you save a photo in a compressed format, a little bit of information is lost. If you save an image, then re-open it and then save it again, even if you make no changes to it, the image may be degraded a bit. If you then open that file and save it again, there may be even more degradation to it, i.e.: it won’t be quite the same image as the first time you opened it. Some programs have gotten smart and only re-compress the portions of a file that have been edited so you may be able to load and save hundreds of times without seeing degradation, but if you do some image wide change (contrast adjust, etc.) then the file will have to be re-compressed and degradation may occur.
 
This is why I said to not close the photo-editor when checking the file size. If you were to re-open the saved file, and save it again, the new file will be more distorted due to the compression algorithm losing detail. Keeping the photo-editor running with the photo loaded will keep the good data in memory for saving again.
 
If you get interrupted in your editing and have to save your work; save it in a non-compressed format, such as Windows BitMap, (“.BMP”) so there will be no loss of data due to compression artifacts.

I hope this helps some folk understand what to do to get their photos ready for posting.
 

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Additionally, if the photo is being uploaded as a part of the posting (1st Class Member benefit) then the file size is to be no greater that 60K bytes.
Nice tutorial Charles. Just to clarify, the 60K limit only applies to photos attached to posts. It's also true that most 640 x 480 photos can be compressed into roughly this filesize with little. if any, discernible difference in image quality whn viewed on a computer screen. :)

Thanks for posting this.
 

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I'd change these, because the problem most people are having needs to be delineated as a separate step:

change:
1) SAVE AS… a copy to work from.
2) CROP to remove distracting data.
3) SHRINK to no wider than 640 pixels wide.
4) ENHANCE color, brightness, contrast, sharpness, etc.
5) SAVE the photo and check what size it becomes.

To:
1) SAVE AS… a copy to work from.
2) CROP to remove distracting data.
3) RESIZE to the dimensions in pixels you want, for this forum no wider than 640 pixels wide.
4) ENHANCE color, brightness, contrast, sharpness, etc.
5) COMPRESS (JPG compression ratio) to reduce file size as needed
6) SAVE the photo and check what size it becomes.

I renamed 3 because that is what most programs call the operation AND to avoid confusion with 5.
5 is the most important step. Most people do not realize this step needs to be done, if they are shooting at high "bits per pixel" "color resolution"
"high resolution" can mean a number of things... it can mean how many pixels X and Y in a picture, like 2000 x 3000, but it can ALSO mean how much "color data" is stored at EACH pixel.

Better picture software allows you to "compress" the amount of data at each pixel effectively (it's more complex than that, but this works for explanation), thus allowing a picture to take less disk space, even though it stays 640 x 480 for example.

Again, for a freebie, I recommend IrfanView, you can find it on the web for free. When you save a picture, there is a little "slider" for the compression ratio, more compression, smaller file size, but picture quality suffers of course. (you NEVER get something for nothing!).

Hope this helps.

Greg
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
Thanks Greg.  That little voice in the back of my head was saying that "SHRINK" was not quite the word I wanted but it was being drown out by all the other "voices" and I try to not pay attention to them at all.  /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/hehe.gif  But you are right about it being RESIZE.  You don't have to always reduce the physical size, you can make images bigger using that feature.

As for splitting my step 5 to two steps... I felt that since the compression occurs during the save, that it is just one step.  Granted, you can do a SAVE without doing the compression.  It is something that you have to select to do, even if it is only to specify to use a compression format for the file. So maybe it is step 5 and 5A? (I'm just not sure which is part A!) :confused:

I also have irfanfiew and it does work, but I tend to do most of my photo manipulations using Windows PAINT... /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/whistling.gif

"OUCH!" you say? /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/blink.gif

Yeah, it flat outright does not have any ability to "enhance" a photo, but it is the absolutely SIMPLEST "pixel pusher" program around and I really need "simple" /DesktopModules/NTForums/themes/mls/emoticons/unsure.gif most of the time.  I use it to do my "airbrushing" (well, outright "LYING") of some of my photos.  Then after fiddling like that, I use other dedicated photo-editors to do the Enhancements (which help to hide my crazy manipulations of photos to be of something that actually doesn't (or CAN'T) exist). See example below!  That is ME "in the cab" of my Aster Mikado (it is known as the Windows Paint diet!).
 

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I agree with Greg regarding compression as a separate step.

Most folks I know just do a Save As after resizing the photo and do not even KNOW that the photo program is retaining the same compression level that the original photo had...which is often 100%. My experience is that you can reduce the compression to around 30% and see no differences in the photo when it's been reduced to a 640 x 480 image. This compressing reduces 140K image files to under 60K often. If the photo is busy....lots of colors....it the percentage reduction in file size is even larger.

Simple to remember....when you save, look around for the controls for JPG compression...and reduce them. It will save you storage space in your MLS web space area...and decrease load time for the pages.
 

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Dang it all!!

The old MS Photo Editor used to do all the resizing and colour balance adustments that
I needed, plus scaled printing and distortions (set for 640 wide and the file was compressed
accordingly). Could never get it to work fully after XP-Pro sevice pack 2. So I use it on an
old PII running Windows 2000 and transfer files via USB drive.

I have never found another "Basic Photo Editor" with the range of easy manipulations for MS
operating systems (they are all old systems, newer isn't always better).

Just my experience.

Tim
 

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For those who have a really basic setup with no photo expertise, there is a simple way to produce a 640 pixel photo. MS Paint is still on everyone's Windows computer on the Programs/Accessories list.

Start MS Paint, open the photo, and click on Image menu/Attributes. That will tell you how big it is at the moment. Then go to Image/Stretch-Skew and you can adjust height and width by a % to get to the right size - make sure you use the same number for both height% and width%. 

Save As (different file name - I put a -6 on my 640 pixel versions) and you are done.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Yep!  MS Paint is my photo-editor of choice!  Slow, tedious and quite boring, but it does what my addled brain needs, (except for the "overall" enhancement functions, like "brightness" etc.).

When "resizing" you do have to remember to do BOTH the horizontal and vertical adjustments by entering the SAME percentage value in BOTH boxes.

If you want to make the image no more than 640 pixels wide, divide 640 by the photo's present width and multiply by 100.  If the answer is not an integer (no fraction) round the percentage DOWN to the next whole number.  

e.g.: if the photo is 1024 wide now, then: 

640 / 1024 = .625 * 100 = 62.5 rounded DOWN = 62

Unfortunately, unlike irfanview, the save function does not allow an adjustment of the compression ratio of a .jpg file, it just uses some standard value.
 

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If you're running Windows XP and want to quickly resize one of your pictures, just head over to http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/downloads/powertoys/xppowertoys.mspx and download Image Resizer.    Run the program.  

Now, if you select a picture file and right click on it, you will see an option that says "Resize Pictures".   Select that option and the next screen you see will be this:


Just leave the "Small" selected and hit OK - it will make a copy of that file and place it in the same directory.   The copy will have (Small) as part of the file name.   At the same time, it will shrink the file size down considerably.   

Quick and easy.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I just discovered the resizer tool will do multiple files at a time.  Just select all the files by holding down the control key while clicking on the files and then right click to get the context menu and select the resize tool.  NICE!
 
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