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Posting Pictures


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#1 IvyCat

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Posted 06 October 2006 - 03:49 PM

As many of you know, in an effort to keep the board running smoothly, we've set a policy that limits the file upload size to 250 KB per post.

What does this mean? The total file size of each post must be under 250KB, including pictures. There's no limit to the number of pictures that you can put in a post as long as the post's total size is under 250KB.

There are a few important reasons for having this limit:
  • Not everyone uses high-speed internet, so having large files affects their user experience. By keeping the file size lower, it ensures that all users can view the thread and pictures.
  • Server space and bandwidth. Pictures take up more space than text and use more bandwidth when downloaded. In order to balance the user experience with costs, we've decided to create a generous limit for the file size.
Problems
The most common problem encountered when trying to upload a picture is that the file size is too large.

Of course, not everyone has experience with resizing pictures for use on the web, so this post will give you a few suggestions that can help make posting images to the forum easier.

Background on Image File Sizes
One confusing thing about posting pictures is that the physical size of the image (4" x 5", or 640px x 480px) doesn't necessarily indicate how big the file size is. It's possible to have a physically large image that doesn't take up much space and vice-versa.

The most common file type for posting pictures to the web is jpg (jay-peg) as it provides great compression of images.

Other file types like bmp and gif are better used on flat-color images, not for photos.

Digital Cameras
Most digital cameras save images in high-resolution jpg without compression, so their file size is initially very large - often over a Megabyte (1024KB); these images are too large for use on the web without some tweaking.

Most cameras come with software that you can use to edit, resize and compress your photos so that they will fit under the file size limit. Since there are so many different camera and software manufacturers, we can't tell you exactly how to do this, but you should be able to find help in the software or on the camera manufacturer's website.

Online Services
There are many online services that provide photo editing, storage, and social networking capabilities. The most popular at this moment is Flickr (http://www.flickr.com), where you can get tons of free storage and some easy-to-use online tools to edit and share your photos. In fact, Flickr automatically makes smaller versions of your photos and compresses the file size so they still look great, but take up less space.

Once you've got your photos into Flickr, you can easily download them or simply link to them in your posts.

Image Shack (http://imageshack.us) also offers free image hosting and editing.

Free Software
There are lots of free software packages for photo editing on the Net. Some of them, while powerful, can be rather techie and hard to learn, such as Gimp (http://www.gimp.org), which works on Windows, Mac and Linux.

Recently, Google made Picassa (http://picasa.google.com) software available for free which is software that you download and install on your PC. This works on Windows 2000/XP or Linux. It will catalogue your pics and allow you to easily edit them. This is much friendlier software for novice users.

There are plenty of other image editors for free online - a simple search should give you more than you care to look through.

Deleting Old Photos
In the past, administrators have deleted old photos from the forum. There are a few reasons why this is not the best 'solution':
  • It reduces value of forum posts - When people visit old posts that had pics, they don't see them. If you posted an image of a fix or a diagram, it's just gone.
  • Creates extra work for users - having to re-upload your pics is a pain.
  • It only affects the total amount of space used on the server, but doesn't ensure a better user experience.
The Wrap
If you take pictures using a digital camera, you may have software from the camera manufacturer that helps with picture editing. Depending on the manufacturer, this software can be very helpful, or somewhat confusing.

A better option may be to signup for a free account at Flickr or ImageShack, which can resize and compress pics for you while preserving the quality. You can build up your own photo album that you can share with friends and still download pics with a smaller file sizes that still look good and upload them to your posts.

Whatever tool or method you use, please help the community out by trying to keep your file size as low as reasonably possible.