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Photo Technical Page

Current Specs for The Top Ten Photo Gallery Conclusions from the notes below are that photo images should be jpeg (.jpg) format, 130 pixels per inch in resolution, and scaled to a height of 360 pixels. Image quality should be 6 (high) when saving in jpeg format. Color depth (pixel depth) should be maximum available (Windows and Mac both default to 8 bits per pixel). Portrait photos should be cropped to show only the person's head as for a passport photo. The person should be in swimming attire; t-shirt, sweats, or warmups are OK, but street clothes are not OK. Examples of our best photos are available.

Photos for publicity purposes require different specs from those used for the web. The Palm Beach Post was called and asked what specs they would want for a digitized photo. We were told "200 dpi, 10" wide, jpeg format saved with quality of 8 or "maximum" on a scale of 1-10". I'll guess that is a 300kb file and none of our current images are even close to that specification. We do, however, have "art" images for maybe 1/4 of our photos that would allow us to create an image of that spec. So, building a Photo Gallery is a long term process and one that requires planning and funding.

Need for Collaboration: The Top Ten Photo Gallery accumulated about 80 photos prior to LC Nationals (most scanned by Vickie Stewart and Meegan Wilson) and 138 more were added from the Orlando weekend by Carl House. I (Carl) particularly tried to learn, establish standards, and document what I learned in adding the photos from LC Nationals. While I am a good photographer, I had never scanned anything before Labor Day weekend and had never used any photo manipulation software. I did ask questions of anybody it seemed could help, and was given very liberal access to the Kinko's equipment on a very generous basis. But it should also be clear that I still have a lot to learn.

I've also discovered that it's hard to find people that know much. When I would ask questions of people in commercial establishments that make a living scanning images, I often get ill-informed or evasive answers.

I think photography in our web sites is going to be very important, and I'm hoping that a dialogue will develop that will help us learn from each other. This page will be revised based on conversations with people contributing photos to the Top Ten Photo Gallery. There is a very big range in the quality of pictures in our pictures. It's my hope that as it grows the Photo Gallery will have more and more high quality pictures and that our weaker pictures will be replaced.

Please send contributions for this page. Other people may differ with me on information here, and they may know more than I do. So, please send your comments.

Technical Standards for Photos in the Top Ten Photo Gallery: Until someone helps us define more appropriate standards, we believe that image resolution of 130 or 150 pixels per inch is desired and that portrait photos should be 4 inches tall on the screen which requires asking Photoshop 4.0 for a height of 2.5 inches. Height can also be expressed as 375 pixels (150 ppi x 2.5") Width can float; height is most often critical so that some text can get on the screen when a web page is displayed. This standard (130) is based on information from the Photoshop 4.0 manual that says that Mac monitors are 72 ppi while PC monitors are 96 ppi and it is a good idea to scan at 30% more than your monitor will display. (When I find the page references for this, I'll add them here.)

These standards appear appropriate for my monitor which has resolution of 1024×768. We should consider what screen resolution is being used by most browsing people and whether or not the above standards are right for the greater number of our people. (Recall that VGA was 640×480, Super-VGA was 800×600, and new monitors are offering 1280×1024 and 1600×1280).

Resolution (ppi vs. dpi): Learning the difference between pixels/inch & dots/inch was a hurdle, so here it is (from the Photoshop 4.0 User Guide). Image resolution is usually measured in pixels per inch.

Monitors and printers are characterized by dots per inch. A Mac monitor is typically 72 dpi. A PC monitor is typically 96 dpi. Most laser printers have output resolution of 300-600 dpi and produce good results with images which have image resolution of 72-150 ppi.

Digital Cameras: Based on my very little knowledge, it appears that digital cameras for $1000 or less may not give satisfactory results. However, Bill Tingley says most photos produced by Associated Press photographers are digital and I got the impression that their cameras cost about $6,000. Jay Greenbaum had a Nikon/Kodak digital camera at the Showdown that is said to have cost $27,000; our photos of Jim Lilley and the two unidentified swimmers were taken with it. We get best results by taking pictures with a good camera, producing prints, and scanning the prints (unless we have access to a professional quality digital camera). Michael Moore, who has a digital camera, says "(conventional) photos have the advantage of having billions of data elements and can be enlarged or cropped while losing less quality". Two magazine reviews of digital cameras have appeared recently. New Media magazine compared digital cameras from 18 companies in its October 13, 1997 issue. Prices ranged from $499 to $14,880; Agfa, Fujifilm, Minolta, Nikon, Polaroid and Sony make cameras selling over $1000. PC Magazine reported on the $1000 Kodak DC120 and the $2400 Fujix DS-300 cameras in its September 9, 1997 issue. Popular Photography reviewed 16 digital cameras, all but the Fujix DS-300 under $900, in its September, 1997 issue.

Scanners: We used a Hewlett Packard 4C available at Kinko's for scanning photos from LC Nationals and we think it did a superb job. It scans at 600 dpi vs. 300 dpi for the HP 5C.

Software for Manipulating Photo Images: Photoshop 4.0 appears to be the most frequently recommended software and it is said that the power and range of this software is simply amazing. It's also easy to use. Cost is about $850.

PC Magazine (9/23/97) announced the 1997 Shareware Awards and identified Paint Shop Pro from JASC as the overall winner for 1997. People who use it say it does all they need to do with photos. It can be downloaded for free and the full version on CD-ROM costs $65. Paint Shop Pro has a particularly nice scan feature which puts thumbnail photos on the screen so you can see what you have and select easily. Tech support at Adobe said that Photoshop 4.0 has no such feature.

James Coates, in his Chicago Tribune column of 9/7/97, reported "For my PC the hands-down killer application for graphics viewing is PhotoVue by Hamrick Software, Inc. which, at the click of a key, lets you find and then view every sound and image on your computer. PhotoVue lets you set up slideshows of these files, provides excellent zoom-in and cropping of images and otherwise makes a cake walk out of dealing with multimedia files. On the Mac you'll find BigPicture, a shareware by Canadian Mac maven John Montbrian. BigPicture matches PhotoVue's Windows wizardry on the Mac feature for feature."

Mary Pohlman's husband, John, sent us a splendid .jpg image of her Women's 45+ Championship Relay Team and later made these comments. "I have access to a Hewlett-Packard 4C scanner; it's a great scanner. I scanned that picture of Mary's relay team at 150 dpi resolution and a 32-bit color depth. If I need to adjust the size of the image, I use a shareware program "GraphicConverter." I am a Macintosh user, by the way. I downloaded this program from the "Macworld" website. If I were to write image specifications for a large scale operation like the Photo Gallery, I would have folks send images with the best color depth they can get. A maximum of 350 vertical and 550 horizontal pixels should work. Images of this size should fit nicely on a standard 15 inch monitor (supporting approximately 800 x 600 pixels) leaving room for scroll bars, menus, etc. Those specifications should also leave room for some text below the picture."

Photos on Kodak CD-ROMs: We did not have good experience with LC Nationals photos on Kodak CD-ROM, but I think its because we didn't know much about what we were doing. In order to work effectively with photos Kodak CD-ROM's with Photoshop 4.0 you need a plug-in called the "acquire module" that can be downloaded from "www.kodak.com" (800-235-6325). (update 2/20/97) We have a little more experience with CD-ROM's now and find that Microsoft Internet Explorer version 4.71 can directly open or download a .pcd file selected inside an html menu. Netscape Navigator 4.04 can open it, but to do so you must type its path and name in the URL line in the browser; it cannot open it from an html menu. Similarly, MIE appears it might be capable of opening a .pcd file on a CD-ROM or floppy drive, but Netscape does not appear to be able to do so. Both MIE and Netscape use Microsoft Photo Editor to open a .pcd file. Basically, I find MIE far more capable than Netscape on these matters. Netscape particularly has trouble referencing another drive, but MIE does it easily.

Content Standards for the Photo Gallery In addition to technical standards, there should also be content standards. Most of our photos are portraits. Their purpose is to enable us to recognize that person at a swim meet. So far, we've been saying that portrait shots should be closely cropped to the head and shoulders and that people should be in swimming attire. We've accepted only a very few pictures in street clothes. We also include in the photo gallery larger photos, e.g. for relays or where we have an especially interesting photo that deserves full screen display.

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