Frequently asked questions:
What kind of camera do you use?
Right now I'm using a Canon Powershot A50 digital camera, which can take photos at a maximum of 1280x960. I've used Sony and Nikon digital cameras as well, but the Canon just seemed to take better pictures. I always take photos at the maximum quality, and maximum size. (Well, I take them with minimum jpeg compression, but I do use compressed images vs. images not compressed at all.) I wish I had more megapixels. The A50's got about 1.2.
My older, and not so good-looking pictures were taken with an Olympus Stylus analog point and shoot camera, and then mostly transferred onto PhotoCD. I didn't do any Photoshop work on them, and I just left the colors the way they came back on PhotoCD, which sometimes was good and sometimes wasn't. I actually think the Olympus Stylus is a pretty cool camera, and it's just the post processing that isn't up to snuff. One of these days I'll go back and clean them up so they're more worth looking at.
OK, well, I wrote the above a while ago. I now use a Canon Powershot ELPH S500 5 megapixels. I used a Canon G3 for a little while, with better optics and lenses that can be attached, but I found the small form factor was worth more than the extra features. The S500 is on my belt at all times, I sold the G3. 12/6/2005
What would you say is your "secret" to taking photos?
I don't have any secret for taking photos, other than having my camera with me pretty much all the time. One of my favorite things about using a digital camera is that since there's no fear of wasting film. Because of this I am uninhibited, and will photograph anything interesting to me.
Well, the secret to taking good photos of musicians is to get close enough to them that the flash illumnates them well, but that's probably obvious enough.
What, if any, software do you use for creating the web pages?
Full size images
After I get digital images off of the camera, I generally just use Photoshop.
- The "auto levels" command sometimes helps, but usually I need to go in with the "Levels" command, and mess with the contrast, and brightness with the little triangular sliders. If I'm going to lose information doing this, sometimes I'll use QuickMask to mask the sky or something, so that I don't bleach it out.
- Sometimes I'll use the Sharpen filter, or the Unsharp Mask, but it's much better if the photo is clear enough originally that you don't have to use those.
- I'll also crop the image as necessary.
- When I go to save it, I'll save it with as much jpeg compression as I can stand, somewhere around 2 or 3 in Photoshop. (Photoshop 5.5 and 6 allow you to preview what the compression looks like, and tells you the size in kilobytes. 30k is a decent size for images, 100k is a bit big)
- I have some F-keys set to do things that I frequently do, like reduce the width to 720 (so it'll fit on a 1024x768 screen in a browser with thumbnail icons on the left), or to rotate 90 degrees clockwise, etc.
After I'm done with the original, then I'll use Equilibrium's DeBabelizer to take the batch of processed photos and size them so their larger dimension is 100 pixels; either 100 pixels high, or 100 wide, with maximum jpeg compression. DeBabelizer seems to be able to do more compression that PhotoShop does, though you could do this step of making icon thumbnails with Photoshop if you didn't have DeBabelizer.
Onto the web
To get stuff onto the web, I'll put all the full size edited images in a folder, for example photos1. In photos1 I'll also put two html files, index.html and icons.html as well as a folder called icons. In the icons folder, I'll put all of the icon thumbnails reduced by DeBablizer.
I'll then use DreamWeaver to open the "icons.html" frame pane. DreamWeaver allows you to drag a whole bunch of images from Windows Explorer onto a page open in DreamWeaver , and Dreamweaver creates the html for them all at once, including the Width and Height tags. The Width and Height tags are useful so that the page will display without all the images needing to load first. Here's what the html DreamWeaver creates might look like.
<img src="icons/AUT_7904-.jpg" width="100" height="75"><img src="icons/AUT_7905-.jpg" width="75" height="100"><img src="icons/AUT_7906-.jpg" width="100" height="75">
And here's what you'd see on the page:
To put in the links, I'll use TextPad to do a search and replace, with the "Regular Expressions" box checked.
<a href="\1\2" target="full"><img src="\1icons/\2"\3></a>\n
Here's what you get:
<a href="AUT_7904-.jpg" target="full"><img src="icons/AUT_7904-.jpg" width="100" height="75"></a>
<a href="AUT_7905-.jpg" target="full"><img src="icons/AUT_7905-.jpg" width="75" height="100"></a>
<a href="AUT_7906-.jpg" target="full"><img src="icons/AUT_7906-.jpg" width="100" height="75"></a>
And now you'll see this on the icons page:
I generally just copy the frame page index.html from another one I did before, and put in a title, and the name of the first image that comes up in the viewing window when you first get to the page. Here's a complete sample index.html file:
<html><head><title>Title of the Page</title></head>
<FRAMESET COLS="140, *">
<FRAME MARGINWIDTH=0 MARGINHEIGHT=0 NORESIZE NAME="icons" SRC="icons.html">
<FRAME NAME="full" SRC="name_of_image_user_sees_first.jpg" MARGINWIDTH=0 MARGINHEIGHT=0>
Upload the images, the folders, and the html files to your web site, and you're done!
(If you use a Mac, BBEdit pretty much replaces TextPad... I think you can do the same drag and drop from the Finder into DreamWeaver...)