View Full Version : How to maximize your use of photo technology (Part 1 - History)

07-09-2013, 10:29 AM
How to maximize your use of photo technology (http://www.autogeekonline.net/forum/tips-techniques-how-articles-interacting-discussion-forums/67333-how-maximize-your-use-photo-technology-part-1-history.html) (Part 1 - History)

Technology marches forward unevenly. Currently, the camera manufacturers are engaged in a "megapixel war", trying to achieve increased market share by convincing everyone that they have the most megapixels on the APS-C or full frame chips.

This part of the technology has out-run all of the other components.

When is it good enough?

No matter how our technology advances, it slows down or stops when it begins to exceed our analog human capability to utilize the information.

Digitalization of Audio

We went through many generations of audio technology before arriving at a digital way to store sound.

Here's Thomas A Edison's first phonograph.

We moved through 78 and 45 rpm records, and on to 33 1/3 LPs. The formats continued to change, and the ability to reproduce sound continued to improve.

The early 1980s saw the release of the Compact Disc, which changed the recording medium from analog to digital. The industry moved almost overnight. The massive increase in audio quality made almost everyone decide to change.

Once the change to digital technology was completed, the recording and sampling rate haven't really moved much since the original standardization of the CD technology. Why not? Because it was "good enough". Increases beyond that standard cause an increase in cost, but the human ear can't really detect the difference.

You can argue the point of multi-channel stereo, but that really doesn't change the sampling or recording rate, just the number of them being done simultaneously.

Once the technology exceeded the ability of our (analog) human ears, there was no economic justification to continue to raise the playback rate. The move to digital technology was a "game changer".

In the case of audio technology, the initial implementation of digital was good enough to cause the game change.

The digitalization of Images

When the industry's attention turned to cameras and video players, the digital technology wasn't yet good enough (how fast and how much data could be recorded) to outdo the state of the art in analog technology.

For the purposes of this discussion, we're going to focus on still photography.

The early days of the digital camera didn't produce very good pictures. Every year saw advances not only in the CCD chips, but also the size and speed of the digital storage (Compact Flash, SD cards, etc.)

Because the digital technology wasn't up to competing with analog film technology (film cameras were recording images at somewhere between the equivalent of 8 and 16 megapixels, depending on the quality of the camera and film), every manufacturer had to advance their piece of the technology.

As a result, we're now watching an ever escalating race between the components of the technology.

What the manufacturers forgot was the ability of the human eye to digest that information. The technology ran over our human (analog) capability to look at images years ago.

Television existed for decades with the equivalent of 640 x 480 (VGA). We finally upped the standard to 1080p (HD). I know we've been led to believe that TVs are digital. But, guess what? The act of converting those bits and bytes to a visible screen changes the information to analog.

What does 1080p actually mean? 1080 lines of vertical resolution on the screen. To match those numbers with horizontal numbers at the same resolution is just dependent on the width of the screen that you are looking at.

At 1080, the human eye can no longer detect the individual pixels that make up the screen from point blank range. Now, the only reason you might want to advance beyond that is to create an image that's 20 feet high. In order to view that image, you have to stand a long ways away, which negates the need for higher resolution. Human eye limitations, again.

OK, enough of the history. Part 2 will talk about how to use the technology effectively.


07-09-2013, 10:34 AM
subscribed. Looking forward to more info:thumbup:

Sent from my GT-I9300 using Tapatalk 2

07-09-2013, 11:10 AM
Looking forward to all parts of this topic.


07-09-2013, 12:07 PM
You are probably looking at this on a screen of 1920 x 1080 resolution (OK, maybe 1200 for the vertical number).

How many pixels are involved? 1920 times 1080, or 2,073,600 (~2 megapixels). That's edge to edge both horizontally and vertically.

The technology always has to accommodate the "least common denominator", so a typical web page or forum is running at a horizontal resolution of 800 pixels. That keeps the screen fully visible for older technology.

A picture sized to 800 pixels horizontally will be about 538vertically.

800 times 538 is 430,400 pixels or about 0.420 megapixels.

BTW, I'm not going to go into print technology until a lot later. Resolution of print goes significantly higher than visual technology.

So, why are you busy trying to store 4 to 16 gigapixel images to your storage provider so that you can cram the image onto your post?

It costs you in storage and in bandwidth. The image gets sent, and then most of the pixels get discarded to create the image you see on the screen.

If you let the hardware do it, you get the equivalent of chopping it with an axe. If your image is 4 times as dense as what can be displayed, the video card will just present every 4th pixel on your screen.

It takes a long time to transmit, a long time to load, and the end result is that it gets cut down anyway.

All you accomplished was to make your post load slowly, and you used up a lot of your free storage and bandwidth with your provider. No gain.

No matter how hard you try, you can't put 5 quarts in a gallon jug.

A variety of software packages exist to help you trim the image yourself.

Mike Phillips frequently suggests EZ Thumbnails (link follows)

That one is free. You can find products at different price points.

The granddaddy is Adobe Photoshop, which is what I generally use. I've been using Photoshop for over 20 years to accomplish what I've needed in my professional career. As I've updated releases, the functions of Photoshop have far outstripped my needs, and sometimes I feel like a novice at the controls. Photoshop is a tool for me, not a passion, nor my career. But, it still gets the job done for me.

What's the difference between the free ones and the purchased ones? As you go up the scale, the algorithms in the software to accomplish many tasks (including re-sizing) improve significantly. Photoshop still has to remove pixels, but it attempts to smooth the image by averaging the pixels before it discards some of them.

So, what is a pixel? Nothing more than a point of light. It's the combination of pixels in different colors and intensities that makes an image that the human eye can understand.

Storing your images

Flickr allows me to store up to a terabyte of information for free, and doesn't charge for bandwidth usage. Maximum for an individual photo is 200GB. It does however, insert advertising into your photo libraries. For $49.99 per year, the advertising goes away.

Photobucket forces me to resize my photos. They only give you 2 Gigabytes of storage. The limiting factor for their free account is the 10GB per month of bandwidth.

I'm not going to cover them all. If you want to do your own research, here's a link to a CNet article that discusses most of them, along with their limits.

Comparing the best ways to store your photos online | How To - CNET (http://howto.cnet.com/8301-11310_39-57462902-285/comparing-the-best-ways-to-store-your-photos-online/)

The PURPOSE of storing your photos online is to share them with others. Most people aren't going to print them, only look at them on a screen. Why pay for more storage and bandwidth than you actually need to accomplish the task?

Going back to Photobucket, you can only use 10GB per month of bandwidth. If you store a single 5MB photo, it can only be downloaded 2000 times. If you store 20 photos at 5MB, you're down to 100 views. Certainly, not enough for all the forum viewers to view your post.

When people in the forum quote a post, they should remove the original pictures from the quote. Each additional copy of the photos cuts your monthly limit in half.

We don't all need to see the same stream of pictures over and over again, and each copy results in your photos being retrieved from your storage provider.

Mike Phillips has provided an excellent how to (and why to) here

Where should I store my photos?

I know a tremendous number of people all over the world who are in the technology business. Their universal goal is to get a competitive advantage so they can make money. Your interests aren't really all that high on their list of priorities.

I store my images on MY computer. In full resolution. Why? Because I don't know where the technology goes next. I may want those extra pixels some time in the future. I also don't trust the cloud providers to preserve my information. Losses do occur. Companies go out of business. I've got stuff on my computer that dates back to long before the Internet. Yes, it's a server with 4 Terabytes of storage. But, everything I've ever wanted to preserve is still safe and sound. I make backups, and store them externally in another location.

When I share photos, I reduce the image to what can actually be seen on a computer screen. I win, the viewer wins. Faster load times, and less chance of exceeding limits.

Since all of the images I post online are copies, I'm comfortable using whatever medium is being supplied to store my photos.

In the case of Autogeek, it's their photo storage.

Unlimited storage space, no bandwidth limits. The photos will be available as long as the forum exists.

All I have to do is get the photos down to a size that the forum can store and retrieve.

Part 3 will talk about how to use all those extra megapixels.


07-09-2013, 12:33 PM
In regards to storing photos, both for backup and use on the forums, Dropbox is an excellent option! Upload the photo, click on the "share" link, and paste the URL into an image tag. You can even set Dropbox up to sync certain folders as well as your mobile photos.

07-09-2013, 12:54 PM
I see people on this (and other) forums all the time lamenting the fact that they are trying to show something (in the case of this forum, it's usually a defect in paint) and can't get the camera to focus because the focus point ends up being whatever is reflecting on the surface.

I can get closer and closer and try to put something like a finger or a coin on the image to create a focus point for the camera.

Personally, I go to manual focus whenever I need it.

Many people aren't comfortable enough with a camera to do anything but let it do the focusing. After all, that's why the point and shoot camera market is so healthy.

There's another way, and I'll attempt to demonstrate it.

Here's a photo that I used in another post just the other day. I commented on the damage to the vehicle, including scratches, chemical damage, and acid burn holes from a battery explosion.
It's not really easy to see the damage in this photo.


BTW, my camera is 10 years old, and only has a 6 megapixel sensor. Good enough for photos online, and for 3x5 or 4x6 prints. When I need bigger, I'll replace the camera body. I bought it when I knew the digital quality was "good enough".

If I take that same image and crop it before I resize it, I can show a much more detailed image.



It's the same base photo image.

No effort to get it to focus, just zoom in on the pixels I want and crop it before I resize it for the web. But, now you can see what I'm talking about, without me having to take yet another photo.

Regardless of your political outlook, here's one of the best images of how a picture can be zoomed that I've ever seen.
President Barack Obama's Inaugural Address by David Bergman - NEW VERSION FOR PRINT (http://gigapan.com/gigapans/17217)

I don't know how well it will work on your computer, as I'm running an overclocked, water cooled i7 with an nVidia GTX 670 video card. (I know I haven't updated to the GTX 700 series yet, but I do my upgrades based on needs, not whatever the vendors release.

If you zoom into that panorama, you can actually see individual faces.

That's the technology that makes me want to keep as many pixels as I can in my photos. It's just not really available yet to normal forums and web pages.

So, how do I get better pictures within the framework of today's technology? Better lenses. The lens creates the quality of the image that is cast upon the sensor. The better the image, the better the resulting picture. The analog component determines how good the picture can be. It works just like our eyes.

Part 4 will talk about print technology, but I'm out of time for today.


Mike Phillips
07-09-2013, 01:11 PM
Wow Jim!

Awesome information and a most excellent article. You've really done a good job of clearing up some of the confusion and mystery around displaying and working with pictures on the Internet.

Plus I looked at the code for the picture in the beginning of this article and you've uploaded it to your free gallery here on AGO.

I've used the title of this thread and created a >clickable< blue link out of the title so anyone that wants o share this article on pretty much any forum on the Internet can highlight, copy and paste the blue, clickable title.

And I've made this a "sticky".

Nice. :bowdown:


For anyone that wants to see what pictures look like when someone deletes them off their Photobucket gallery, click the below link.

More missing pictures (http://www.autogeekonline.net/forum/tricks-tips-techniques/34829-how-test-single-stage-clear-coat-paint-2.html#post588128)

Notice how what is being talked about is now useless without the pictures for reference?


07-09-2013, 01:23 PM
Plus I looked at the code for the picture in the beginning of this article and you've uploaded it to your free gallery here on AGO.

Every photo I've ever posted on Autogeek is in the AGO gallery.

First post ended up as a thumbnail, and then I figured out what I needed to do to get the photos inline. (800 pixels wide)


07-09-2013, 01:52 PM
I use fotki.com to store my photo's. Last subscription was $30 for 3yrs and have unlimited space to upload my photo's. Nice thing there is whem I do something people want to buy a picture, they will print it, and send directly to that person. Yeah it takes some time for me to get paid, and they get there cut from the sale, but I don't have to anymore work to sell the prints.