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Uploading pictures in earthli Albums

Published by marco on

Updated by marco on

Here are a few tips for uploading pictures to the earthli server.

Now that everybody’s got a great digital camera that takes super hi-res pictures in super high quality, we’ve got pictures that are too big to display and take too long to upload and download.

The problem

Your camera will typically take a picture at 1600 × 1200 with a JPEG compression of 90-95% (if you’ve set high quality).

That results in pictures that are anywhere from 500KB to 700KB. My camera takes them even bigger and stores pictures up to 900KB in size.

There’s a few things wrong here:

  1. 1600 × 1200 is way too big to display on screen. Most of you have album options that constrain the picture size to 640 × 480 so it doesn’t make huge scroll bars all over the place. If you click the picture, it shows in full size and then you’ve got massive scroll bars anyway.
  2. 500KB+ per picture is too big for my server. I don’t have unlimited space and we should aim to keep pictures at a reasonable size (big enough for nice online quality, but no bigger).
  3. Huge pictures will just take longer to download and make your albums look slow … all for quality that a web browser can’t display anyway.

Now you ask…

How can I fix this?

When you upload, you should first work on the pictures a bit to get them into postable format (i.e. doesn’t take too much space and isn’t ridiculously big). That means you’ll be making a second set of pictures from the raw JPGs you got off of your camera.

First of all … BACK UP YOUR PICTURES … make sure you are working with a separate batch so if you mess something up, you can always start over. I repeat, BACK UP YOUR PICTURES, earthli Support will not be able to rescue lost pictures :-D

Now, let’s work on those pictures…

  • Install Irfanview
    1. Download Irfanview 3.80 or higher. It has a neat batch-processing feature.
    2. Once you’ve got Irfanview installed, open it up.
  • Start Batch processing mode
    1. Hit ‘B’ (File…Batch Conversion/Rename) to bring up the batch processing dialog (this lets you work on several pictures at once without opening/closing each one by hand)
  • Select your files
    1. On the top right, browse to where your pictures are
    2. Select the ones you want to convert and click ‘Add’ or just hit ‘Add all’
    3. Now you should have a list of files on the left side
  • Select JPEG conversion options
    1. On the bottom right, you’ve got options to rename and/or convert your files. We want to convert files, so click “Batch conversion”
    2. Choose “JPG − JPEG Format” output format
    3. Click Options and select the 80% JPEG quality.
    4. I also highly recommend to “Save as progressive JPEG”. That lets slower connections gradually fill in your picture and is very nice for browsing quickly through pictures.
    5. Also, make sure that “Keep original EXIF data” is checked. At some point, I’ll enable the feature on the web site that automatically extracts the date from pictures when uploaded, so you don’t have to fill in date and time anymore. That info is read from the EXIF data.
    6. Click OK to save the JPEG settings
  • Select sizing options
    1. Click the “Set advanced options” button
    2. Make sure all checkboxes are off to begin with (so you don’t get any surprises)
    3. Click “Resize” to enable the second group of controls
    4. Click “Set new size” and select 1024 for both width and height. Don’t worry, it’s not going to stretch your pictures all out of whack (see next step). If you’re using irfanview 3.90 or higher, you’ll see slightly different options. Instead of “Set new size”, choose “Set long side to” and enter 1024. Same results.
    5. Click “Preserve Aspect Ratio” so that the resizing effect keeps the same width/height ratio your picture started with and you get no stretching.
    6. These settings will give you pictures that are, at most, 1024 pictures in either dimension, regardless of whether you took it landscape or portrait.
    7. Click the “Use Resample function (better quality)” … well, because it says better quality. Sounds good.
  • Choose folder and go!
    1. Now, you can choose an output directory on the middle right
    2. Click “Start” in the column of buttons on the upper left and it churns away, converting your pictures into exactly the right format, qualiy and size for posting to the web.

Upload away

If you use this system, you’ll have well-behaved pictures that don’t hog server space, that have a good balance between download speed and picture quality and, best of all, are nice and consistent between batches and albums.

If you’ve got any more questions, feel free to post them in the comments or email me directly.