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How to Post Images to the WW&F Discussion Forum

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Ed Lecuyer:
There are multiple ways to add images to your posts. And, with many different formats and permutations, it's hard to give specific instructions that are going to work every time. However, I'll try to cover the most common possibilities in this posting. (I'm also going to keep this specific for PC applications - Mac users will have figure this out on their own, but the basic principles will still apply.)

STEP 1: Get an image.
The basic idea is to get a digital picture somehow into the PC. If you have a digital camera, this is pretty easy: connect the USB cable from the PC to the camera and follow the on-screen prompts. When it's all said and done, you should end up with photos in a folder on your computer. Typically, this is something like "My Pictures" found in "My Documents".

If you have a physical picture (or slide) that you want to post, it needs to be "scanned." A scanner is a computer accessory that takes the picture and digitizes it for use on the PC. Scanners can be found for under $100 (and can be as high as $500.) You can often use a scanner at a public library or copy shop. You'll also need some software to do the scanning with (usually the scanner will come with something.) You may find yourself dealing with TWAIN which is not "train" with a lisp, but the interface used to connect scanners to the computer. TWAIN, incidentally, is an acronym for Technology Without An Important Name. Anyhow, once you're done, the photo should end up in "My Pictures".

--- Quote ---As I write this tutorial, I'm going to try this myself - from scratch. I have a camera in my phone, and I have some pictures of the ROW washed out just north of the Top of the Mountain. I plugged the phone into my PC, and was told I needed to install the CD that came with the phone. In my case, this meant ActiveSync - the application that Windows uses to communicate with my type of phone.

Once ActiveSync was installed, I opened 'My Computer' then 'Mobile Device' and "My Pictures' and found... nothing. OK. My phone has a memory card, the pictures must be there, so I went back and found 'My Windows Mobile-Based Device'. Opened that, Storage Card, My Documents, My Pictures... aha! There they are. I discovered that they have pretty boring names: IMAGE_00#.jpg and they can't be previewed or opened until I copy them to my PC (remember, they are still on the phone.)

I opened the Edit menu in the Window that shows the picture names and choose 'Select All'. Then Edit, Copy. This puts the images on the Windows Clipboard. I opened My Documents on my Windows Desktop, then opened My Pictures, and then Edit menu, Paste. All the pictures were copied from my phone to the PC. Neat.

Finally, I could double click on each picture and see what it is. In my case IMAGE_007.jpg through IMAGE_013.jpg contain pictures of the washouts.
--- End quote ---

STEP 2: Edit the image.
Undoubtedly, you have heard the term "mega-pixel" used to describe the capabilities of a digital camera. Generally speaking, the more "mega-pixels", the better the image... or so they want you to believe. This is true for making prints. However, for posting pictures on the web, not only are they not important, too many will make the image unusable!

A pixel is a "picture element" - basically a square dot of a single color. These dots blend together to form the images on your computer screen. Most computer screens are 1024 pixels high by 768 pixels wide. Thus, any picture that is wider than 600 pixels or so is going to be difficult to see over the web. (Also, the larger the number of pixels, the more memory the picture requires - also an issue for web users.) The idea is to crop and/or scale your picture so that it is no larger than 600 pixels wide.

To get this done, you need an image editor. Adobe Photoshop is an example of a high-end image editing program. In fact, "photoshopping" an image has entered the nomenclature to mean manipulating the picture in some way. Some people can get really good at this, creating things that *look* real, but are not. Anyhow, we need something far more basic.

I did some research and found a great free image editor. It has everything you need:

Crop the image to cut out any extra gunk. (For example, if you scanned the image, you may have a large area of white space.) Rotate the image so that it is oriented properly - if necessary. Scale (or resize) the image so that it is no wider than 600 pixels. (Use "maintain aspect ratio" to keep the proper perspective.) Finally, use Save As to save the image, maybe with a file name that includes "for web" or "small format". Always save the image as a 'JPG' or 'JPEG' file - in short this is the easiest for web use.

--- Quote ---In my case, I decided to try Paint.Net. I clicked on the above link, pressed Download Now and saved the download to my Windows Desktop. This made a .zip file, which I double-clicked to find ''. Double-clicked that and extracted/installed.

Started Paint.Net and choose File, Open. It went right to the My Pictures folder and I quickly found an image that I wanted to post: IMAGE_009.jpg. It's a pretty good shot of the landslide. It doesn't need to be cropped (although I see that you can crop by using the selection tool, then choosing the Image menu, Crop to Selection.) The picture is, however, rotated 90 degrees. Image menu, Rotate 90 degrees Counter-Clockwise... Bingo. Now to resize it: Image menu, Resize. It indicates that the image is 1280 pixels wide. Knock that down to 600 and press OK. Finally, File menu, Save As, change the File Name to 'Washout 01 small.jpg', press Save, and OK the preview at 95% quality. (Note, see step 4b for more information regarding quality and file size.)
--- End quote ---

STEP 3: Post the image.
This is probably the hardest part. Realize that the Internet is just a big connection of computers. When you open up a web page, you are looking at someone's "public" computer. The WW&F forum is 'hosted' by some computer somewhere. There are other computers that host images. Here are a few popular web sites for posting railroad images:

Basically, the idea is to create an account at one of these sites and put the picture there for the entire world to see. Then, you can link to the image from the WW&F forum. However, these sites all have some sort of membership requirements and approval process.

An easier alternative is to 'attach' the photo to the posting, which I'll cover later in step 4b.

The final (and somewhat harder) alternative is to use your own public server and upload your image there. (If you have access to your own server, you probably aren't reading this tutorial, unless you want to be inspired by the author's wit - or are trying to find some error or omission.) See step 4c for the basic details.

--- Quote ---For me, I belong to the NERail discussion list and I view their photo archive all the time. I opened the site and clicked "Add a Photo." I need to be a new member (the site and the discussion list are not the same) so I created an account.... Darn. The admin of that web site has to manually approve new members, which will probably take a few days. What a drag. I'll guess I'll go to the attachment method.
--- End quote ---

STEP 4a: Link to the image. (Harder way)
Now that you have the image online, you should be able to locate a link to it. Using the three sites I mentioned earlier, you get the link like this...
Open the photo you want to post. Under the photo, you will see a section titled "Share this photo?".
Here you will find a link-friendly URL, such as:
Using the mouse, highlight the link (starting with the 'http' and including the id number) and press CTRL-C to copy it to the Windows clipboard.

Open the photo you want to post. Above the photo, you will see
Link to this photo:
Using the mouse, highlight the link (starting with the 'http' and including the id number) and press CTRL-C to copy it to the Windows clipboard.

RR Picture Archives:
Open the photo you want to post. Beneath the photo, you will see
Link to this page:
Using the mouse, highlight the link (starting with the 'http' and including the id number) and press CTRL-C to copy it to the Windows clipboard.

Once you have the link on the clipboard, start the post on the forum that you want to attach the photo to. Where you want the link to appear in your post, press CTRL-V. This pastes the link from the Windows Clipboard into the posting, which will now look something like this:

Here is a great photo of the WW&F I found on the web:
I hope you enjoy it.

However, the forum software doesn't know how to link to these photos yet. Use the mouse to highlight the link that you pasted into the post, and click the "Insert Hyperlink" button. (It looks like a sheet of paper next to a globe.) The link will now be surrounded by 'url' and '/url' like this:

Here is a great photo of the WW&F I found on the web:
I hope you enjoy it.

(Note that the url tags will be surrounded by [] and not ||)

Click Preview or Post like you would for any other message.

STEP 4b: Attaching the image to the post. (Easiest way)
Images less than 200KB can be attached directly to the post. However, this adds an extra procedure to the editing process (step 2) - the image must be highly compressed and may lose some quality.

When saving a JPG file, most image editing applications will allow you to specify the 'quality' of the image. The higher the quality, the clearer the image, the lower the quality, the smaller amount of space the image will require. Experiment with the quality setting until the file size of the image is less then 200KB. The 'Paint.Net' application (see step 2, above) has a great feature when saving images that tells you exactly how many KB the image will be before you save it and as you adjust the quality.

In your post on the WW&F forum, click 'Additional Options.' Locate the Attach section, press Browse, open the My Pictures folder and double-click the photo you want to attach. The photo will now be attached to the posting - but will not be visible until the final posting is completed (it does not appear in the preview.)

--- Quote ---In my example, I discovered that 'Washout 01 small.jpg' was about 400KB - too big to attach. So, I opened up the original image in Paint.Net, rotated and resized as before, but this time choose a lower quality setting. 87% gave me a 197KB file - perfect. Save as, then attach to the posting... Mission completed.
--- End quote ---

STEP 4c: Embedding the image in the post. (Hardest way)
You can, if you have the right image host, embed the image directly into your posting. However, you need to have direct access to the image, which the free image hosts I've covered here do not allow. Paid image hosts such as Photobucket allow this feature; this is the service that Mike Fox and Brendan Barry use to publish their images.

Keith Taylor:
The one time I wanted to include a photo in a posting, I chose the attachment method. As I recall the posting showed a thumbnail image. It worked very well, and if a Luddite like me could work the attachment method....I suspect anyone could!

Ed Lecuyer:
The trick with the attachment method is to keep the photo to under 128KB. The Paint.Net application is really handy for getting this right.

FWIW: I had never used (or heard of) Paint.Net before last night, and found it to be better than many commercial software products. It will now be part of my standard toolset for work and play.

Keith Taylor:
M/S Outlook has the ability to adjust the size of attached photos. When you attach a picture, if you click on "attachment options" you can adjust the size of the image. If I have a large size image I want to post...I send myself an e-mail where I have downsized the image. I then save the now smaller sized image for posting. It saves having to download and learn yet one more program.

Tom Casper:
Me to Keith.  I find that option very handy as a lot of the BBds limit picture size.  Outlook Express doesn't offer that is what I am told by my friends that have that.  I will have to look into for them.

Tom C.


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