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JOWBR Photograph Guidelines

The following guidelines should provide enough information to enable you to produce pictures which will be used in the JOWBR Project.

Our aim is produce a picture that it legible and meets the following specifications:

  • Format:   JPEG
  • File Size:†  To be no more than 500K
  • Dimensions:   Not to exceed 800 x 600 pixels

Scanning Photographs

If you have existing photographs and you intend to scan them, here are some guidelines:

  1. Use a flatbed scanner for best results.

  2. Put a piece of black paper or card directly behind the image being scanned.  This reduces the amount of "break-through" of the image on the other side of the page.

  3. Make sure there's no dirt or dust on the scanner plate (or on the image itself).  The scanner won't know the difference and will assume that any dust is part of the image.

  4. Try to get the image reasonably flat.  If there are any bumps or creases, the image won't scan properly.

  5. Line up the image properly in the scanner.  While most image manipulation programs will allow you to rotate an image, this usually results in loss of image quality unless you happen to be rotating it by exactly 90 degrees or 180 degrees.

  6. Choose a suitable scan resolution (75 dpi would be ideal).  If you can't select that resolution directly, scan at a higher resolution with a view to re-scaling the image after you have scanned it.  But DON'T get carried away when selecting the scan resolution there's not much point in choosing 600dpi (you'd be generating a gigantic output file for no good reason).

Using a Digital Camera

Photographing stones with a Digital Camera is not to different from using a camera that uses a film, the same basic rules apply:

  1. Ensure you do not take a picture with the sun in your face.

  2. Try to position yourself so you can avoid shadows being thrown across the stone.

  3. Try to position yourself so you are directly in front of the stone and ideally crouch so you are directly in front of it in all respects.

  4. Take a picture of the whole stone not just the inscription.

Digital Cameras refer to the quality / standard of pictures possible in Megapixels.  A camera rate at 1 Megapixel will be sufficient.  If itís higher, that is not a problem.  At this stage you should be aiming to take as high a quality picture as possible (you donít want to revisit) but bear in mind the higher quality the picture the more space it will require on the memory card / stick.  Many cameras will let you change the quality of the pictures you take and if you can change the size then, ideally, go for 1024 x 768.  Try these setting out at home before you start photographing the cemetery.

Saving the files

The pictures from either your scanner, camera, or other source need to be JPEG Format.  Bitmap, Gif, PDF, etc. are not acceptable formats for this particular project.  Most image programs will allow conversion between formats if required.

JPEG settings

JPEG is known as a lossy image compression technique: you end up with a much reduced filesize, but some information has been discarded.

This is controlled by the JPEG quality setting in the program.  Basically, the larger the number, the higher the quality and the larger the output file.  Although it typically holds values between 1 and 100, it is NOT a percentage!  Even with the quality set to 100 you're going to lose some information; that is the way JPEG works.

So, what quality setting to use?  This is very much "suck it and see": it will vary depending on the image being processed (i.e. whether it's sharp to begin with, or contains text which must be readable in the final image) and how much of a trade-off you wish to make between image quality and file size.

Some rules-of-thumb:

  1. I would suggest you start at a quality setting of somewhere around 75 and try adjusting it up or down until you get the effect you want, a sharp image less than 500K.

  2. Values above 90 increase the file size dramatically, with little or no improvement in perceived image quality.

  3. Low values (i.e. below about 50) do produce extremely small files: the downside is that you get artefacts appearing in the image.  Any sharp lines (text etc.) get a sort of "ghosting" effect rather like watching a picture on a TV with a bad aerial.

Also see Suggestions on how to photograph tombstones.

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Last Update: 26 Aug 2003   WSB.
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