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Digital Travel Advice - Photos

Uploading Photos to Planet Ranger

We created Planet Ranger after discovering how hard it is to keep a web site going whilst on the road. The hardest part of all was getting photos from camera to web page. Every internet Café is different, with different operating systems, software and hardware. So we designed Planet Ranger to take the work of designing the site away from you the traveller. We reckon despite our work, uploading photos is still the hardest part – so here are some tips on making it easy and quick.

How it all works

An image is broken up into small dots called pixels

Digital cameras convert light entering their lenses into a bunch of tiny coloured dots. These dots are called pixels. When put together they form a picture. The number of pixels depends on how many pixels your camera is capable of. This number is called the resolution. When we talk about the resolution of your camera we generally express this in Megapixels, which is just like saying a million pixels. So if you had a 2 Megapixel camera, it would be capable of producing a photo made up of 2 million pixels. When we talk about the resolution of a photo, although the same thing, we usually express it as how many pixels wide and long the photo is. For example 1024x768. This then means we know the aspect ratio of the photo as well as the resolution. The aspect ratio, basically tells us the shape of the photo, whether it is long and thin, or square.

So back to your camera converting light to pixels, the next thing that happens (well actually it happens at the same time, but it’s not important) is that the camera records the colour of each of those pixels to a file on its memory (or memory card). This file is your photo. The format of the file is almost always JPEG. This type of file is the most common, it is a type devised by the Joint Photographics Expert Group that allows an image to be represented with a relatively small file. Planet Ranger will only allow you to upload JPEG files. JPEG files usually end with the suffix "jpg". For example an image from your camera might be called "IMG0003.jpg". Surprisingly enough, the World Wide Web uses the JPEG format to represent images in browsers too. This is because they are small and quick to download. Most of the time however, the resolution of the images on a web page is much smaller than the resolution of images made by your camera. That’s where Planet Ranger comes in. When you upload your photos, Planet Ranger resizes them to a size more appropriate for a web page. It also organises them nicely on the page for you and does all the other time consuming things you would otherwise need to do yourself.

Resizing Photos using image manipulation software

Being able to resize your photos before uploading them is a time saver. But if you are someone who considers themselves a technophobe, then it’s probably not going to save you any time learning how. If you can’t follow the instructions that follow, bite the bullet and do the big upload.

Finding software to resize with

If you’re in an internet café, you need to work out what the best method is going to be to resize your photos. The easiest method is to ask the guy or girl in charge of the place if the computers have a nice image resizing package installed. If the café assistant looks at you blankly, you have either wrongly assumed they speak English, or they don’t know and you are going to have to go it alone. In this instance, check out what operating system your café is running and look at our very brief advice listed below:

Microsoft Windows Vista, Windows XP & Windows 2000

Use Paint, a program provided by the operating system. You need to open each file resize and then save as file type jpg.

Microsoft Windows 98 & Windows 95

You will need to download an image resizing tool from the web. DIMIN image viewer is a small program that will resize your files in a batch. However it will remove the date info from the files you upload to Planet Ranger. See the note below.

Macintosh (Mac OS X)

Use iPhoto, provided by the operating system, fairly simple to use, but sometimes a hassle to find where your photos are actually stored on the hard drive. Just drag them out of iPhoto to where you want them and then delete them from iPhoto.

Resizing the Photos

Resize your images so that the longest side is 640 pixels, or 680 pixels for a panoramic photo

Using your image manipulation package, you can resize your photos to any size you like. When you upload the photos, Planet Ranger will resize your photos to make the longest side 640 pixels in length. Unless the photo is panoramic, which means that the photo is much longer than it is wide, in this case the photo is resized so that its longest side is 680 pixels. So for quickest upload, you should resize your photo to 640 pixels along the longest side or 680 pixels for a panorama. The diagram to the right hopefully makes this clear. To make life easier, save the resized photos to one separate folder. Once done, you can upload them from there.

Things to watch out for

Please take note of the following common traps.

  • It’s a good idea to ask before installing software onto a computer in an internet café, people can be sensitive about this. Last thing you want is an angry Greek internet café owner chasing you down the street after you disabled one of his computers.
  • Make sure you convert copies of your photos. You don’t want to get home and find all your photos are little web sized babies. The best way to ensure this is to copy them from memory card to hard drive – before opening them.
  • If possible, use an image manipulation package that saves EXIF header information. Especially if you want to display the date of the photo on your Planet Ranger page. If your headers get removed, Planet Ranger will be unable to determine the date of the photo.

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