How do I get digital images?
Digital cameras, photofinisher scanning, and personal scanning.
Page "digitalimages" last modified: 6Jul99

Images must be in a computer file in an appropriate format
Images that are displayed on web pages must be in a bitmapped image format -- that is, they must be made up of many pixels (colored dots). Common formats are GIF, JPEG (also known as JPG), BMP, and TIFF. These files are stored in the computer with file extensions such as ".gif", ".jpg", and ".bmp". (The differences you need to know about the two most important to the web, GIF and JPG, are explained later in GIF vs. JPEG.)

Once you have a file with an image, adding it to a page is usually no more difficult than using an "Insert / Image in text" command.

How do I turn my pictures into computer image files?
Many images that you will want in your album or journal will not start out as computer files. They more likely will be photographs or something 3-dimensional like a building.

Existing images
To turn photographs or drawings into computer image files, you use a device called a scanner. A scanner is connected to a computer and works like a copier or fax machine, with the result being a file on the computer. Scanners cost about $70-$400. For most web site purposes, you do not need an expensive scanner. Almost any color scanner will suffice. Higher quality is not needed, since you will just be displaying a computer screen, not phototypesetting.

If you do not want to purchase a scanner, you can get pictures scanned in many other ways:

   You can ask a friend if you can use their scanner. It only takes a few minutes for each picture.
   You can have the scanning done at a business services facility, like Kinkos.
   Many photofinishing services will scan from prints or negatives.

New images
If you do not already have the photographs you need, you have several options:

   You can take photographs with a normal film camera, get the prints, and then proceed to get the photographs scanned.
   You can take photographs with a digital camera. The result, once transferred to your computer, will be ready to be used. Like the scanner, you will most likely not need high-resolution images, so most any digital camera will suffice. Digital cameras cost about $300-$900.
   You can take photographs with a normal film camera, and have the photofinisher scan the images instead of, or in addition to, producing prints. Many labs, including Kodak and mail-order places like Mystic Color Lab, have this service. The extra cost is sometimes as little as a few dollars. There are often a few options: floppy disk (JPG format images), PictureCD (JPG images), and PhotoCD (special Kodak format). For our purposes, JPG images are probably most convenient, and the CD lets you hold lots of them at a high resolution, so we recommend PictureCD or equivalent. PhotoCD, an older Kodak format now mainly used by some professionals, may give better quality for producing final prints on paper, but may not be as convenient for making an on-line journal where you don't need the resolution and not all image software support it.

Clip art and other ready-made images
Some images you may use, especially to add extra "color" to your journals, may start out as computer image files; for example, those created with a draw or paint program. You may not even need to create them yourself. There are many collections of images available. Some come with your presentation graphics or draw programs. Others are available on the Web. (To use an image you are viewing in a browser, right click on the image with the mouse and select "Save Picture As" or "Save Image As".)

In all cases, check whether or not you have rights to show the image on your web site. (When in doubt, assume you do not.)

Getting the images ready
In all cases, you may want to modify the images, such as to adjust the brightness or contrast, to crop them, or to scale them. Scanners and digital cameras usually come bundled with software to help you do these modifications. Sometimes the software you use to create your web site will have these features.

Remember, often images will end up just a few inches square, at most, on the computer screen in your photo journal: that is just 300 by 300 pixels, at about 72 dots per inch (DPI). Having a 1280 by 1280 image from an expensive digital camera will be of little benefit over the 640 by 480 image of an inexpensive one unless you are doing extensive cropping. See Digital Cameras.