Do you own the images you want to display? If not, don't use them until you have obtained permission from the owner. Copyright on the WWW is going to be a big issue over the next few years.

The best source of images you own will be photos taken by your association over the last few years. If images such as cartoons have been commissioned for your association, for use in paper publications, it might be necessary to speak to the artist to confirm that your rights to the artwork allow reproduction on the WWW.

Many software outlets sell themed CDs of copyright-free images which can be used in publications, and there are also a number of websites which house collections of copright-freee images.

Digital Cameras

There is a plethora of cameras on the market now, ranging in price from around $350 to $30,000. The sort of camera you might like to consider for taking shots to add to a website would be at the low end of the range, and will take photos with resolutions from 640 X 480 up to about 1100 X 800 pixels. Many early digital cameras were able to store images at 320 X 240 pixels. At this size a camera could save up to four times the number of images that could be stored at 640 X 480, but as the cost of flashcards have rapidly reduced over the past couple of years this format has grown increasingly uncommon. Ideally, images should be taken at the highest possible resolution, and then manipulated on a computer, which has much more computational power than the digital camera, and can reduce the size of a file without seriously compromising image quality.

Bear in mind that the best digital still camera under $2000 will not produce an image as good as that produced by a disposable 35 mm camera. This is because 35 mm film stores an image in an emulsion, allowing it to be enlarge dramatically before the image becomes very "grainy". Digital cameras store images as a finite number of pixels, so if the image is enlarged, the information about the image has to be extrapolated from that set number of pixels, resulting in very blurry or pixelated images. For the WWW this isn't a real problem, as the resolution and the size that most images are used on the WWW are such that the deficiencies of digital cameras aren't quite as apparent.

The real benefit of a digital camera is that the images area available instantly, without the cost and time spent waiting for negatives and prints to come back from a film processor. The number of images I used in paper based publishing projects and added to websites went up considerably when I bought a digital camera. If the digital camera you wish to buy doesn't come with an external power supply, buy one! Transferring files from the camera to your computer quickly exhausts batteries, so external power is essential. Also consider buying at least two sets of rechargeable battteries and a charger for them.

Digital cameras are available at most camera stores, as well as computer equipment outlets. Michaels Cameras, in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, has a wide selection, and their specialist staff offer expert advice. Michaels run a series of free seminars on digital cameras and scanners throughout the year, and are well worth attending.

Genius, also in Elizabeth Street, Melbourne, also has a range of digital cameras, and while their staff may not be able to spend as much time with you, Genius' prices are often cheaper than elsewhere.

Laserbaud also offers a range of cameras. They are a mail order business, and their catalog is full of goodies and the sorts of things that "propellor-heads" drool over. They also have their catalog online at


Consider buying a scanner before purchasing a digital camera. A good scanner can be purchased for less than $500 and will probably be of much more use in the day to day running of the association. Many scanners come with Optical Character Recognition software. With this software, text from a book, sheet of paper, and so on, can be scanned into the computer as an image and then the OCR software will convert the image into text. This allows for large amounts of text from paper sources to be converted to a text document without having to retype it. Whilst the software doesn't have quite 100% accuracy, many of the packages are getting very close to it.

Scanned images of photos taken with a 35 mm camera will usually be of a much higher quality than images taken with a digital camera. This particularly applies to photos where a flash has been used over a distance of more than a couple of metres. Flashes in many digital cameras are very poor.

Purchasing a scanner will allow you to use photos and other images that have been archived by your association. Images can be scanned into a computer at much higher resolutions than a digital camera is capable of. This will allow image manipulation to.17 be more precise and, when reduced in size to what is appropriate for the WWW, will give a much better finished product than that obtained with a digital camera. Most scanners will come with some image manipulation software, typically a light version of Photoshop or something similar, which will also control the scanner for you.

Scanners are described in terms of their resolution. 300 dpi is quite adequate, but 600 dpi would be better. With software interpolation the resolution can be increased to in excess of 1000 dpi. Keep in mind that an image the size of a conventional photo scannned at 600 dpi will be around 40 MB, so you really only need a very high resolution scanner if you have a computer with large amounts of RAM. Generally 16 MB is considered a minimum. 32 MB or higher would be preferable.

Try to purchase a "single pass" scanner. Older equipment scanned red, green and blue parts of an image separately, so it took three passes to scan the image. Newer scanners can do it all in one pass, making scanning faster and more accurate. Scanners can connnect to a computer through a SCSI (small computer systems interface) port, or through thee parallel port (the port often used for printers on PCs). If you want to use a scanner from many different pieces of software (for example, from within Microsoft Publisher), you will need to purchase a TWAIN ("toolkit without an interesting name") compliant scanner. For a PC this will mean adding a SCSI card in your PC, if there isn't already one installed. This is a relatively trouble- free procedure. SCSI scanners are generally faster than their parallel equivalents. When scanning images, it is better to scan at a fairly high resolution and then reduce the image size and resolution once all the enhancing has been carried out. 300 DPI is an appropriate setting to use for scanning photos and newspaper images or text. As a general rule, resolution of images for the WWW should end up as 72 DPI. Macintosh computers display at 72 DPI and PCs display at 96 DPI, so there is no point going beyond this sort of resolution for the WWW.

Other Image Capture Devices

Another option is to use a capture device which can take images from any video source. A capture device such as the "Snappy" will allow you to make images at higher resolutions than most digital still cameras, for under $300. 60 minutes of video tape can be used to capture many hundreds of short clips of people at a conference, meeting, etc. The Snappy capture device can then take a frame from each of the segments and convert it into a full colour, high resolution digital still photo. Capture cards, such as the Miro DC10, can also be fitted into a free slot in the back of a PC. While it can be used to capture stills, it is intended for capturing video to a hard drive. These files can be edited and exported to videotape, or converted to streaming video which will play across the WWW, using some free software from Real Networks.

Digital Video cameras, such as the Panasonic DS1 and DS5 can use an optional piece of software to export stills to a PC, without the need for a video capture board.

Image Software

For general work, the software which comes with the scanner or camera will be fine. Other cheap, good graphics software which is commonly used is Paint Shop Pro (on PCs) and Graphic Converter (on Macs). If you are planning on doing a lot of work with images, do consider buying a full version of Photoshop - it has more than enough features to keep a graphic artist happy.

Image Formats

There are three image formats commonly used on the WWW - JPG, GIF, and the new PNG format. Most packages will be able to create JPG and GIF formats, and many of the older browsers still commonly being used cannot display PNG files.

JPG is the format of choice when the image is a photo. Stored as an RGB image, this format compresses the file in a very "lossy" manner, but because of the way the compression is carried out, photos display exceptionally well.

The GIF format gives crisper images, though the file size will be somewhat larger. It is ideal for line drawings and cartoons, as well as photos where fine detail is crucial. Images can only be stored as GIFs if they have been "indexed", reduced to 256 or fewer colours. Depending on the number of colours, the file size can larger than a JPG because of the way the image is compressed - much more of the detail is kept in the GIF format. If you want to create images where the background is transparent then the GIF format is the one to use.

General Points

Images used in your websites should each be less than 30k. Ideally they should be much less than this.

Think about why the images are being used, and why your website is being created. Usually you will be trying to communicate a specific piece of information. Users of the WWW have very short attention spans. If the page hasn't loaded in less than thirty seconds they tend to stop the download and go elsewhere. If your page contains lots of images it may exceed 100k, and would take a long time to display.

If you need to use lots of images, think about using "thumbnails" or small images in the page, linked to larger versions of the image which users can look it if they want to see more detail.

When images are used, an <alt> tag should be included, to describe the image for users who are not loading images.

Optimising images that have been scanned or taken with a digital camera

Cleaning up an image and minimizing the size of the file is referred to as optimising. The smaller the file, the faster it will load across the WWW. While some of the following applies specifically to Photoshop, the general principles will apply to any graphics package.

Use Photoshop to open the image you wish to optimise.

  • Ensure that the image is being displayed in RGB Mode (check in Image... Mode...)
  • Select Image... Adjust... Levels...
  • Once in Levels, click on Auto to make the main conversion and then use the sliders to make smaller adjustments to the colour balance.
  • When you are happy with the image click OK.
  • In the Filter menu, select Blur... Gaussian Blur.
  • Set the Radius to 0.5 pixels and click OK
  • In the Filter menu, select Sharpen... Unsharp Mask
  • Set the amount to 150%
  • Radius to 1.5 pixels
  • Threshold to 8 levels
  • click OK

Resizing the image

The image should now be resized, as this will also improve the image quality.

Generally somewhere between a 25% and a 50% reduction in size gives a good result. Bear in mind that the most common screen is still 640 x 480 pixels and that some of this space is used by the browser itself. Try to keep your images to something less than 200 pixels high, and not more than 300 wide.

Resolution should be set to 72 pixels per inch. This is the standard resolution for computer monitors, so there is no point going beyond that.

The file should be saved as a JPG, Medium image Quality (3), with a Standard Baseline Format. This level of compression will give a small file with a good resultant image.

Making parts of an image transparent

If you want an image with a transparent background, don't save it as a JPG. Change the mode to Indexed (change this in Image... Mode...) and then go to File... Export... GIF 89A Export and select the colours you wish to be made transparent. Some packages, such as Claris Home Page and Microsoft FrontPage include utilities to convert images to formats suitable for the WWW and to make some colours transparent in an image.

More detailed information

A good starting point for further information is