How To Manipulate Pictures - A Tutorial by Yo's Dad

Fri Nov 28, 2003 11:17 pm

My Fellow Cubbers:

Dennis asked me to put together a little set of instructions to help anyone who may need some help with pictures. I think most everyone already knows how to attach a picture to a message or set a picture as your avatar.

If all you need to do is set the size of your avatar or posted picture using IRFANVIEW, skip down to the header "How to Use IRFANVIEW". Go to line 16 and 17 and do your resizing. If you want to do a little more, then the rest of the list may be useful.


First let’s assume you are taking a picture with a digital camera or you are having your film scanned and put on a CD. Now you have a digital file. What options do you now have and how can you make the most of your picture? Your picture will most like be saved inside the camera or CD as a file with an extension after the name, such as ABC123.jpg. This .jpg extension means that the file has been compressed to make the file size somewhat smaller. The bad thing is that during the compression process, some of the picture data is discarded and lost. Every time you resave that file, it gets compressed more and more and data is lost each time. What can you do to prevent this?

First, if your digital camera has the ability to save the file as a tif, or with a .tif extension after the file name, compression will not happen and no data will be lost. The bad news is that this creates a large file size.

If you have small memory cards in your camera, then you can’t take as many pictures on that card without moving or deleting some of them. This brings us to the basic question of, what resolution and quality settings should I use when taking a picture with my digital camera. Some cameras won’t give you a choice, others will. You must now ask yourself, what do I want to do with the picture I am about to take. If you EVER think that you would want to make a nice print from the picture, then you need to set your camera to its highest resolution setting. Set the save options to .tif if you can. Set the quality to low or medium. For some reason, the quality settings just don’t affect the final print all that much. If you only want to make a picture to display on a computer monitor, none of this matters. The lowest resolution settings, quality and file type will make a nice computer display. Remember, you can now forget about making a nice 8x10 inch print.

For now, we will assume that you want to take your picture in such a manner so you have all future options available. You have taken your masterpiece at the highest resolution, low to medium quality, tif format if possible, jpg if not.

Now transfer that picture to your computer and save it. Now would be a good time to give it a meaningful name, instead of the number assigned by the camera.

Here is the fun part. Dennis would like for avatars to be no larger that about 85 pixels on the long side of the picture. If you make your avatar significantly larger that that, you push all of the text for that thread over to the right and force everyone to use the horizontal scroll bar to read each message. We all want to keep Dennis happy, so we will discuss how to do that in a minute. Dennis would also like for attached pictures, that is, pictures that pop up as part of your message, to also be small enough so that scrolling to the right isn’t necessary. The complete picture pops up quickly, even on a slow dial up connection and everyone can see the whole picture without scrolling. I’m guilty here, so I need to follow this request also.

How do we do that? We need some sort of photo manipulation software. Adobe Photoshop CS is the industry standard (about $600). Adobe Photoshop Elements Version 3 is almost as good and totally effective for anyone not in the publishing business (about $100). PS Elements comes bundled with some scanners, printers and cameras. JASC Paint Shop Pro is also very good, but still costs $$$. Now for the good part. There is a software package that will allow you to adjust the brightness, contrast, gamma, all the colors, adjust the sharpness, crop the image, resize it to fit the message board parameters and save it in a variety of file types, such as tif and jpg. The best part is that it is FREE and a quick download from the internet. Here is how to get it.

Go to and download “Irfanview”. It will come with the latest plugins. If you already have an older version, then download the plugins. Once downloaded follow the instructions, it will install itself, just take all the default settings. It will even make a red icon on your desktop.


Open the file you want to work on. Never make any changes to your original file. Make a copy and do all your work on the copy. If you mess up, just close your copy without saving it and open the copy again start all over. The following steps should be done in order to ensure the best final result. Skip any step that is not necessary.

1. Open the copy
2. Set the files to display thumbnails (little pictures) on the open window
3. Check the box “preview active box”. This gives a preview of the picture
4. Do a ‘file save as’
5. Rename the file if you want and then save it as a file type (tif) if not already a tif
6. Now highlight the file and click open, or double click on the file name
7. Use the + or – tools at the top to make the picture the size you want (these plus and minus tools only effect what you see on your screen, not the actual file size
8. From the menu bar, select Image/Rotate, right or left or whatever if needed
9. Now back to Image/Enhance colors and adjust the brightness, contrast and gamma. As you move the sliders, you see the result. This window will also allow you to then adjust the color (note, your monitor needs to be accurately set for color and brightness before you adjust these picture parameters, or you may be messing up a good picture. I will discuss setting your monitor at the end. After adjusting whatever you want, click Apply and OK.
10. Now is a good time to save what you have. Because you have saved the file as a tif, you don’t cause any damage when saving. Save and stop anytime you want and then come back and do more later if you want.
11. If you want to experiment, go to Image/ Effects and do whatever you want (optional)
12. Now go to Image/Sharpen. Each time you click on Image/ Sharpen, the picture gets a little sharper. You can see the affect each time. Be careful, you can sharpen too much. If you go too far, you can click on Edit/Undo and go back one step.
13. If you don’t need all of the picture or there is something near the edge you don’t like, or you just want a section of the picture, then you need to crop it. Do this by drawing a box around whatever you want to keep with your mouse. Just hold down the left key and make your box. You can stretch the sides wherever you want after you let go.
14. When the box is where you want it, go to Edit/Crop Selection
15. Now save the new cropped selection as a new file, with a new name and as a tif.
16. The last thing you need to do is size the image for the intended purpose. If you are making your avatar, then go to Image/Resize/Resample. Put a check in the box that says “Preserve Aspect Ratio”. Set the size to about 85 pixels for the long side of the picture. The short side will be set automatically, such as 85x65 pixels. Save the picture and put your dimensions in the file name such as: redcub85x65.tif. Now save it again with the same name, but change the file type to jpg. This is the file that you will use as your avatar.
17. For pictures that you want to attach to a message, do the same as above, but set the long side of the picture to about 800 pixels. Save as a tif, and also as a jpg. Use the jpg version for attaching to your message. The resulting file should be no larger than 35 to 50 KB in size. For a computer monitor, this is all you need.

To set your monitor brightness and contrast, do the following. If you can, set your color temperature to about 6500 degrees K. If your monitor doesn't have color temperature adjustment, then don’t worry about it.

Now with a picture on the screen, turn your brightness and contrast all the way down till you don’t have any picture at all….totally black. Now turn your contrast up all the way to 100 percent. Now turn up your brightness till you like the look of the picture. You are now very close to optimum bright/contrast settings. Now go to the following site and fine tune your brightness and contrast till you see all the shade differences in the black and white bar. Other than using an electronic monitor adjustor, this is about all you can do. I surely hope this has been valuable. If anyone has any questions or has trouble, just email me and well work it out.
YD, Grover and Ole Malley
‘Keepers of the Flame’
Last edited by Dennis on Mon Dec 22, 2003 8:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sat Nov 29, 2003 6:16 am

This is great info. for 99% of you folks with P.Cs. but its of little use to those low-lifers like me with Web-Tv. I have found only 1 site that I can post pictures directly from my digital camera to the Forum {Like in e-mail} which automatically provides a URL for the picture to view in the jpeg form. So now when I wish to show a picture/s here or anywhere else I use the URL provided by the other Forum and paste it here.

I also have to give special thanks to Y.D. for providing my Avatar Pic. (Thanks Y.D.)

Sat Nov 29, 2003 9:49 am

I appreciate the information very much, but you may as well tried to tell me how to fly to the moon. It did get me to thinking though. How did everyone in this world get so much smarter than me? When did everything pass me by? What was I doing when I got passed by? Was I in a coma for a few years and didn't know it? How am I able to drive a tractor and even work on it a little? Can I walk and chew gum at the same time? One day is something going to snap and I will know something? Why am I so ignorant and nobody else is? :cry:

Sat Nov 29, 2003 10:17 am

Merlin; Don't feel like the Lone Ranger I to wonder what happened on my aptitude test in 1954 I scored in the upper 75 percent of seniors for that year, now I would be in the bottom 25% Oh well it is almost over anyway.

Sat Nov 29, 2003 2:16 pm

A computer is like a piano. You can not bring one home and wish you knew how to use it. No one can show you how to do much with it. It takes lots of practice and doing it wrong then when you do it right trying to remember how you did it. I use the internet to search for computer info. Just like you would tractor info. There are lots of computer message boards with folks who will give advice. I got my PC in 1997 and only knew you had to plug it in and set it on a table. I have 3 networked mine the wife's and one in the shop. all on dsl. And I ordered the parts over the internet and built them all. Pretty good for old 65 year old. So just keep trying it want blow up. Get you a program called Go Back. Then when you mess up and cannot go any further you just reboot and hit the space bar and choose to go back in time before you messed it up. Works great!!! Norton System works is another good program to repair software problems.

post a picture

Sat Nov 29, 2003 6:06 pm

just ditto to whatever Merlin said. tom

Sat Nov 29, 2003 7:03 pm

Merlin; Boy I thought I was the only one out here in that slow boat :( I am going to keep on experimenting until I figure it all out. The one thing that gets me tho is computers were to make things simpler and faster,then why can't this picture thing be a little simpler. Dumb question on this windows XP do I have all I need to do any of this :?: CHUCK

Sat Nov 29, 2003 7:37 pm

I have XP and one of the things he said was, set the files to display thumbnails. Can't figure that one out. Then check the box preview active box. Check the preview active box? I think I'll just practice turning my computer on and off a few more times first. Learn one thing at a time.

Sat Nov 29, 2003 7:59 pm


I'm really sorry if I have made this thing more complicated than necessary. I was only trying to suggest some options regarding fixing up pictures a little bit.

When I said put a check in the box and set it to show thumbnails, I was talking about the choices in the 'file open' window of IRFANVIEW, not windows XP. For any question that you may have, if you will send me an email I'll do my best to assist you.
Last edited by Yo's Dad on Sat Nov 29, 2003 9:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Sat Nov 29, 2003 8:08 pm

I know you would help if you could Yo's Dad, but you would have to be sitting at my computer with me and have plenty of free time and patience. I think in time I can take your very well written instructions and learn something about pictures. I have IrfanView downloaded now, so I am that far. Thats what I have been hoping someone would do, write instructions like yours. Thanks.

Sat Nov 29, 2003 8:18 pm

The first thing you need to post pictures is a server to put them on are a place to host them. What does this mean? They have to be sent off into cyber space and put on another computer called a server. Like the place Rudi puts all the Cub info. Some one gives that space I believe for nothing and it would be expensive to buy. Same as Dennis providing the cyber space for this Cub board. Your internet service provider should give you at least 5meg. of space. Mine gives 20meg. Up from 5meg. since most people don't claim there space. Then you need a software program called WS_FTP Pro which is what I use to send pictures from your computer to the server's web space. You need a buddy to set it up and show you how to do it. Then it is as easy as falling off a log. Surely there is some one you know who will do it. Ask around while they are all coming in during the holidays. Here is Yo Dads web space
Here is Yo Dads picture page are Home Page
G Willer's web space
G Willer again
Then you go to your space pick a picture and copy the http part in the Address box up at the top and paste it into your post. Again you need someone to show you. I don't think anyone could explain it so someone could do it. But have some one show you it fun. Now the Red Power web site provides web space to put your pictures on for posting on the Red Power message board. We just cannot afford to ask Dennis to do that. But it sure would be easier for us to post pictures. Ever notice how many pictures are posted on the Red Power site. That takes even more bandwidth and $$$$$$

Sat Nov 29, 2003 8:27 pm

Right now I have a lot of mine on HP Photo. I don't know if my ISP gives any space or not. I'm going to check.

Sat Nov 29, 2003 8:42 pm

Just checking to see if Picture Trail will let me post my picture from them on the board. I have the Picture Trail that cost $19.95 per year. I don't think the free one will let you. It super easy to use and you can use it for your EBay pictures to.

Sat Nov 29, 2003 8:57 pm

Jim, the free picturetrail allowed posting of photos. But I liked the features gained by purchasing space. I've even upgraded mine to the next level because I found myself storing tons of pictures.

Sat Nov 29, 2003 9:01 pm

Glad you told me that. They automatically renewed mine last time and I did not want to renew since I have free web space now. Wonder how you cancel your account? I sent them a e-mail to cancel but got no response.