About the Gretsch Pages

About Photo Handling on the GDP


Being a thread...

• prompted by doing coverage for the Homecoming Roundup
• offered as thoughtful reading for those who might consider bypassing the GDP's photo management for external hosting
• contemplating the implications of doing so
• suggesting reasonable guidelines for same
• proposing modest revisions to the GDP photo-upload protocol which would reduce the temptation to link externally
• opening a discussion on above bulletpoints.

While I occasionally whine at seeming limitations in photo handling on the GDP, as I see it Bax does things as he does here for good reasons.

One showed itself in Snorre's posting yesterday: when we link to a long list of externally-hosted images in a single post, page-load time can take a real hit, especially if they're very high resolution. I was a serial offender in this regard from 2007 to 2011 (or so) when I was doing a lot of event coverage, before Bax built the event-coverage section. I'd routinely link to excessive multiples of images in a post. (I did try to respectfully size them.)

Relatedly, page-load time is partially dependent on how many TOTAL images are on a page. Forum pages here consist of exactly 25 posts. Bax's current limitation to ONE image per post (I wish he'd allow maybe 3-5) does make sense: it means that, if we follow the rules, there can't be more than 25 images on any one page. That keeps load-n-scroll reasonable for users on mobile devices as well as laptops/desktops.

It follows that if we go around the rules and link to gobs of external photos in each of the 25 posts, a page could have hundreds of images, and be unwieldy on any device (especially before being cached in the browser). Even if Bax compromised with us and allowed 3-5 images through this interface, we'd potentially triple-quadruple-quintificate the load.

Also to keep load time quick, Bax's interface automatically resizes images uploaded to the GDP to different sizes to be served to different devices - but they're all pretty compact. (I think 450 pix wide on my 15" laptop.) I'd like to see that bumped up a bit, but I'm not an experienced webmaster.

Anyway, point is: both image size and image count matter.

From my conversation with Col Baxter last night, he's apparently not going to forbid us from linking to external images. That's good, because it's often better for my sense of "storytelling" to group related photos with a particular chunk of text. I'll take advantage of that. But if we're going to do that, we should be thoughtful and moderate.

Any resolution greater than 1200 pix horizontal is utterly wasted for screen viewing. Unless the image occupies the ENTIRE screen, we don't have enough available pixels on our devices to see that big an image anyway - so the GDP shrinks the view to fit the space. We never SEE the higher res. Thus the only impact of higher resolutions is to slow us down. (Higher res is, of course, relevant for print.)

So I'm going to adopt a rule of thumb for my own linked image postings: absolutely no more than 1200 pixels horizontal (and usually 800). And I'll try to avoid putting more than 5 images in any one post.

And I'll suggest that anyone linking in from a 3rd-party hosting site be aware of the responsibility to size images appropriately. I think most users are (if they've linked from external sites in the past) - but new photo-linkers should also be.

Another reason for Bax's system - where images upload directly to the GDP - is to keep all GDP content ON the GDP's server. That gives the GDP a little control over its own destiny. We all see that when PhotoPukit went premium a view months ago, images disappeared from all over the internet, gutting the content of countless forum posts which are now much less useful than they were. Easy to see how that reduces the documentary and historical value of the site.

I've always maintained my own hosting for photos (I didn't know any better when I started doing it), and so far I've kept those links live from 2008 onward, even when I moved hosting. It's a responsibility I think about every time I'm researching or exploring something online and come to forum posts or pages from the past and resources are missing, going to 404 pages or "sorry, image missing" or other such dead links. I figure if it was important enough for me to PUBLISH on a public medium to begin with, it's important enough to keep there.

(How far does this responsibility extend? Must my heirs keep paying my hosting? When my hosting provider goes out of business, what happens? Who's backing up and archiving the internet, and keeping all links updated? This is a phenomenal medium we have, and could be technically and historically foundational far into the future - but its actual content is maddeningly perishable. I know smarter and more knowledgeable people than me are working on these questions. I hope they figure out how to keep a permanent record.)

So, aside from philosophical considerations of our duty to posterity (or our selfish desire to sign the earthly guest book in permanent ink), there are costs in time to our linking in from an external site. At minimum we have to transfer our photos to that site, then get the linking code and paste it in here. To be good citizens, we also have to resize responsibly before we upload - whether with an online tool as Ric12String suggested in the Homecoming thread, with tools provided by the image host, or with tools on our own computers. (I make copies of my high-res originals, then batch-resize them in the Preview app on the Mac - but there are surely hundreds of ways to do this.)

These extra steps all take time and add complication - so I always have to evaluate whether it's worth it for the task at hand.

While I'm at it, a few words about photo prep. We aren't all trained photographers (I'm far from it), but we can all learn to pay more attention to our photos before we post them. Again, it takes time - but many photos could benefit from better "framing" in the camera to begin with, some attention to overall quality (exposure, focus, clarity, contrast), and cropping to guide the eye to what the photographer considers important in the image.

Most modern cameras, under most conditions, make easy work of focus and overall image quality. Blur is still a problem in action shots or when trying to avoid using flash, and too-dark images get grainy. We ought not to post images that fail these tests - except in cases where we think the content is that important, and we have no better image.

Most of my time in photo prep is spent on (in roughly descending order of importance to viewers): weeding out the obviously bad shots; deciding on the best of several alternate shots of the same scene; then cropping the good ones to what's important; then tweaking any technical image issues (brightness, contrast, sharpness). I rarely apply filters, but that's because in my perception reality is already all the trip I can handle.

The last thing I do before uploading is resize (so that I'm not cropping after a resize, and thus reducing either the size or the quality of the image).

The point here is that we ought all to have graduated from the random thoughtless snapshot school, and should give some attention to material we publish.

I'm ALWAYS open to suggestions or handy tips for taking better pictures, and a better workflow to get them online.

IF the GDP created larger images from our uploads (say up to 800px wide, or, ambitiously, 1200) and if we had the option of having more images per post, perhaps with a dedicated caption field for each, I don't think I'd ever feel tempted to go to outside linked hosting. (We can argugotiate over exact count of permissible multiples.)

Assuming the hosting could handle the load, and page times weren't severely impacted (I doubt these options would be abused), it would be the best of all possible GDP-image worlds: still self-contained, but bigger and more immersive images, more flexibility in "story-telling."


Drives me crazy when there's a post with a lot of text or photos and then someone else does a reply saying 'nice job' and includes (quotes) the post with all the text or photos. There's no reason to fully quote a long post. It just means everyone will have to scroll down to the 'nice job' reply. Notice that Bob is very smart and did NOT quote the long post he agreed with......


Apropos the discussion raised by Beatbyrd about not copying long pieces of copy by using the "quote" feature, there is, of course, another way to skin that cat if there is something small that the person feels is germane to their own subsequent post. That is, the second poster can still quote, but limit it to the line or lines that are important.

For example, let's use an excerpt from Beatbyrd's post. Specifically, let's assume that we wanted to quote the line, "Notice that Bob is very smart", which does have a very nice ring to it, I agree. That statement can be set up just like the quote feature by taking these steps:

  • Copy the words, "Notice that Bob is very smart" from Beatbyrd's post.

  • Type the symbol ">" in the posting box.

  • Paste the quote into the posting box right next to the ">" symbol.

  • So that others know to whom to attribute that quote, type the original poster's name after the quoted statement as follows: -- Beatbyrd (Note that you have to put an asterisk on the front and back of the name in order for it to be in italics. You could also use the handy little italic button at the top of the posting box for this.)

When those steps are taken, it looks like this:

Notice that Bob is very smart -- Beatbyrd


I just checked my code, and apparently I don't knock image sizes back before I save them on upload. So until I fix that, if you all could maybe not upload super large images, that would be great.

Once they are uploaded, I have the original available, plus an array of resized versions ranging from 940 px down to 60px.

If you right-click on an uploaded image and open it in a new tab, you'll see a filename something like foo.jpg.480x480.jpg, or something like that. Remove everything after the first .jpg and you'll have the original file.


Prote, my friend, you so obviously work in newspapers by the way you framed that whole post

All good stuff though.


Once they are uploaded, I have the original available, plus an array of resized versions ranging from 940 px down to 60px.— Bax

Dang, that must eat your storage for breakfast!


I had no idea that we could upload our photos directly again. The feature was stopped some time ago and external hosting was the only functional alternative.

Now it's back?

Am I understanding this correctly?

Edit- I am understanding this correctly. Just uploaded a photo. Thank you Baxter for bringing this feature back.


Love this stream and ALL Y'All's ideas. Since I have so many photos to upload, have we a consensus WHERE we wish them posted? In the stream "Coming Home to the 10th Annual Nashville Roundup?" Or, is there some "Happenings" spot in which we need to preserve everything for posterity, as was Bax's first plea some time ago?


Once they are uploaded, I have the original available, plus an array of resized versions ranging from 940 px down to 60px.— Bax

Dang, that must eat your storage for breakfast!

– Deke Martin

It does, which is why I routinely knock them back to 1200px max everywhere else on the site. But for some reason, I don't on the forum. Which is dumb, and the reason every so often we run out of space and things stop working.


you so obviously work in newspapers by the way you framed that whole post

Well, po'old newspapers. They've given me considerable experience with the practical and utilitarian side of photography in the digital/online era, as well as opportunity to meditate on posterity.

In that regard, here on the GDP I violate what I preach at every newspaper I visit: that we should ALWAYS INCLUDE METADATA in photos we intend to keep/upload to the Mass Repository of Human Civilization (ie, the Internet). I suggest at least a caption with the date (including year) and name of the pictured event, along with any names or important information you'd like preserved - and ideally a photo credit as well. Those should be on every photo, even if it seems repetitious. (There are tools to add it in batches.)

As Bax has pointed out to me numerous times, we who put images online have virtually no control over how they're used. The pictures we're posting here today are surrounded by context, hopefully with names in adjacent text or captions. But anyone seeing the page can send that photo off ANYwhere - Farcebook, Instagram, other forums. Without the metadata, the photo now has no context whatever.

We're making the digital equivalents of the box of family photos you find in Grandma's attic, full of people you know must be relatives. You turn the photos over, and there's no elegant, spidery, faded writing on the back. You might be able to tell when they were taken (some labs used to put month and date around the border, and maybe you know fashion, furnishing, decor, architectural or automotive history well enough to read the cues). You might know where.

But if you don't know whom, you don't know jack.

What were family pictures are now generic. They evoke an era, but not how you're connected to it. They might as well be stock photography. Sell 'em to Cracker Barrel at a buck a pound for them to put up as atmosphere.

I make a resolution now to populate the metadata in my photos.

Anyway, yeah. Now that few newspapers have professional photographers, reporters need a bit of practical training in handling photos. I'm not very good at that training (nor do reporters have attention spans), but when there are teachable moments, I take them. (It usually involves images that went in the paper or up online in ludicrously inappropriate condition - or prevented upload entirely.)

I have a newspaper to visit now.


But anyone seeing the page can send that photo off ANYwhere - Farcebook, Instagram, other forums. Without the metadata, the photo now has no context whatever.

How many people have seen the pick of your cadillac with the Gretsches, and in how many contexts? I know I see it quite often.


I make a resolution now to populate the metadata in my photos. -- Proteus

And for one of those teachable moments right here, right now, just how do you intend to accomplish that?


Proty, you're going to have to invest some serious teaching in my direction to have me know how I "add" what I thought was "in" my photos already, the metadata.


I always thought I was doing Baxter a favor by not sticking him with the chore of storing my pictures, only a link to where I have them stored on my web server. I also figured 1024 was a reasonable width, but if 800 is better for page loading, I'll downsize from now on.


Giffenf, you're fine. 1024 is fine. No worries.


Wait, wait, hold it...you uploaded a photo from where I ask? Not from a third party bucketbox or wherever? Since when and how?


I’m trying this right now. I feel like I’m in some kind of time/space continuum all by my self. When did that happen? It’s awesome, and thank you Bax.


I’m trying this right now. I feel like I’m in some kind of time/space continuum all by my self. When did that happen? It’s awesome, and thank you Bax.

– Deed Eddy

Was that photo from NCIS New Orleans 9/26/17...? A certain Parrothead that I've never seen playing a Gretsch... until yesterday..????


I must say that I do not understand this. We have always been able to post photographs posted at third-party locations such as Photobucket, Imgur, etc. The problem has been that Photobucket took steps to prevent that from occurring unless you were somehow a premium user of their site (you paid them money). It was not the GDP's Issue; rather, it was the issue of Photobucket.

Or am I missing something here?


If server space is an issue, then my suggestion stops right here.

I however, would like to see an auto shrink on the site, to a standard size. say 800 or so.

Then I'd like to be able to click a pic and get a bigger popup. Most pictures are too small in my opinion. I like them BIG.


Quotes would be nice in facebook style. Hanging with an indent from the mother post. No repeat of the text.


Quotes would be nice in facebook style. Hanging with an indent from the mother post. No repeat of the text.

– Geoff_Vane

You said "Facebook." Uh oh.

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