Skip to content or view screen version

Indymedia Photography Skill Share Workshop

ben | 02.12.2006 14:01 | Education | Indymedia | Technology | London

It's been suggested, and seems like a good idea, that some training is given on croping and resizing photos for uploading on the web. There has also been an idea knocking around in some peoples heads for a while to do a skill sharing session of some kind on digital photography in general.

Digital cameras have got better in leaps and bounds and the increase in resulting file size on these multiple mega pixel cameras is astounding. It's not uncommon to find stupidly large images upload on the newswire and this is a drag for everyone involved - those who takes ages getting them uploaded, the people waiting patiently to view them on slow connections, and the admin who end up having to resize and reupload them.

It's not hard to resize photos for the web but if you are not particularly computer literate you might need a helping hand figuring out what resolution is best etc. You might also benefit from learning how to crop a photo for better composition (something which these multiple mega pixel photos really lend themselves to when being resized anyway). An essential skill for indymedia photographers is how to obscure faces. Additionally, it would probably also be useful to look at the different file formats and the types of compression to choose from for uploading.

As well as these computer related skills, there is huge scope for sharing knowledge and experience in relation to getting the best from digital cameras - use of natual light, flash, fast exposures for action photography etc. How to focus on something not in the centre of your shot, how to shoot something that is backlight so that you don't end up with just a silhouette, how to take pictures in low light conditions etc.

Along with all the pracitical 'hands on' stuff, it would also be consructive to discuss things such as how to best present photographic material on indymedia, what to shoot and what not to shoot, what other sites are worth uploading to, the pros and cons of flickr etc. Other issues that might come up include licensing and selling images etc.

So, if any of this interests you (and it should if you ever upload photos to indymedia), and you are based in London or up for travelling in, then please get in touch. If enough people express and interest, I'll organise a date for a skill sharing sworkshop at the rampART, probably split into two distinct sections, one on taking pictures and the other on computer manipulation of those photos and uploading.

So let ue know, contact rampart AT mutualaid DOT org

- e-mail: rampart at mutualaid dot org
- Homepage:


What is wong with writing the resize code for the server?

02.12.2006 20:01

Most 'Content Management Systems' have a resize feature so whatever is uploaded gets resized into something manageable. Resizing a 7Mb image once took all day on a 486, nowadays it is a snip, barely causing any bother at all to a 'Pentium V'. The general process is that the uploaded image gets pushed through 'imagemagick' with command line options, e.g. '-resize' and then saved with or without the hi-res original. In this way the reader gets the option to see the big picture f they want to.
The benefit of such an approach is that all images can be made to conform to size - not just the images of the educated few.
Also helpful could be a couple of tips on the website - one to let people know that their work will be resized and another to let them know how to do the resizing themselves - or not, depending on their needs.

Otherwise a very sound idea. Maybe the workshop could be tied in to an actual event or a to-be-decided feature. In this way practice and help can be with taking pictures, not mangling them. Getting the right picture in the first place helps.

For such a workshop to happen there need be no need to wait for an event. 'Indymedia' could do with a collection of pictures of all the important government institutions, maybe for other writers to link to and for readers to refer to. A library of royalty free imagery could be built up - 'Houses of Parliament', the spooks palaces, the royal palaces, the corporate headquarters, the embassies, the squares, whatever. This would also be a historical record of London now - in the post-car world today's traffic will seem unimaginable and today's pictures would fascinate.

Taking pictures is easy, getting results takes education and practice. In the context of a workshop there is scope for learning how to pluck up the courage to get the right pictures, better composition and operating quickly.

Maybe the next Critical Mass ride could be part one - acquisition. Bikes are the best way to get to where is needed, and bike-camera skills could be learned in the car free bike traffic. Critical Mass usully gets all the postcard sites.

See you there, or...?


Where? Like it says in the article... London

03.12.2006 20:07

"...if any of this interests you, and you are based in London or up for travelling in, then please get in touch. If enough people express and interest, I'll organise a date for a skill sharing sworkshop at the rampART..."

I've had three people email to express and interest so far.

If you are interested, please email rather than say so in a comment on here.

One of those contacting me to express interest has previously done a workshop on direct action photographer at the climate camp and writes, "How to take better pics in the first place and how to process/edit/enhance pics on the computer afterwards should, I hope be separate workshops. I'd be well up
for doing a workshop on either/both of these having already done much of the
prep for something similar".

"Over the last year or so I've downloaded a large library of examples of good and bad photos. Indymedia is a very rich source of both of these! Such examples can be very useful for demonstrating how pics of even quite dull actions can, with a little more thought to composition, angle, framing etc be turned into much more interesting pics."

As for why resizing isn't done at the server by indymedia... it could be (and shortly will be since the code has been written). However, even when the server can resize for you, it's still a bad idea to let it as you'd still be uploading very large files for no reason. Better to crop and resize yourself if possible to avoid wasting time uploading and to get more control on the end result.

Having said that, there are situations when you don't have the luxury of having software available to work on images before uploading, such as when using an internet cafe. In these situations (at least until the indymedia resizing code is in place), you can use free online resizing tools - some even allow cropping.

Here are a couple you might want to try...

A good size for indymedia image uploads is 600 pixels wide with a max height of perhaps 400.

.jpg is the obvious first choice for file format with compress set at about 7 (70%) for a good compromise between file size an quality.

It's always good to provide an email address with any uploaded photos so that people can can contact you for high res copies or enquire about other images you might have captured around the same time.

Anyway, plenty of stuff to cover at a workshop... probably on a sunday, at the rampART in London.
We'll make notes and make them available for others to read or incorporate into other workshops.



Display the following comment

  1. Where? — Pippa