Archive for November, 2011|Monthly archive page

Photo Compression When Sending Email

At the November 16, 2011 Computer Interest Group one topic was sending family photos by email. The issue was whether the photos are compressed resulting in lower resolution images causing blurry images when printed. The LinkedIn “Adobe Photoshop Group,” I subscribe to, addressed a similar issue the week before.

As we discussed, the Free Google Picasa photo editing software automatically compresses photos for faster transmission by email and likely so do other photo editing and email programs. The same image compression is intentionally done in Photoshop/Elements when using File > Save for Web & Devices by selecting how much compression is desired. Metadata such as camera settings, gps coordinates, and manually added metadata are also removed by default.

Microsoft Office Outlook does the same thing by default, as do most email programs, so that email transmits as fast as possible. Pressing F1, the function key, opens the Help menu so a search to explain how to do this was found. The screen shot below shows the Microsoft Outlook 2007 email program menus.

  • After an image is loaded into the body of the email
  • Click the photo to make sure it is selected
  • Click the Format tab on the ribbon
  • On the left side in the Adjust group, click Compress Pictures
  • In the Compress Pictures dialog box, Click options to open the Compression Settings dialog box
  • The default settings are shown in the screen shot below, so adjust settings as needed

On Windows computers the monitors only show 96 ppi (pixels per inch) resolution, although most people use the number 72 ppi, which is the monitor resolution of Apple computers. When printing, the number used is 300 dpi (dots per inch) for color photo scans since it takes many tiny dots of ink, 3 for each dot of RGB color (RGB is red, green, blue mixed to produce millions of colors), to produce the same appearance as what a square pixel produces on a computer monitor. This is why scanned images should be a minimum of 300 dpi to produce the same high resolution seen on the computer screen.

The procedure for attaching images and adjusting compression is similar. (The .bmp screen shot image below is lower resolution than the .png image above because the Snipping Tool used above closes the drop menu when I screen shot the monitor, while the old fashion “Prt Scr” paste option used below doesn’t. Figure that one out?)

  1. Create a new e-mail message in Outlook.
  2. On the Insert tab, in the Include group, click Attach File
  3. On the Insert tab, click the Include Dialog Box Launcher Button image.
  4. In the Attachment Options pane, under Picture options, in the Select picture size drop-down list, click the size of the picture you want to include.
  5. Notice the unchecked Check box at the bottom, check it to make the Attachment Options pane appear every time an attachment is made
  6. A screen shot shows the menus below:

If adjusting email resolution is too confusing or menus for your email program can not be found after searching Help, one option is to the convert photos to pdf files and email those as attachments. That is a completely different topic of discussion, techniques, software, etc.

Tombstone Photography – Hallowed Stones

Our November 9, 2011 “Hallowed Stones – Cemetery Restoration” program by Mark Davis – Stone Saver Cemetery Restoration was well attended. Lots of questions were asked during and after Mark Davis’ program. An encore presentation to his January 14, 2009 program when a dozen or so brave souls ignored a winter weather advisory of near zero° wind chills and several inches of blowing and drifting snow. His program emphasizes maintaining and restoring the original tombstone presentation. I have photos from his day long 2005 workshop in Auburn, DeKalb County, Indiana on my personal web site. Mark is now too busy restoring tombstones scheduling 18 months in advance to offer workshops anymore.

Mark mentioned pre-1835 tombstones are likely a tan or gray colored sandstone, a soft easily damaged stone rare in Indiana, although I have seen a few in the oldest parts of older cemeteries. Next came white Italian marble imported from Italy in slabs, often adding a mass produced emblem and then hand sculpted names and dates popular until the late 1800’s. Gray granite tombstones a much harder stone became popular in the late 1800’s.

Marble stones could last 500 years under ideal circumstances, but are soft and easily damaged by lawn mowers, grass trimmers, absorbing chemical salts, and more. Water and soft plastic bristle brushes with hand labor are the safest cleaning techniques. Concrete, silicone rubber, bleach, weed killers, glues, non-stone adhesives, and chemicals can permanently damage and discolor the stone.

Empty square holes held tintype photos, I’ve seen a couple in Indiana and have to wonder who took them. Mark had one photo of an eight year old girl whose tintype was still in the tombstone, another was a 150 year old paper newspaper obituary still intact in a metal tombstone box in Colorado where the very low humidity prevented the paper from rotting as would occur here in our humid Midwest climate.

One series of questions about not damaging tombstones to revel hard to read information using common techniques like chalk rubbings, shaving cream and flour to read the tombstone data caught my attention. If not completely washed off with clean water, some type of permanent damage is possible especially when baked on by the extreme heat of July and August summer droughts.

The recommended non-destructive technique is to document the tombstones by taking photos before any attempts at cleaning or restoration. If you don’t know what you are doing, then hire someone who does. It can cost thousands of dollars to recreate one authentic replica tombstone. There are plenty of websites with information such as Gravestone Study Association and others linked on my 2005 workshop in Auburn, DeKalb County, Indiana web page.

Take Photographs

If the tombstone information is hard to read then take photographs when the angle of the sun creates shadows of the dates and names normally around 2:15 pm on a sunny day depending on the season. I have taken 1,000’s of tombstone photos in dozens, perhaps 100’s of cemeteries around Indiana and Ohio over the past 10 years. I use a digital camera and a tripod, but have seen the negative results of using chalk, shaving cream and worse. Pioneer cemeteries normally do not have running water, and most modern cemeteries no longer provide water for watering live plants since only removable artificial decorations are now recommended.

When possible I make at least 2 visits to a cemetery. The first visit is to take as many photos as possible of all tombstones in the area to later analyze the lay of the cemetery, family relationships, and the quality of the images to reveal all available information. I notice the location of tombstones relative to similar or recognizable names on other tombstones, trees, shrubs, buildings and any thing else that affects the angle of sunlight.

Sunny tombstone photo

4:07 pm CDT

Shadow tombstone photo

12:48 pm CDT

As shown in the photos above, the position of the sun according to the season, time of day, cloud cover, etc. all determine the clarity of the photos. The photo on the left was taken at 4 pm CDT (Central Daylight Time) with the sun shinning directly on the stone, the photo on right was taken the next day at 12:48 pm CDT with the sun coming in from an angle. I go into more detail on my Tombstone Photo page where I show another example of the difference time of day and angle of the sun shining directly onto the stone makes on the final photo, or how the sun shining from an angle from the side creates shadows highlighting dates and words chiseled into the stone.

Mirrors to Reflect Sunlight

Another non-destructive photography example is using mirrors to reflect the sun onto tombstones in the shade that reveal otherwise invisible information. A picture really is worth a 1,000 words as seen in the photos below from this Mirror Photography page.

Shady photo

In the shade

Shady photo

Mirror reflecting sun

On both of my personal pages I provide more information with links to related cemetery restoration and photo pages as well as Mark Davis – Stone Saver Cemetery Restoration company page.

The blog “How To Take Better Gravestone Photos” discusses using a camera flash similar to the mirror technique on Marian’s Roots and Rambles blog when there is no sun.

Microchip Technology

At the end of program Ron Stanley of R & T Monuments gave a quick overview of the latest technology of an RFID microchip that can be glued on old monuments or in a drilled hole in new monuments for access by smartphones and mobile devices using internet connections.

This video Tombstone Technology: Passing Information on Generation After Generation with Curt Witcher of the Genealogy Center shows the R & T Monument microchips recorded June 27, 2011 by IndianaNewsCenter.

Corrupt Computer File? Restore the Previous File

Whew! Glad Windows 7 has Restore Previous File Versions – a five minute fix rather than reinstalling the software or time searching for a solution! A failed monthly backup over night corrupted my Dreamweaver software when I forgot to shut it down before backing up the computer. I shut Dreamweaver down after the backup locked up, and it must have corrupted a file. When I tried to start Dreamweaver to make a minor addition to the web site, I got error messages. The Designer.xml file was corrupt since it was changed around 6:00 am, the same time I had to abort the backup and force a computer restart. Never a fun thing to do at such an early hour! I blurred the computer name in the image above, it’s not a big security issue, but why risk it? File corruption nor backup failure should happen, but it did. Apparently my older external hard drive used for offsite storage needs to be retired or reconfigured. Windows Previous Version uses Restore Points or previous Backups saving work and time trying to figure out how to restore Dreamweaver used to generate the Allen INGenWeb site.

In Windows Explorer > right click the corrupt file > Properties > Previous Versions tab. Windows searches for Previous Versions in System Restore Points and any Previous Backups. I use Windows Backup daily at a set time to Backup the Documents folder and Windows automatically backs up the system files as a system image. I make sure all software like Family Tree Maker, Office, Outlook, and others Save all user files to my Documents folders rather than buried in hidden default folders in the operating system hierarchy. I had the choice to use a Restore Point or the Backup file copy. The date and time were the same. This is another reason to make regular backups! Just to be safe, I copied and pasted the corrupt file before restoring it, although since it was corrupt, it wouldn’t have fixed anything.

According to Wikimedia “The “Previous Versions” feature is available in the Business, Enterprise, and Ultimate editions of Windows Vista and in all Windows 7 editions.”