Photo Resizing Guidelines

You’ll notice we now have a photo upload limit. Here’s why and how to deal with it.

Digital cameras are getting better and better… and taking bigger pictures than ever. Your camera is probably around 8-20 Megapixels, which means wonderful print-quality photos that can be blown up to poster size. In digital terms, they ARE poster size! Which is pretty useless on a computer screen.

The internet has not benefited from these super-size photos. It’s actually a major problem to upload, store, and distribute them. Large pictures can’t even be displayed on a computer - we have to downsize them to fit your screen. But doing so wastes a lot of valuable data and bandwidth. Low-speed connections like dialup and 2G cell phone connections can’t handle them at all. Much better if they were the correct size in the first place. This is easy to do, as I will explain below.

Up till now, we allowed up to 16 MB uploads. This allowed most folks to upload directly off the camera, without thinking about resizing. This works OK for small forums with less activity. Unfortunately, we woodgassers love our pictures too much… we’ve accumulated an enormous backlog of super-size camera photos. In 2015 we will surpass 30 GB of just photos. It’s very expensive to store and serve up that much data. In fact that would fill our new hosting service to capacity and not leave room for any new posts. Rather than do that, we’re going to slim down the photos we’ve got, and limit the new ones to a reasonable size.

We’re now moving to a 1 MB photo limit, 500 KB preferred, and to achieve that I recommend you resize all photos to 1024 px on the longest dimension. Here’s several ways to do that:

  • Adjust your camera. Most cameras have a photo size setting. If you turn it down far enough, it will take very small photos that look fine, and can be uploaded directly. This may take some experimenting, and some models may not adjust small enough. For those, go to step 2.
  • Resize your picture. There are some free utilities that do this quite well (see below). The target is 1024 on the long edge, and file size should be under 500 KB. Whenever you see a “quality” setting, set it to 80%. Photos uploaded to Google+ can often be downloaded directly and will often work just fine - they do this resizing automatically.
    • Image Resizer (Windows). To use it, just right click a photo, choose “resize picture”. Put 1024 in the first “custom” box, and leave the second one blank. You can do this on multiple pictures at once.
    • Nautilus Image Converter (Linux) is the same type of thing for our open source friends. For Ubuntu/Mint users, open a terminal and type: sudo apt-get install nautilus-image-converter
    • Preview (Mac) The default preview window has an excellent resizing option. Click Tools > Adjust Size. Alternatively, look for ResizeIt in the iTunes store.
  • Crop your picture. If you don’t want to lose detail, you can simply crop it down to the relevant area of the picture. You’ll need a basic photo editor, like Picasa or Shotwell. Note that you’ll still need to resize it to meet the criteria above. For advanced users, I recommend GIMP. It works on Windows Mac and Linux, and will resize, crop and many other things.
  • Use a photo service. If you have a large photo and can’t stand the idea of shrinking it, then I recommend any of the major photo hosting services. Flickr offers 1 TB of free storage, for example. Then you can get a link to the picture, and put it in your post. It will show up just like it was uploaded here.

Your efforts here will make Drive On Wood a better place! Let’s trim the fat and make the site faster for everybody. Thanks for helping us out!

Thank you, Chris, for these guidelines. I was wondering about this around the time that we were required to crop our photos to reduce their size just to be able to post them on the old Drupal site. I remember those who made mention of their slow Internet connections in the PNW, and wondered about how big to make my photos. Now I know, and will make reasonable efforts to achieve them on a regular basis.

My camera usually defaults to about 1.5 to 2MB

I open them using Paint (comes with every version of Windows) and scale them down by 50%.

That usually drops them down to the 500K to 600K range.

Here’s a screenshot of the Windows 7 version of Paint:

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Thanks for the info Chris. I was unaware of a limit of storage. I will load these pictures up into a file or Google+ and have a link. I post a lot of pictures for input of others and for future reference if needed.


I’m displaying my ignorance here, but when we upload photographs to this site, does the metadata stay with them? More specifically, if I right click on a photo, and select “Save Target As”, will I get a copy of the metadata originally associated with the photo? What I’m getting at is, some metadata formats include LAT and LONG coordinates, and anyone who gets hold of it can know EXACTLY where the photo was taken, within about 30 meters or so.

Just from the viewpoint of privacy and security, is there any way to strip out the metadata before the photo uploads, or even AS it uploads? Or am I being too paranoid?


If you resize photos you’ll strip out the metadata. Most photos are now above 1 MB and will be resized, and the EXIF data will vanish. You can test this with different photo programs to be sure. But you’re right, if you upload metadata it will download just the same. Most of the time this is useful anyways, only the location data is a privacy issue.

You can turn off location data in your phone settings. Regular cameras generally don’t have GPS and don’t store location info.

##How to disable GPS location tagging

###iPhone or iPad

  1. Launch the Settings app from your Home screen.
  2. Tap on Privacy.
  3. Tap on Location Services.
  4. Tap on Camera.
  5. Choose Never.

###Android 4.2+ phones

  1. Start camera application
  2. Hit the Settings button
  3. Scroll down and find the GPS Tag option and turn it off

In older versions, the option may be called “Store Location,” but is it essentially the same process.

NOTICE: We no longer need to downsize photos! Discourse has recently added a feature which auto-resizes large images to the proper dimensions. If you can upload it, we’ll resize it - anything up to 6MB is acceptable.

This should make your life much easier - direct uploads from the camera, even on your phone!

Test photo: 3.48 MB

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I think I can speak for a lot of us; “Thank you for looking over this sight and keeping it updated” By now I think the ones who post pictures have found a way to do it, but not without added effort. In my case I have been e-mailing the picture to myself and letting the e-mail down size it Then I have to take the picture off the e-mail. I can’t wait to have to post a picture after your new method. TomC

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