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Click photo to see full view of Ray Laenen in the lifeboat that was "home" for 22 days during WWII
Whether you are writing your memories of World War II to share with your family or to provide a legacy of your experiences and reflections to others in our World War II Living Memorial, adding graphics to a document can help your story come to life. Photos or graphics of other artifacts such as letters, ration booklets, maps or medals can provide the picture that is "worth a thousand words."

Computers are "digital." The information that they interpret is composed of "bits" which we understand to be either on or off, black or white, a 1 or a 0. In order to make information compatible with a computer it must be "digitized." There are various ways that you can digitize a photo or other graphic to make it compatible with a computer.

o Just as they will develop a roll of film and put it onto a photo CD, many photo processing services will take your old photographs and will put them onto a photo CD for you.
o Many copy centers will scan your photographs and will put them onto a floppy disk or zip disk for you.
o You can take a photo with a digital camera (for example, take a photo of a medal or uniform) and connect your camera to your computer to transfer the photo to your computer.
o You can scan your photo with your own or a friend's scanner and convert it into a format that you can save on your computer.

You can then exchange digital photos with others by any of the following means.
o Put the photo on a disk or some other removable storage device to give to someone.
o Upload the photo to your home page on the Internet if you have one. Others can view it there or save it to their own computers.
o Attach the photo to an email message to someone.

Scan an image

A scanner is a device which is used for converting visual information into digital format. The most common scanners are called "flatbed" scanners and resemble copy machines. The photograph or other item to be scanned rests on a glass plate and the machine's scanning head moves underneath it. What makes this type of scanner very versatile is the fact that it can scan originals of various sizes and shapes. Since you can leave the scanner lid open you can scan book and magazine pages, medals and other artifacts, as well as photographs, letters and other flat documents. The scanner comes with specialized software that is used to convert the document or item into a digital graphic format. The various versions of scanning software each may have some different features and different steps that you take to digitize the item you want to scan. Some software is strictly for scanning. Some software can be used to scan the image and then manipulate it. Basically the steps would include the following.
1. Turn on your scanner and computer.
2. Place the photograph or other item on the scanner, face down in the corner of the scanner.
3. Open the scanning or photo software you are using to scan and select the option to get a photo.
4. If necessary, select the scanner you are using from a list of options.
5. Use the preview or prescan feature of the software to see the item to be scanned.
Note: The scanner does a quick prescan which puts an image of the scanned item onto your computer screen. There is a selection tool which can be used to select the entire image or just a part of it.
6. Select the part of your original
you want to scan by moving the selection frame with your mouse. 7. Set the options for specifi-cations such as color, resolution and scale, etc. (See the following sections.)
8. Select "scan" to scan the item.

Set scanning resolution

The photo you see on your computer is composed of numerous pixels (picture elements) like tiles in a mosaic. Each pixel is a tiny square of a single color or shade of gray. Resolution is the number of pixels in a given unit of measurement (usually inches). A photo with more pixels per inch has a higher resolution than a photo with fewer pixels per inch. A higher resolution shows more detail in an image but also means a bigger file size (in terms of kilobytes or megabytes).

The resolution at which you want to scan your photo depends on how you will use the photo. If you want to print the photo using a laser printer you may want to scan at 300dpi (dots per inch) since that is the resolution at which most laser printers print. If you have a printer that prints at a lower resolution, it is only necessary to scan the photo at the resolution of your printer.

If you are not going to print the photo but will use it only on your Internet home page or in email that will appear only on someone's computer monitor, you can scan at the default setting for most computer monitors (72 pixels per inch for Macintosh and 96 pixels per inch for PCs).

Set scanning scale

When you scan a photo or other document and want to change the size of the finished scan you can do that by selecting a Scale Factor. If you want the size of your output to be the same size as the original, use the default of 100%. If you want the output to be larger or smaller, pick a larger or smaller percentage.

Note: You will need more resolution if you will be enlarging an image, and less if you will be reducing it. For example, if you are going to print your image on a desktop color printer at 200% of (twice) its size, and you want it to have 200 dpi resolution, you will need to scan with the resolution set at 400 dpi.

On the other hand, if you will be printing at 50% of its size, you only need to scan at 100 dpi.

Preparing a Photo for the Web

Once you've gotten a photo into digital form, there are various ways that you can optimize it for viewing on a computer screen or on the World Wide Web. There are three specifications that you want to control. Size (dimensions) of the photo If you didn't already do so in scanning the photo, you want to crop out any unnecessary background so that viewers can focus on what is important in the photo. A photo of you that has walls and ceiling or sky, bushes, parts of other people or groups of people may need "cropping." Use the selection tool in a graphics program to select and delete parts of the photo that are extraneous to what you want to emphasize in the photo.

Once you have cropped the photo to your satisfaction, you should use your graphics program to resize it. There should be a menu item or button called something like resize or image size which you can use to make the photo smaller (or larger) on your computer monitor.

File format

Graphics files that you are going to use on a web site should be saved in either GIF or JPEG format. Use the Save As command in your graphics program and select one of these file formats to use in saving the file. Size of the file (in kilobytes)

Resizing a photo reduces the dimensions of the photo as it is displayed on the computer screen or when you print it. You can also reduce the size of the file. Size here refers to the number of kilobytes that the file takes up on your hard drive or floppy disk. If you can reduce the size of the file it will take up less space wherever you store it, take a shorter time to send by email to someone else and take less time to load on your computer screen or to show on your web page.

To reduce the file size, you can compress the photo using various graphics software programs. If you compress the file too much it will somewhat distort the photo but, depending on the level of detail in the original photo and the number of colors used, you may be able to compress it quite a bit without losing quality. For fast loading, your graphic file should usually not be over 30 kilobytes if you are going to display it on the web.

You can get specific information about programs to use and steps to take in compressing files in the Web Graphics Size and Compression discussion on the SeniorNet website.

Get Help

Volunteers and other participants on SeniorNet's website are always willing to help one another with computer-related questions. We have a very helpful computer support area on our site. When you are on the RoundTable discussions main page scroll down the page until you see the Computers and Online Q&A folder. Click on it to see the list of discussions ranging from Windows95/98 and Macintosh help to various browser support discussions and topics such as Digital Cameras & Photo Editing Software and Scanners. There is also a sub-folder there called Instructional Materials on Computer Topics. It contains information and support on topics such as an Introduction to HTML and an Introduction to Making a Home Page as well as a practice area for optimizing Web Size and Compression.

Some of our SeniorNet Learning Centers offer a course on graphics that has modules on learning to use a scanner.

If you have a photo that you want to share with the World War II Living Memorial, please contact us.

WWII Living Memorial
121 Second Street, 7th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94015
fax: 415-495-3999
email: seniornet@seniornet.org

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