September 30, 2011

wholesomeoptions

Wholesome Options
http://wholesomeoptions.blogspot.com/
Health blog by Varsha Tiwary



Wholesome Options is about making wise, smart choices in Nutrition and Fitness.

It questions the humbug, dogma and marketing spiels in Nutrition : from Low Fat Diets to Heart Healthy Oils and Sugar Free Biscuits.
It promotes a love for Movement for its own sake-not to attain a mythical size zero or six pack abs.

Wholesome unabashedly loves real, unprocessed foods and heart thumping, muscle tautening Functional Exercises that have a carry over in Real World activities rather than populating Gyms with pretty shiny machines.
Wholesome helps People love moving and eating well for its own sake instead of doing these things from a sense of duty, guilt or self-deprivation.

September 29, 2011

Anna Hazare embraces blogging!

Let the Indian blogosphere welcome the blog of Anna Hazare.

'Anna Hazare Says' is the twin blog in Wordpress [ update: no longer available] and Blogspot platforms that has just started. In Hindi, English and Marathi, the blog is still under construction.

We had earlier put a post on Anna Hazare. When we posted that one, there were 1.8 million blogs that had talked about Anna. Nice to find Anna in the Indian blogging world.

Is the blog a feather in his cap or is it the other way round?

September 28, 2011

Indian Blog Directory updation in November

We are planning to have a thorough updation of the Directory of Best Indian Blogs in the coming weeks and publish the updated directory by the middle of November.
We will post details of the selection procedure sometime later. Right now, please note the following:
  • The closing date for including blogs for examination will be 15th October 2011.
  • Selection of blogs will start de novo. That is, a blog’s being there in the present directory or blog ranks will have no relevance to selection except that the blogs will automatically be examined.
  • Nominations received for blog review and blog showcase will also automatically be considered for the directory.
  • We are conscious that despite our survey of the Indian blogosphere in the last one year and current efforts, we would be able to check only about 20,000 blogs in all out of a few million Indian blogs.  We’d welcome suggestions for inclusion of good blogs in the directory, till 15th October. Do email us at: kp.nd.2008@gmail.com
  • Blogs with inappropriate content will be rejected outright.
  • Blogs, however good, will be rejected if they do not have at least one post published in each of these 3 months preceding the closing date: July, August and September 2011.
  • We do not intend to artificially put a ceiling on the number of blogs that are to be included in the directory. Yet, the competition will be tougher this time than in July. Blogs in the directory whose quality or regularity has suffered badly since July are likely to be dropped.

September 25, 2011

woodooz



Arts, crafts, woodworking blog by Preethi & Somu

Woodooz is about being self-reliant and unearthing the simple things around the house that we can do ourselves - be it fixing a cabinet door, decoupaging a bottle or hanging a painting.

Through Woodooz, we intend to chronicle our learnings on woodworking that can help one be one's own handiman. Woodooz is a hobby that has burgeoned into custom making furniture, lamp shades, clocks, paintings and more for friends and family. We believe in adding personal touch to home decor through DIY on arts,crafts and woodworking and Woodooz remains to be a platform to showcase our projects.

bigtamasha



Big Tamasha
http://www.bigtamasha.com/ [update: no longer available]

News & current affairs blog by Harbhajan Singh

Life has become one big tamasha. And here is your daily dose of the same. 

All named and photoed characters are real, words attributed to them partially unreal but just to make the satire. 

No harm is intended to anybody. Apologies in advance.

September 20, 2011

Is my site a proper website or a blog?

'Blogs' are a sub-set of 'websites'

Blogs and traditional websites are
subsets of the web world
Websites have been in existence since the advent of the World Wide Web, and blogs came much later. The early blogs were true to their literary meaning – web log or web diary – but slowly they turned into full-fledged websites. Over time, the difference between a website and a blog has blurred to the extent that they look the same. The saying that was popular once – that a website is static while a blog is updated - does not hold good anymore.

Technically speaking, blogs are a subset of web spaces or websites. In this assumption, all blogs are websites but not all websites are blogs. Loosely speaking, you can call a website with blogging features as a blog and a blog with lots of other content than posts as a website.

Both blogs and other websites have a homepage and a number of other pages. Site designing these days does not require writing each line of code, and a large number of ready-made templates and what-you-see-is-what-you-get [WYSIWYG] programs are available to create any type of website with numerous features. External codes in the form of widgets / gadgets are available that can be fitted into almost any design. Blogging platforms give this functionality through their ‘design’ option. So, the end result of designing whether doing it through Wordpress / Blogger or ab initio in a web-designing software might look the same.


However, big sites / portals, business sites and sites needing online transactions have structures that blogs cannot [and need not] have.

Blogs have some distinctive features that websites, especially those maintaining old characteristics of websites, do not possess. If your site has the following features, it is more likely a blog:
Not necessarily, but generally, if a site URL shows that it is part of a blogging platform [e.g. example.blogspot.com], it is a blog. But a blog need not have such an identity [e.g. http://www.indiantopblogs.com]

If a site is maintained in the form of a diary in which posts are written periodically and are arranged reverse-chronologically, it is a blog. If a site allows commenting on posts, it is further into the blog mold.

If a site has widgets for current content, aggregation / grouping of content and interaction, it shifts towards being a blog.

If there is a main site with a sub-site that is called blog, it must be maintained as a blog that has the inherent quality of log-keeping, updating and interaction.

On the other hand if a site, even on Blogger / Wordpress platform, is maintained with lots of information but not in the form of periodically published ‘posts’ and not allowing interaction, it is a site not fit to be called a blog.

Is a blog less prestigious than a website?


Since most blogs are of personal nature and not always serious about their brand, people may take a blog and its owner less seriously. Another reason for people not taking blogger as seriously as a site-owner could be that most blogs are maintained free on blogging platforms while you need to pay hosting charges, etc to maintain independent sites.

Because of this, sites / blogs with names containing blogspot / wordpress / livejournal and other blogging ‘surnames’ score poorly as compared to sites and blogs with independent URLs. Blogs [or sites devoid of blogging features] with names of blogging platforms are said to be taken less seriously by search engines too! [In totality, however, blogs tend to get more search friendly because of their regular updating, comments etc.]

But some website owners prefer to call their websites as blogs, as it invites interaction and tells that the site will keep regularly updating the matter. In fact some of the most influential websites today are either true blogs (e.g. Huffington Post, ViperChill) or are updated like blogs (many sites of newspapers, magazines and television channels)!

The last point

If you are a non-corporate blogger, you can do whatever a simple website can do and much more. Just keep it in the best form [You can find a number of tips on Indian Top Blogs]. 

Do not pay huge sums just to have your website that needs technical knowledge for its maintenance and upgradation; use Blogger or Wordpress – the best available blogging platforms.

If you are in business, it is advisable [at present] to have a full-fledged website and a complementary blog and/or a social media page [e.g. Facebook]. Studies have found that websites with blog sections drive more page indexing on search engines, links and traffic.

You might also like to visit this post: How to have a Blogger blog that looks like a static website?

September 15, 2011

Blog showcase: a quick follow up

The response to our call for entries for blog showcase has been tremendous. Within about 36 hours of publishing the previous post, we have received 8 nominations. We wanted to clarify some points in view of the likely big response, so this post.

It appears that we will not be able to accommodate even one-tenth of the nominations that we receive, so we have thought of the following mechanism to choose the 'first among equals'.

We thought of limiting the showcase to Indian blogs only but we realise that it doesn't serve much purpose. We are also not in a position to shortlist blogs for quality beyond what is described below.
  • The blog must meet a minimum standard in content, regularity and design. In content, subject matter and blogger's effort would score over grammatical refinement. There should be no objectionable content on the blog.
  • The nomination should be in the exact format provided in the previous post.
  • The description should be compelling. Allow us to re-emphasise that a good blog with a poor description in the showcase does not do justice to the blog, and so you should give your best in the description of the blog. Though we'd not like to reject nominations only on the basis of  description, nominations with a very poorly written description are liable to be rejected. [We are open to modifications in the description and re-submission of the same blog, if the revised submission is as per guidelines given in the previous post.]
  • We won't further shortlist nominations available in the basket based on merit, popularity or any other criterion. We'd just pick one blog randomly.  We'd carry forward all earlier nominations.

We'd welcome suggestions for a more transparent, yet good system of shortlisting blogs for display on ITB. Should we shortlist blogs based on their Google PR / Alexa ranking? Should it be on popularity, based in turn on comments? Should we list the nominations on Indian Top Blogs and invite readers' votes? We are averse to shortlisting blogs based on popularity, but we would also like to be as transparent as possible. What do you say?

Please read this post in continuation of the guidelines for blog showcase.

September 14, 2011

Your blog is so good; why not showcase it on ITB?

Indian Top Blogs has a window to feature quality blogs, called 'blog showcase'. Anybody can submit his / her blog for showcasing on ITB.

The process

- We feature only a few blogs in a month on the ITB website. Sometimes the frequency is even less.
- The featured blogs are available in ITB archives and are accessible through the 'blog showcase' tab in the navigation bar on the ITB site.

Need I apply for being featured, and how?

You need to apply by sending an email to kp.nd.2008@gmail.com in the following manner:
- in the subject of the email, write: blog showcase
- in the body of the email, write exactly as stated below:
  -- first line: the URL of the blog [e.g. http://www.indiantopblogs.com]

  -- next line: title of the blog in no more than 30 characters. Whether you call it 'Teenu's Blog' or 'Where sky meets the nephros' is up to you. It will help if you identify the blogger and / or the purpose of the blog.
 -- next line: describe the best features of the blog in no more than 500 characters [80 words]. It has to be the best description you can think for your blog, without self-praise. For example, if you feel that you need to highlight the design aspect, do that. If you feel, your blog is helping poor children get helping hands, tell that.

This is how the blog showcase would appear on ITB.
What is that I get by showcasing my blog on ITB site?
 
- You get featured in a site that is gaining popularity and reputation for genuine rankings and reviews and blogging advice. It adds to your blog's reputation.
- You get a backlink to your blog from ITB. It means more popularity, greater authority and - as ITB grows - more and more SEO value as your blog gets a 'dofollow' link.
- As your post will be linked to your blog, visitors to the showcase post as well as the list of showcased blogs are likely to visit your blog.
- Your blog gets a mention on our Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and other social accounts. When we go to other social media sites, we'll carry your blog there too. We admit that we are not very active on social networks, but we are there nevertheless.
- You get a URL of your own. [We'll give the 'showcase' featuring your blog a page name with ITB + your blog's URL.] You can put it anywhere on your blog or elsewhere - and it will show only your blog's showcase.
- We put a thumbnail of your blog's homepage, as shown above. Visitors can see a glimpse of your blog in the 'showcase' itself. We also highlight one or more of your best features.
- You benefit immensely by this exercise as you discover the best things in your blog. It gives you an opportunity to write an excellent 'pitch' for your blog that you can use on other social media sites, bottom of your email, etc. The odds are that you will feel happy after the exercise.
- When visitors comment on your 'showcase', you get those many opinions on your blog.
 
How does it score over peer review? I get great reviews from competition sites.

- Award and recognition sites on the web depend either on popularity or votes given by other bloggers. Bloggers entering competitions need to promote their entries, and mostly the ones with good networking win over others. Yes, such rankings do serve a purpose, but in our view ranking / review by a totally unbiased agency with no monetary  interest or lure of reciprocity in promoting a particular blog works the best. 
- In our email interactions with some bloggers whose blogs we reviewed in detail, we found that most of the times, bloggers do not know the intrinsic qualities of their blogs even when they feel they are the best blogger in their group. This exercise would give you an opportunity to think of the best in your blog.
- The showcase is sort of certificate from us that your blog meets a minimum standard in terms of content, design and regularity.

How can I be sure to be showcased? Can I apply again?

We have been overwhelmed by requests for showcase, so delay in showcasing a blog is inevitable. If you have applied once, you don't have to apply again if you have followed the submission guidelines given above. If you want to modify the  description of the blog subsequent to a submission [but before showcasing], write in the subject line: blog showcase: modification request. 
You can send an email to us if your blog is not showcased even after six months. Before sending the email, just be sure that you'd followed the  guidelines while sending the submission.


There is a follow up post on blog showcase here.
Do click here for guidelines for blog review and directory submissions.


September 10, 2011

How and where to put images in website or blog for best results

Updated in May 2017
This is the last post in a 3-part series on use of images in blogs. The first post dealt with technical aspects of imaging and the second one was on image properties and editing for blogging purposes. The present one deals with aspects relating to pictures especially from blogging angle.

 

10. Purpose of picture elements in blogs


Images and other visual elements are used in blogs in these major ways:

1. Photographs, other graphics and videos are put in posts to supplement text. In photo-blogs or posts in the form of photo-features, images are the dominant content and text is used to supplement it.

2. Images are used to enhance overall blog appearance: template/ theme; background; title background; icons, titles, blogger’s portrait and badge/ logo; pictorial headers and footers; animations; flash introductions and navigation schemes; favicon; etc.

3. Images also land up in blogs when they are part of external code: widgets and photo-widgets; advertisements, honors and awards; linked photos; etc.

4. Besides images and videos, colors and patterns are used variously in blogs to create visual variety.

11. Relevance of the image


blog-template
nice template, but is
the text easy to read?
One of the foremost things to  keep in mind is whether an image will add value or reduce it. Is the image relevant? Does it not reduce readability? Does it match the overall color scheme of the blog? Does it go with the overall personality of the blog?

The question of relevance is especially important for images in the blog’s title bar and background. The image in the title area can increase the appeal and overall value of the blog many times. The image in the background gives a sense of continuity by weaving together various elements, and complements the personality/ mood of the blog.
colors-for-blog-templates
colorful template, but does it
suit a literature blog?
You will find on the web very fancy templates/ themes that cover the title area and the background. Some of them are really very imaginative. Some websites and blogs have impressive graphics that seem to add great value to the website/ blog. 

However, before applying a background to your blog, test it on the parameters we have mentioned in this post. Please keep two more points in mind: 
  • Only because an image or a theme looks great on someone’s blog does not mean it would look as good on yours. 
  • Your own images and designs give the uniqueness to your blog that generic images and themes cannot.
   
blog-templates
snapshot of 4 templates
suitable for different types of blogs

12. How many and how big images can your blog take?


An important consideration is the number of images in a blog. As said above, images should not be put there without a good purpose. The ideal number of images in a blog/ individual post depends primarily on the overall personality of the blog. 

The number of images in posts and sidebar also depends on the blog layout and design. A 3-column blog with two narrow sidebars is inherently cluttered; it would look worse if you put many photos in between. Beauty and functionality of many blogs is destroyed by numerous badges and icons stuffed in the sidebar. When the blog has a brightly colored and lively background, there should be fewer images in posts and the images should also go with the overall color theme.

Posts should generally have images, but not too many. If your blog is a fun blog with only small bits of text, you can have a large number of images. In personal blogs, you should sometimes have a photo-feature with a number of photos on a theme [e.g. child, home, a trip, a ceremony, flowers in your garden, party]. Have the photos in good size [500x400 px or so] in a series, tweak or slightly edit one or two, use smart text to integrate them into the theme – and your photo-feature is ready! 

File size is important too. As explained in the second post in this series, convert big images into images of small file size. Even then, big images [say, 600x700 px] will generally be of big file size and if there are many such images on a page, the page might take long in opening in the browser.

Keep image width a few [about 10] pixels less than the width of the column in which you intend to put the image, to allow for indents and margins set for that column.

Unless you have a purpose like the photo-feature mentioned above, do not have too many big images in posts. They unduly elongate posts and make the text look disjointed.  There are many situations when you indeed need big pictures (besides those in photo-features): individual big photos of some memorable occasion; a scenic panorama; a painting that excels in detail; pictorial presentation of a process such as cooking, making  a handicraft or repairing an artifact; fashion and portfolio... If you must put big photos in posts,  keep a very small number of posts in one page.

 

13.  Use of slide shows and animations


You can use slide shows when you have a large number of photos to show [e.g. after a lovely trip]. 

Do put slide shows and animations after due consideration. Moving images are a big distraction and can irritate and confuse. They also slow down the blog. Use of funky images / animations such as a moving bird or falling leaves make the blog look interesting, but they also distract; their freshness also wears out when people visit the blog many times, and chances are that these elements start annoying after a while. 

We’d recommend that moving elements are reserved for special occasions. For example, you can put a fluttering flag for a few days during the national day; twinkling stars / glowing lamp flame / color balloons bursting all over the blog around festivals or birthdays; and a slide show of wedding photos after your [if you are too old, your daughter's] marriage. 

14. Image in the title bar


It is no-brainer that title bar is one of the most important spaces in a website. A graphic, however simple it may be is often better than no graphic. 

Do keep these points in mind: 

  • Generally, you should place the title image behind the title text [and description too if it can be accommodated] and not above or below the title text. In addition to looking good, this scheme saves precious space.
  • Avoid including title text as part of the title image, as the text clarity may suffer and changing the image would require again including the text in the new image.
  • For making title image, use the cropping tool profusely instead of stretching an image to fit in the unusual dimensions of the title space. 
  • Since you need to use text, see that there is exceptionally high contrast between the text color and the background behind it. 
  • Do not use a picture with varying dark and light areas if you want to place text upon it. 
  • Avoid putting animations and slide show in the title area. 
  • Though some popular themes, especially in Wordpress platform, have a search box in the right corner of the title area, we’d rather recommend keeping the title clutter free; the exception for a simple search box can be made for plain titles with monochrome or white background. 


15. Image(s) in the blog background


As we discussed above and in the second post in this series, size and resolution of the background image are very important. A single image for the background will need to be big and of high resolution. It will need to have dark and light portions such that they are not in conflict with other elements such as text and images in the post and widgets. On the other hand, a supporting image inside the post has to be of small size and can have low resolution. 

For background, blogging platforms usually allow you either to place a single large image or a tile made of repeated occurrences of a small image as a montage. They also allow you the liberty to keep the text column without the background image in it. [Do see this post on how to put a background image on a Blogspot/Blogger blog.]
text-in-blog-templates
text readability in different background shades

For putting a single image in the blog background, the free images provided by Blogspot and Wordpress are usually nice enough. However, if you want to use your own image, take a big image [Blogger presently recommends an image of at least 1800x1600 px dimension but less than 300 kb in file size]. See that it does not have too much variation in brightness and contrast. Also make sure that the text you use for posts, titles and links looks clear enough. In the background shown here, there is light sky and dark hill, and the words – especially link headings - are not properly visible.
blog-title-color
a bad tiled-background can be a disaster

You can use repeating images in the background, making a beautiful montage behind other elements such as posts and widgets. Since the small image is repeated in a tiled background, it loads faster as compared to a single image of big file size. 

Please note that unless you choose the image with care, a tiled background may mar readability and visual appeal of the blog - the blog might look cluttered and confusing. Choose an image with (i) muted colors and contrast, (ii) no sharp light or dark objects near the edges, and (iii) objects that would look fine when repeated. In the background of repeated figurine shown here, the black and white corners make each tile different and do not allow smooth transition. If you like to have ‘white text on dark background’, a dark tiled background may suit you well. 

16. Placement of images in posts and sidebars


In many blogs that we review, we find images going out of the column. We have discussed the size aspect in the previous post and above and we’d only re-emphasize here that images intruding into other columns render the look of the blog unprofessional. 

Awards and recognitions serve a purpose in blogs, but these are often reciprocation of your appreciation of others’ blogs. Then there are icons for hit counters, copyright, and so on. Not only going by their value, but as visual elements too, such badges should be kept low in the sidebar. If they happen to be too many, they should be brought down to the blog footer or dumped into a separate page [not the homepage]. 

Alignment of pictures within a post is very important. Images can be aligned left, right or center. Your post editor gives you that facility. 

Generally align images left and right, but keep them in the middle when they are big or you want to give them special importance. A range of photos in terms of size and effects can be used to bring in variety. For example, you can rotate a photo by 30 degrees, frame a photo, differently align them… 

Placing of pictures in the top 10” of a blog needs special consideration. We have dealt with this matter in an exclusive post earlier and have discussed images in the title area in a section above. We’d like to repeat that the selection of image(s), their placing, size, shape and quality are much more important for the top 10” of the blog than other spaces. This area is very important and avoid filling it with a big slide show or a video here, unless that serves a special purpose.

17. Giving caption to the image


Unless you want to deliberately avoid caption [e.g. when the image’s content is obvious or when it has been amply described in the accompanying text], you should caption the image. It is a good idea to change font, size, color or slant of text to make it distinct from the body text. Search engines are also supposed to be giving importance to captions.

18. Proper attribution  to the source


You must give proper credit to the source of the image, as mentioned in the beginning of the first post in this series on images, unless you are the rightful owner of the image. We thought, we must end the discussion with this very advice.

Best of blogging! Click here for all image related posts.

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September 5, 2011

Picture attributes and image editing tips for web design and blogging

Updated in May 2017
This post is second in the 3-part series on use of images in blogs. The first post dealt with some technical aspects of imaging. The present one deals with major attributes of pictures and simple image editing. The next one is on matters relating to image placement etc inside a blog.

5.  Image attributes 


London-wheel-on-blog
London Wheel:
good contrast
Image quality depends on dozens of factors. We’ll talk here of some important attributes of quality of an image. 

 1. Brightness. When an image is not bright enough, shadows and poorly-lit areas look too dark. In too bright images, shiny objects lose details and turn white. Manually increasing brightness in an image makes it look whitewashed unless some other attributes are adjusted. Proper lighting during taking the photo is therefore very important; improving brightness using software may not bring the desired results.

2. Contrast. In images with proper contrast, you can distinctly make out one object from the other and see details. but in an image with poor contrast, objects and their details mix up. Photos taken in low light, say at dusk, tend to have low contrast.
London Wheel
in poor contrast

3. Resolution. In digital imaging, resolution refers to the size of the image in pixels. Thus a 10 MP [=megapixel] photo will have around 10 million pixels. If the length x breadth ratio of the photo is 4:3, the 10 MP picture would be around 3400 pixels wide and 2600 pixels in height. Since blog images are generally for viewing on screen and not for printing, images in high resolution don’t add to the visual quality but make the blog slow. 
Photos-on-blogs
Vibrant colors, details, contrast

4. Hue. It refers to the underlying color of the image. If a photo is not ‘color balanced’, it will have a tinge that seems to spread over objects whether they are of that color or not. Photos taken at night using ordinary digital cameras often have yellow-orange hue.

Poor saturation:
grey-shaded, dull colours
5. Saturation. High saturation means you will see bright colors as in daylight. A fully un-saturated image is gray-black. Under-exposed photos tend to be un-saturated.

6. Photography and blog images


This post cannot even try to teach basics of photography, but we must say just as a reminder that if you intend to put photographs taken by you in your blog, take care to properly shoot the photo rather than shooting arbitrarily and thinking that you would improve the photo later on. Point-and-shoot digital cameras and mobile phone cameras give you the leeway to shoot as many photos as you can and without much regard to adjustment of various values, but it does not mean that you should not take care of basics of photography. In all cases, you should keep these very basics in mind: 
  • composition of the photo – position of the main object, distribution of objects, framing, including or excluding objects, the main object versus the surroundings, direction of action, placing of imaginary lines that separate main elements such as sea and sky, …
  • focus and zoom - keeping the main object in sharp focus, using zoom to blur background, adjusting camera for moving objects, depth of field [i.e. whether distant and near objects all need to be in focus], …
  • light – abundance of ambient light, time of the day, light direction, lighting of main object versus the surroundings, use of flash, …
  • resolution – Take photos in good resolution so that you can crop them if needed.
  • naturalness - people’s natural facial expressions, caring that photos do not look artificial, …
  • unusualness - kids’ and pets’ candid shots, people in unusual expressions or acts in public places, fun photos, photos taken from unusual angles, with unusual lighting and unusual times, selfies using stick, … 

 7. Editing images  for the blog

With the help of a professional image editing program, you can improve an image’s quality but only if you have long experience with photo editing. Even then, there are chances of the edited picture looking artificial. Therefore, if you want to use photos of a family function or a picnic on your blog, do take care that the photograph is inherently of good quality, as advised above. If you want to put images of your un-mounted paintings, drawings, old letter etc,  scan rather than shoot them.

Note that if an image – mostly a photo – is of poor quality, it is often better to use a different photo rather than wasting time on improving the poor-quality photo. 

For a lay person, we'd advise making use of a free image-viewing program to tweak images before putting them on the blog. These programs have limited editing capability, but that is more than enough for customizing photos and other graphics for blogs. Some popular image-viewing programs that you can download from the web are: Irfanview, Photoscape, Picasa, Faststone, Photofiltre and XnView. Besides, there are a number of online image editors; you need to upload your photo and use the online tools to improve the image.

Before editing your image, make its copy. Do editing only on the copied image, keeping the original intact.

cropped from the image
of London street above
The most useful and easy tools that you should use for image processing are:

Cropping: This is one of the most important and very simple tool in image processing. What it means is keeping only a portion of the original photo and discarding the rest. If you want to get rid of the disturbing background in a portrait, you need to keep only the guy’s face and remove the rest. Let’s demonstrate how you can easily crop a photo in Irfanview. There is ‘crop’ option under ‘edit’ menu. When you select this option and move the mouse cursor over the image, it draws a rectangle. If you feel the rectangle is not OK, you can undo this action and again draw a rectangle or you can stretch the rectangle to suit your need. There are slight variations in other programs in how you can crop the image.

Keep these points in mind while cropping images for your blog: (i) Cropping will reduce the size of the image. So, if you have already a low resolution picture and you want to bring the cropped image’s size to the original one, you will lose quality. (ii) Crop with the final shape and size in mind so that you don’t have to resize the image later on. 

Resizing: Find the image size by either hovering the mouse cursor over the image icon in the computer or looking for ‘image information’ in these programs. The size will be given in width x length form, e.g. 500x300 px. Look for the resizing tool in the image program and resize the image to a smaller size. For small images that you can fit in a sidebar, you will need much smaller image width as compared to images that are placed in posts. For title bar, you will need very wide photos but with small height. Keep these in mind when you resize an image: (i) Resizing adds or removes pixels artificially in the image, so a drastic resizing might reduce the quality of the image. If you are forced to do so, do it in steps, doing about 20% in one go. (ii) Unless you want to distort the image deliberately, keep the width x length ratio intact [e.g. resizing a 2000 x1800 photo to fit in a 210 px sidebar, you should resize it to 200x180 px, not 200x140 or 200x300 px]. (iii) Resizing of image with text in it blurs the text outline and makes it unclean. (iv) Avoid increasing the image size, as it always results in loss of quality. If you must do so, do it only by a small percentage. (v) When resizing image to fit a column, keep the width a few pixels less than the column width so as to take care of indents and margins of that column.

Irfanview's menus
for common editing tasks
All these programs let you correct the image’s brightness, contrast, hue, saturation and other visual attributes, but use them with caution. Often, especially in these non-professional programs, when you try to improve one aspect, you might lose something else. 

These programs also give you the facility to write text over image, make collage of many images, rotate images, put border and frame around an image, make thumbnails and icons, and give numerous 'effects' to the image. While we cautioned you against experimental editing for improving an image, we’d rather encourage you to play with ‘effects’. These effects allow you to make a piece of art out of your photos in a few simple steps. In Irfanview, these effects can be found under the ‘image’ tool. Apply these effects after [not before] doing proper cropping and resizing.

8. Computer graphics for blogs


eyes!
You can use an existing image, take an ordinary photo of people or objects, or create one from scratch using brushes in a program such as Paint [in MS Office] to create wonderful computer graphics. You need not be a professional image editor and you need not use professional programs; the ‘effects’ and some editing tools such as ‘rotate’ and ‘hue’ in the photo viewing programs mentioned above will bring out the artist hidden in you. You can convert a bright hillscape into a somber evening scene to go well with your poem… scribble graffiti over a fun photo…twist your own face to show how angry you are with corruption in the society…turn your walking photo by 90 degrees to look like walking on the wall…

Take care that you do not manipulate people’s or national symbols’ photos to the extent that it invites criticism and legal action.

9. Saving images for the web


Save images for the web in web-friendly formats (mentioned in the first post on using images in blogs), and not in other formats. Please note that when you save images in these formats after editing again and again, their inherent quality goes down.

Next one: image placement, etc in the blog
All posts relating to pictures, including editing tools, image sizes for social media and text on images.