Today on the Newbie Blogger Initiative forums Rhalinur asked about managing screenshots, so I thought I'd share the methods I use to run my screenshot-heavy blog. It's been something I've wanted to write about earlier, but just never got around to actually doing it (I'm only lazy because playing MMOs is so much fun and it's taking all my free time!).
As I wrote earlier, I want things to be as easy access, low-maintenance as possible. Since I'm using Blogger, I have the option to upload all my blog's images directly into the service so they're kept on the same server as my blog. However, I'm also a heavy forum-user, Twitterer and IRC sloth, so I often need to post the same image to other medias as well. My solution is to use an external image hosting site, and now for the past 2 years or so I've been a happy user of Imgur. There are many other similar services out there, I used Photobucket for years, but switched to Imgur because Photobucket was becoming very slow and bloated with ads and unnecessary stuff.
With Imgur, it's very easy to upload a batch of images and then copy their urls over to blogs, chats and forums - and the premade BBCode forum tags also help. I'm not a fan of how external hosts like to add their name and links to the premade HTML links, so I just prefer to write the actual IMG tags in my posts by hand and add my own ALT texts for SEO reasons. Most image hosts also scramble your file names, so they're next to impossible to memorize - theoretically having descriptive file names helps with SEO so that's something to keep in mind if it's important to you.
My ideal of easy access extends to reading the blog as well - no unnecessary clicks for you, dear reader! I don't like showing just a tiny thumbnail in a blog post that then has to be clicked to reveal (after 10 seconds of loading) a full-sized, unedited 3MB large screenshot. I want to show all images in their original size, which means some editing needs to be done before my screenshots make it to the blog.
In the lower right corner of my main PC's desktop I keep a few important shortcuts - links to the screenshot folders of all my current MMOs and the folder where I save my edited screenshots. To edit a screenshot for my blog, I open the original, high-resolution image using my default image viewer, Irfanview. It's a lightweight program that's good for really quick edits and file managing.
With a few clicks I can Crop (Ctrl+Y), Sharpen (Shift+S) and Resize (Ctrl+R) an image to fit my blog. I'm using a fixed-width blog layout, so there's a limit to how wide my images can be before they clip with the sidebar - I've settled on 600 pixels max width, so that's the limit I work with. After I've saved the newly cropped image as a high-quality JPG file (quality 100, we hate compression artifacts) I just upload it into Imgur, copy the provided URL into Blogger/IRC/wherever and I'm done.
I'm also using Imgur for all other images I need to share, not just for my own screenshots. It's very bad form to hotlink to images on other people's sites, because the image might get deleted or the owner of the image might change it to something really nasty if they catch you stealing their bandwidth. Even if it's just the cover image of a game that you copied from Amazon, upload it to your own webspace or image host! Big-name image hosts are also fairly reliable, so the links should be valid for years to come. All my images from way back when (2004?) are still intact on Photobucket, even though I haven't used it for years, which is more than I can say about the state of the image archive on my current PC.
Do you have any tips to share on the topic? How do you manage your blog images?