Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

Getting images from your camera to your hard disk is fairly easy. Posting pictures on the web is a little more work and a photo sharing site.

I'm trying to post a picture for blog profile. It's asking me my photo URL. The photo is in my pictures but I don't know how to retrieve it to put in profile.

This is a common question among folks new to the internet.

When you load a picture from, say, your digital camera to your hard disk, that's still not enough to make it visible on the web. You might be able to mail it as an attachment but using it on a web site requires an additional step.

The picture itself must first be uploaded from your machine to the web.

The question is how, and where?

When a site asks for a URL, it's asking for a reference to something on the internet that's (typically) on a web server and continually accessible to all. A good example is this URL:

http://ask-leo.com/images/askleonew.png

That's the URL to the image you see at the top of this page. That image lives on my web server in the publicly accessible site ask-leo.com.

"... if you have a picture and want to use it on a web site you must first upload it ..."

I have copies of that image on my hard disk, of course, but they are not accessible from the internet. In fact, we go through great lengths to make sure that your hard disk and mine are not accessible from the internet, for security reasons.

What this all means is that if you have a picture and want to use it on a web site you must first upload it to either the website you want to use it on, or another.

Some websites allow you to reference pictures, but have no facility to actually upload. That's a case where you need to upload to another site, typically a photo sharing site, and then specify the URL to that site as the location of the picture.

There are several photo sharing sites available for this purpose. flickr and Photobucket are two good examples, though there are others. The way it works is this:

  • Pick a service and create an account there.

  • Upload your photo or photos to that service. Exactly how this is done varies from service to service, but it typically involves a simple web form where you specify or locate the image on your own hard disk, perhaps add a little information like a caption, title or tags, and then an "upload" button that takes it from there.

  • View the photo on the service to make sure it's exactly what you want.

  • Use the URL to the photo on whatever other web site is asking for a photo URL. To get the URL, in Internet Explorer you can right click on the photo and then click on Properties to see the image URL; Firefox has Copy Image Location after you right-click to get this.

Let's use an example. On flickr I've uploaded a photo of one of my dogs, Jerome, here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/74688923@N00/114361713/. Note that this is not the URL of the photo, it's the URL of a page on flickr.com that contains the photo.

You might want to read that last statement again, because the difference is extremely important. A page containing a picture is not the same as the picture itself.

If I now get the URL of the photo it turns out to be http://farm1.static.flickr.com/45/114361713_e99887f065.jpg?v=0. If you click on that you'll get only the photo.

And that's what you would use on other sites. For example, here's that photo taken from flickr, embedded here on ask-leo.com:

Jerome

The photo is hosted on flickr.com, but displayed on ask-leo.com. In fact I'm fairly certain that there's no copy of that exact photo on my web server anywhere.

Now, before you start uploading photos like crazy, a few important points need to be made.

  1. Read carefully the terms of service of the photo hosting site you're planning to use. Some have limits on how they can be used, and if you violate those terms you can lose your account, and your images, without warning.

  2. In fact, always assume that you might lose your uploaded images. In other words, it's your responsibility to keep your photos in some way, be it on your hard disk or by copying them somewhere else. And always make sure to back them up safely.

  3. Crop and resize before you upload. Photos from digital cameras these days are huge when displayed on the web. Use an image editing tool to crop and resize the photo to something that will display properly in whatever online use you intend for it.

Article C3336 - March 31, 2008 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

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2 Comments
Joop
April 4, 2008 10:46 PM

Todays' newsletter answers question re:fotos that I was looking for an answer to. You now deserve a 2 buck cup of coffee, Leo! Tot zien

Gina
April 5, 2008 9:22 AM

Make it 2 extra biscuits and a hug--Jerome is beautiful! (Of course, I also have a Pembroke Welsh corgi and *MAY* be a bit partial)!

You mentioned cropping and resizing images to be displayed on the web. I know how to do this, but I'm not sure what size a picture should be?

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