Friday, August 29, 2014

AAHHhhhhhUGggg! Image Compression !!

So, maybe you knew this - maybe you didn't.  But, if you have a website for your art business and you DON'T know may want to pay attention.

Google makes the speed at which a website loads part of their ranking algorithm.  So what? may ask.  Well.  If you were intrepid enough to put your own JPEG images into your website, as I was...chances are they are pretty big files so that you could keep your image quality high.

Problem:  you are taking up a LOT of bandwidth if you do this and it makes your website load slower.  With internet speeds the way they are these days, and 3G and 4G phone connections so very nice...the slower website load is not as much of an issue as it once was...but the bandwidth thing causing Google to rank your page lower?...not useful.

This is probably not new news to you younger artists out there; or those of you who have hired someone to create and maintain your website - I'm sure you have other things you are spending your time doing - that don't include working this aspect of your art career.

But I'm the one doing this...emerging new artist that I am.  And, since I'm not QUITE as old as dirt... but was alive before the advent of personal computers...ah, and cell phones..., maybe even electricity...(kidding).  Well.  The point is...I'm not as computer savvy and I wish I was or probably should I'm always learning something new.  Aren't you glad you're here so you can learn with me?  :)

Today I have learned the difference between JPEG images compressed and PNG (Portable Network Graphic - invented to replace GIF format) images compressed.

Here's the visual that helped me get it:
So, let's say that you have professional photographs of your work made and the photographer saves them for you in TIFF format - I hope... (if your photographer doesn't do this, you should ask that it be done). 
A TIFF file can be opened with most every image program as it's an extremely common format.  It can save 16 bits per channel scans, store all the metadata, hold all the color and for all you Photoshop folks out there, store layers and most importantly, it can be saved compressed or uncompressed.
What then is a JPEG?  Well.  For one thing, it is most likely what you save all you photos as, what your camera maybe saves your photos as, and maybe what all your digital photos already are
I have learned today to be sad about that.  Why?  Because a JPEG is a compressed file.  Okay.  A PNG is also a compressed file.  The difference between the two lies in the difference in the type of compression.  One type, the JPEG is compressed with a Lossy compression.  The PNG is compressed with a Lossless compression. 
Both compression types mean your image is being compressed using mathematical algorithms...but JPEG is (unless you are very careful and don't compress it too much) a much more severe type of image loss than PNG because it's just removed image information...and once that detail is gone.  It stays gone.  Re-save it again as a JPEG and you loose even MORE image information!  YIKES!
Now if you have a very precious photo taken long ago and you want to compress it...scan it as a 600 DPI TIFF file First and then save it as a very high quality JPEG.  This will make it somewhat smaller than the TIFF and the image information it looses will be pretty much imperceptible to the human eye.  You don't want to put this high quality (big file) image on your website though...
You want to save bandwidth on your website, remember? least if you care how the Google Gods rank your page!  Throw that TIFF image into a compression utility software program like the one I will be trying today -  PNGOUTWin - (free 30-day trial !) 
It will transform that TIFF image file into a PNG file.  Lossless compression...tada!  I hope it works as well as I have been reading it does...we shall see :)
Okay.  I've got to get back to work!  Hope you enjoy your Friday and have some time to create today!  I'm going to go out to the studio myself after I let the computer pickle my brain for awhile.
'Til tomorrow!