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Images 101 for Events, Sponsors and Event Photographers

by Brendan Maxwell - TetraMedia on 7 Jul 2012
Wild Oats XI © Andrea Francolini Photography http://www.afrancolini.com/
Sailing is one of those sports which is much more followed on the Internet than in magazines, newspapers or on television. It is therefore vital that marine events and marine industry professionals pay careful attention to the needs of Internet consumers.

TetraMedia, the worlds largest marine news content provider publishes a total of 19 websites around the world in the Sail-World.com, Powerboat-world.com and MarineBusiness-World.com group, distribute and publish news from hundreds of marine events each year. We were involved in print media for 30 years before the web was invented, so we have hands on experience in both mediums.

A large and ever growing part of the TetraMedia operation is as the PR or content provider for World Championships, National titles and major regattas around the globe. So as both consumers and suppliers, the TetraMedia group deal on a daily basis with images for both online and print usage.


Here is a short summation from TetraMedia of just how the online world is changing and what events need to consider.

Internet images sizes - Resolution is the measure of pixels (or dots) on the computer monitor screen, a higher resolution (or more pixels) is recommended for large screens sizes or when much detail is desired. Currently for 15 - 17 - 19 monitors the resolution is usually 1280 x 1024. This resolution is suitable for the vast majority of uses.

While colour magazines typically print at 300 dots per inch (dpi,) early computer monitors had a dot pitch of around 0.35 mm – which translated as 72dpi, now larger desktop monitors are usually around 0.270mm – approximately 96 dpi.

But now good laptops have leapt to 147dpi equivalent, iPhones are 300+dpi equivalent and beyond and the day of iPads and laptops at 300 dpi equivalent and desk top monitors two or even three A4 pages wide with 300dpi images is approaching fast.

In the early days of the internet, when dial up was the standard connection method, images used on the internet were commonly tiny images stuck in the corner of a picture, just 300 pixels wide.

Now with broadband line speeds of 5mbps are modern base line and the consumer is seeking higher quality images, because he can really see the difference on his computer screen.


So what does this mean for Marine Events, Sponsors and Marine Event Photographers?

Much larger Internet quality images are needed by online media– for many years events have distributed ‘internet quality’ images of 500 pixels now. Please do NOT send images out at that size for media use.

The new standard is 1280 pixels (this will continue to drive upwards in coming years. ) - it's the new mobile phone and tablet size after all.


That is unless event organisers really want to keep the sponsors logos small on the screen? If you really think that might be the case… events and the photographers can always ask the sponsors, if they can’t figure out the answer for themselves.


Image editing

Horizon correction is essential. While a crooked horizon was hardly noticeable to a casual glance on a 300 pixel wide image, it’s very visible when the image is full screen. The world’s top marine photographers never ever send out an image with a 1, 2 or 3 degree slant on the horizon, unless they are being arty and then 10 or 20 degrees is fine. All photographers need to follow their example.

Portrait or Landscape? While newspapers are portrait format, digital media is landscape. So make sure you are providing images for both mediums.

Digital images need sharpening. Digital photographs, by their very nature, appear somewhat soft focus. Some cameras sharpen the image as part of their software, and some cameras let you specify how much sharpening (if any) you want the camera to do, but usually as part of your processing you'll want to fine tune this process in your imaging program.

Colour correction is important. Contrary to popular belief sailing does occur on dull and overcast days. That does not mean images need to be dull too. Professional marine photographers always look carefully to see if images need colour or brightness correction. If it’s good enough for them it’s good enough for all events.

Image captioning. Sending out a slew of pictures or posting on event photo galleries with file names like DSC4756812, with no caption information beyond the Event Name is unforgivable.

It's fine for fleet shots but not one boat shots.

All too often that image contains no bow number of sail number, its exciting close up action. The photographer looking at the lead up full boat shots for instance can easily see that information and can identify the boat and sailor.

The media seeing the one image has no chance unless he can recognise a face or a crew uniform. That would general count out the mainstream media and almost always the sailing media, unless you just want photos of Ben Ainslie or Tom Slingsby and other instantly recognisable sailors.

There is no event that can allow photographers to not provide this critical information. Rolex, Volvo, America's Cup and most small events around the world know that captioned images get used in newspapers, large and small do not. All news is local. A coast newspaper will print an event story with the lead picture of the local sailor who might be coming fifth. Sending out images with no sailors names means this cannot happen.

Why would an event or photographer do that?? To make it hard for the media?? To reduce the chance of the image being used?

Yet we routinely are told by the Event PR that there is no budget to put sailors names on images, or the photographers are too busy or they thought they were captioned but did not check. These are sponsored events!!!

Is this helping to deliver value for sponsors and the event? You can draw your own conclusions about this.

Metadata - a method of storing textual information in images defined by the International Press Telecommunications Council. Sending out four images with the same DSC47568… series of image with text in the email that say Image 1 is Bill Bloggs approaching the top mark, is hardly less unforgivable. The image one you loaded into the email may be image four in a numerically sorted computer file, this a road beset by tears (at the very least rename the images XYZ event Bill Bloggs approaching the top mark.jpg).

Professional photographers populate the Metadata set with an image caption, the full event name, their name, creation date etc. – If your event photographer is not using Metadata – ask him to start using it TODAY. TOMORROW ask him to show you the Metadata he is putting on each image.

File sizes and emails. Every now again an event attempts to distribute medium and high resolution images by email. They send seven 5 meg images attached to the one email and wonder why, it takes so long to send and routinely bounces. Many internet accounts are limited in file sizes to 5-7 meg.

Alternatively they send seven emails each with a 5 meg file. Now that’s fine if they are requested, but to do it uninvited is just unprofessional.

Professionally run events like Rolex and Volvo have high res image galleries, so media can download the images they want.

Image Mode . Online images are displayed in RGB (Red Green Blue) format. There is NO internet browser or monitor that can display images in the print CMYK format, so don’t ever send images in that format to any media. (Print publications custom calibrate CMYK for their particular print process.)

Compression quality settings for JPEG’s. Compressing an image in a JPEG format selectively discards data.
When saving a JPG images graphics program users are presented with a choice on image quality 1-12 with a default of 10.

The higher the Quality setting, the more detail is preserved in the image, however that means a large file size.
Generally unless the image is destined for large format poster printing a quality setting of 10 for print use and 8 for online.

In summary – to produce good quality images for media use.

1. Straighten images and crop
2. Sharpen and colour correct.
3. Caption images in detail
4. Reduce file size and compress

A 1280 pixel image, edited as above will be less than 150k in file size. So there is no need to attempt to load 10 images each of 5meg, which will stop your computer cold while it tried valiantly to send out 50meg of files.'

The TetraMedia Group makes it easy for events and PR groups to load their images (and stories) to the Sail-World.com, Powerboat-world.com and MarineBusiness-World.com sites with its direct upload system.

We recommend events use that process. You will see our Submit News, Events & Pix button on the first newsline on the site on the top of every page. Note if you attempt to upload ten five meg images, total 50 meg, you will tie up your own internet connection, maybe not receiving an email for an hour and in all likelyhood timing out your internet connection. If you reduce images down to say a meg each, life will be much much easier.


If you’ve not bought a desktop PC monitor recently, you should know the sweet spot of size value is now 22' – which has a screen display 1920x1080 at 0.27mm pitch (94dpi equivalent) and can be purchased for around AUD$220 (U$200) NZ$290, UKGBP130.

15' Laptop generally have a screen which is 1280 pixels wide and the drive there is for finer and finer pitches. Forget dot pitch of 0.27 hello 0.1728' that is equivalent to 147dpi.

iPhones and iPads are retina display 326 dpi equivalent. Android 4 tablets and phones are 306 dpi equivalent.

(*To convert dot pitch to dpi equivalent, divide an inch (25.4mm) by the dot pitch in mm so 0.1728 laptop dot pitch calculates as 254/0.1728 =147 dpi)

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