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Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Article #32: JPG Compression Clues and .webarchive Files

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No matter how many times I’ve written or spoken about it, there are still many people who are saving and re-saving JPG files.

Am I just blowing in the wind? Well, in a field of dandelion seed-heads, I'm blowing one and hoping the seeds sprout. Hmmm...Maybe that didn't come out right.

Anyway, pictures speak louder than words. My demonstration takes place in the hair of the girl as shown in the white box.

I choose the darker (shadow) portion of hair because that is where most photos show the worst degradation. You will notice a subtle change in the pixel colors. This is because each time we re-save, close the picture, open it and re-save, the pixel colors are averaged out to the pixel colors surrounding them.

Now look at the close-ups to see what happens after I resave the files 4 times at varying compression quality settings:

The "Before" is just a bunch of pixels in varying shades of gray (accurately representing the highlighted area of the little girl's hair).

Notice how the same edges of the pixels become blurry in the "After" version. You'll also notice very odd color shifting within some of the same pixels. Not pretty!

The pixels' edges are no longer distinct. This looks worse when we download an image from the internet and use it to make a print-quality image.

Question from Ardele, a member of the Polish Genealogical Society (the Rodziny):

Mr. Basir, I have read a number of your articles in Rodziny and have found them very interesting and extremely helpful. On a number of occasions when I find a document during my research I can only copy it in the .webarchive format. Is there a way I can copy this file to .TIF, .JPG or convert it to either one of these formats?

Answer: Thank so much for your support of the PGSA and Photo Grafix. This was a new one for me! I eventually figured it out. I hope it's helpful!

Download and install a web browser called “Safari.” I know it’s made by Apple, but it seems to be the only solution. Fortunately, they now have a version for Windows/PC computers.

After you install Safari, load it and go to File=Open... And navigate to the location on your computer where you saved that .webarchive file. Then click on the file. Next, you should see the entire ship’s manifest which you wanted to save. Finally, go to to File=Print and look for a “Save As PDF” option in there. Save the PDF to a spot on your computer where you can find it.

If you want to save it as a TIF or JPG, you will need to open that same PDF from within a photo editing program such as Adobe Photoshop Elements or PaintShop Pro. Try to open all the pages at once through the Import dialog box (which should appear automatically). After it opens, save each page as a JPG or TIF. Before that, however, you might want to stitch them together in one file. I suggest you leave it as PDF. It’s less complicated and more versatile for archival and research purposes.

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Anonymous said...

When I downloaded BEFORE and AFTER, all I got was a black square. Am I doing someting wrong?
Very interested in your comments re copying .jpg files.

Anonymous said...

Can't see BEFORE and AFTER of saved .jpg files...only black squares. What am I doing wrong?

Eric at Photo Grafix said...

You should be seeing many black and grey squares representing the shades of darkness in the little girl's hair (I outlined it in her picture blowing dandelion seeds).

These are actual enlarged pixels.

Notice how the edges of the squares are blurred and have also adopted strange color casts.

Anonymous said...

If not .jpeg then what -- is .tif the best?

If we have photos saved as jpegs should we save them as tifs and then edit?


Eric at Photo Grafix said...

If your originals are in JPG, that's fine—as long as you don't work on them and resave as JPG. If you want to work on them, save as TIF. If you want to share them, save a copy of the TIF as a JPG and discard the JPG after sharing it.

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