I started publishing regular updates to a website in the mid-90's (first called DaveWorld then DaveSpot then DaveBlog). Back then it was simply an "online journal" that was manually created and updated. By the year 2000 "weblog" (eventually "blog") was an increasingly commonplace term, and online publishing tools became available which made it easier and easier to do. My first blog was started in 2002, but was eventually scrapped in April of 2003 when I started Blogography.
Being a blogger in 2003 was a different world (wide web).
Most people had much slower connections to the internet and there were wild concepts like "bandwidth throttling" which could severely dampen your visitors' online experience (and will likely dampen it again if our pig-fucker politicians kill net neutrality). On top of that, disk space and bandwidth were precious commodities for which your hosting company made you pay dearly. More than once I'd end up with a massive extra fee on my monthly statement when a photo I posted went "viral" (a term than didn't even exist back then) and slaughtered my bandwidth quota. Because of the expense, bloggers had to be really careful about publishing images on their sites. Photos were rare. When you did post them, they were tiny and compressed to death. And back then they were likely scanned from paper photos or shot at really low resolution, so they looked pretty bad.
Looking back, it was a primitive time. But back then it was just they way things were (unless you were made of money) and we accepted it because we didn't know any better. Or have any other option, really.
A couple weeks ago I was searching through my old entries for something and started noticing how bad my early photos were. To save as much disk space and bandwidth as possible they were saved at 210×160 pixels then displayed at 420×320 pixels, like this shot of the Hard Rock Cafe Osaka Universal Studios in 2003...
Once bandwidth costs started dropping and people had faster connections, I upgraded to photos which were actually cropped to the full 420×320 pixels they were being displayed at, like this...
Not a ton better, but a bit easier to look at, which is why I went back through all my old images and "upgraded" them to the 420×320 size.
In 2010, I got a new camera and my images were "widescreen," so I switched to a full resolution of 500×330. This time I didn't go back and upgrade all my old photos because the size ratio was different (and I had so many entries that it seemed like it would be a lot of work).
In 2012-2013 I transitioned to bigger images, this time 600×400. If I linked back to an old entry with smaller images, I would usually "upgrade" the image (again) if I still had the original photo, like this...
Then on June 29th, 2012, everything changed. That's when I got my first "Retina display" MacBook Pro. It had a much higher pixel-density than previous laptops, and photos looked so much better on it. Unless you were looking at a website with standard-resolution images. So on July 10th, 2012 I switched to 1200×800 pixel images, but still defined them as 600×400 pixels so people with high-density screens would have far nicer images to look at. That's been my "default" ever since.
A couple weeks ago I decided to start upgrading my old images (again-again) assuming I still had the original photo available. I wasn't expecting much improvement but, even on those old paper photo scans, the images ended up looking much nicer...
A far cry from what I started with...
A part of me was wondering if I shouldn't go even higher... 2400×1600 pixels... because you just know that eventually we'll have VR displays or direct brain-implants to take us there. But these earliest photos wouldn't benefit from that much, so I've decided to hold off. Odds are some revolutionary new tech will come along to upscale lower-res photos anyway, so 1200×800 is probably good enough. For now. Maybe in the future I'll start uploading dual files for all my new photos. Just to save me time for when the inevitable happens? Worth a thought, anyway.
But image quality isn't the only upgrade I've been working on...
When I was in the "middle-period" of blogging where images were cheaper to host... but could still be expensive if I posted too many of them... I would sometimes host half of the images on an external service to share the load.
As these image hosting services disappeared (or started charging money!), I’d just delete the links to the images they held. This made early entries even skimpier than they already were, so when I started upgrading again-again, I also went back and added some of the missing images. On my post about Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, for example, that meant my photos weren’t just increased to 1200×800 pixels, the count went from two photos back to the five photos I had original posted. Pretty sweet.
I have a LOT of entries left to upgrade. Too many. Which is why I'm not going to kill myself in the attempt, I'm just going to do a couple dozen every week and see where that gets me.
Probably nowhere. Why do I blog again?
I love comments! However, all comments are moderated, and won't appear until approved. Are you an abusive troll with nothing to contribute? Don't bother. Selling something? Don't bother. Spam linking? Don't bother.
As a very long time reader, I appreciate all of the effort you put into this blog. Not just the daily posts (but YES the still daily posts), but also the hosting challenges, the updates, and now the photo improvements.
Thank you for doing all of this! It is not going un-noticed.
Thanks! It’s all a bit selfish though… when I click back to one of my old entries and see the tragic state of photos I was using back then, it’s pretty tough to take!
Why did the color improve so much on the last upgrade? Just a bad down-sampling algorithm before?
Oh yeah… probably should have mentioned that my early paper photos were scanned by a cheap SCSI scanner I bought second-hand. Eventually I had the negatives professionally scanned for all my old photos, which is why the color looks so much better!
I’ve been reading blogography for so many years. I’ve got your t-shirts and playing cards. I remember once you posted a picture of yourself naked and the photo was so tiny that it was impossible to view. Such a tease. Back then I had dial up. And a read a few blogs. Yours is the only one I still read. And I just loved bad monkey.
Ha! Yes, that naked photo was a joke that I pulled which came back to haunt me. It truly was a naked picture of me that was taken by my girlfriend at the time. The joke was that it would be impossible for people to see because I made it so tiny. Well… joke’s on me. Some guy who had access to image enhancement software used by Hollywood and the police used it to digitally enhance me being naked. Don’t know if he ever shared it or not… but lesson learned!