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1. Photo Specifications
2. Digital photography
3. Using a scanner with conventional photos

1. Photo Specifications

Formats

CarsInd.com publishes "jpeg" formatted photos. This is because these files are adequately compressed to speed up page load times but retain good detail when displayed on screen.

Sizes

Whether taking photos with a digital camera or scanning an existing photo with a scanner, you will face a choice of 'resolutions'. Resolution is expressed in a number of different ways. With most cameras, you won't have to worry much about this because you will only have a choice of 'low', 'medium' or 'high' quality. For use on the web, only use low or at most, medium.

In some cases, and almost always when using a scanner, the resolution will be referred to as either DPI (dots per inch) or in dimensions as measured by the number of pixels to a side (like 640 X 480 or 1024 X 768). The best resolution for this purpose is 72 DPI. Set cameras to 'low' or 'medium' quality, save scanned images at 72 DPI.

The actual physical dimensions are also important. The space we allocate for your photo is
550 X 400 pixels, so it's best to get as close to this as possible if you can.

Finally, watch your file sizes. The optimum size is somewhere below 100 kilobytes, and file sizes of significantly more can be a real problem. First, they take longer for you to upload (assuming your Internet Service Provider will even allow it!), and second we're just going to cut it down again anyway for practical reasons.

If all this sounds a bit too hard, don't worry about it. All you need to know is: take photos on low or medium setting; save scans at low to medium resolutions and in jpeg formats - and try to keep file sizes below 100 kilobytes.

2. Digital photography

Where to shoot cars
A suitable location is essential to get the best pix. Look for an area with a relatively clean background. Avoid places where other cars, light poles, bins or other objects are part of your background. 'Stuff' in the background will make your photos look messy and will help obscure the car's lines and detail. Find a spot with the most even background possible, preferably one that's not too bright. On a concrete or tarmac floor with a solid wall behind is ideal, but shots taken on open grass can be better - as long as the background is uncluttered. Basic rule? Keep detail out of the background.

Lighting
When taking photos outside, the best results can be had when the car is parked out of direct sunlight. Direct sun will create too much contrast for the camera and your shots will either be too dark with bright highlights or too bright with no detail in the shadows. Bright sunlight also tends to highlight surface swirl marks and makes the car's colour look washed out and much worse than reality. Good results can be had by taking your shots on overcast days, or by shooting in an area of shade. Be careful not to allow bright reflections, and check to make sure your flash (if you use it) isn't causing glare.

Flash?
We recommend the use of flash should be avoided where possible. The flash will only tend to wash out parts of the car's colour and detail, while creating black shadows and an unattractive, unnatural look. If some flash is needed, fine, but check your photos straight away to make sure you haven't ended up with cars that look like rabbits in a spotlight. Modern digital cameras are now of such quality that even in quite modest light conditions you can obtain quite acceptable pictures. Remember: you're not producing art, you're producing clear communication.

Framing
Try to zoom in or out until the car almost fills the screen, leaving a small area around it for balance. Whatever you do, at least one shot - the 'main' photo - should be of the entire car.

Angles
You can get really creative with this, but we recommend against. Really, you need to show people at a glance what make and model your car is, what sort of condition it's in, its colour - factual information. Attempts to produce 'beauty shots' are probably less effective, but it'syour call. We recommend at least one of the following:
a photo showing the car from front three-quarter a photo showing the car from side on a photo showing the car from the rear three-quarter

It's important to take these photos from a normal standing position at eye-height. Shooting from low down can make the shots look distorted and won't show interested buyers what they're looking for. Remember, buyers want to see what the car really looks like, not how good you are at
photography. Straight-forward, businesslike photos are less contrived and therefore more likely to get someone's interest. If a buyer can actually see worthwhile things in your photos (like colour, condition etc) you will have succeeded in the main purpose of the photo: communication of additional, useful information.

Camera settings
Don't change anything unless you really must. Really, the quality of the automatic settings on digital cameras is excellent and there is rarely any need to alter any of them manually. The only suggestion we make is to either not use the flash at all, or to use it in 'fill' mode only when absolutely necessary. Make sure your camera's photo quality setting is set to the minimum -websites will reduce it to this anyway once you submit it in order to keep file size compact, so going for higher quality settings is a waste of camera memory and Internet bandwidth when you upload, not to mention the fact you won't know what your photo will really look like until its on the site!

Taking the photo
Assuming you've done all of the above, and have your camera batteries charged and enough memory left in the camera, you're ready to go. From here it's really just point and shoot, but even this simple task can have a trick to it. Depress the shutter button part way for a moment before clicking it all the way in to take the shot. This partial pressure causes the camera to auto-focus. Clear, sharp photos won't stand out in a crowd, but believe me, soft, blurred ones will - and they'll be skipped over by shoppers without thinking for that very reason!

3. Using a scanner with conventional photos

What about scanning conventional photos?

Perfect. If you have a conventional camera and a computer scanner, it's just as easy. Assuming you've applied all the same basic guidelines to taking the photo, and have one that's suitable for a classified display, this could be your answer. Your scanning software will allow you to save the file in jpeg format, and all you need to do is make sure you don't set the resolution too high. Just as with digital camera photos, going for too much resolution is a waste. Remember that CarsInd.com
will automatically resize and compress any photos to around 550 X 400 pixels.