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Processing the images

The copied images needed processing to make them suitable for use on a website. They needed cropping, colour and contrast adjustment. Then a whole series of adjustments were made to bring the size of the image files down to something reasonable. There is always a trade-off between size and quality and I will continue to work at improving these.

As there are over 350 pages and 162 illustrations this has been a long, time-consuming and frustrating process. The image editor used for most of the work was Paint Shop Pro version 7. Windows Scripting Host was used to automate as much as possible, but this combination was prone to unexpected errors and computer lock-ups. It also lacked a perspective correction tool, which meant that many of the images were askew due to the foreshortening caused because the book could not be flattened completely without damaging it. A process of trial and error took the project most of the way - it was obvious that the images needed to be grey scale and to have enhanced contrast but this still didn't give a clear enough or professional enough looking result.

The project was put on hold while real life intervened. By the time I came back to it, I had the advantage of Paint Shop Pro 8 with its in built scripting facilities and perspective correction tool - and my own knowledge had also improved. The revised approach was much quicker and easier to apply, although still mind-numbingly repetitive. (In summary: use the perspective tool to straighten each page, and then a home-built script which does the following: sets the canvas to a standard size; duplicates the background and then applies the Threshold tool to it, usually at 200 but this can be changed to account for different page lighting; then sets the layer mode to Soft Light; and then puts a standard frame around the image to ensure visual consistency from one page to the next.

Each page image is then saved using the GIF exporter, as this produces file sizes between one-third and one-half the size of the equivalent JPEG image for the text pages - the plates are saved as JPEGS because they are photographs. About half the pages were created as JPEGs before I discovered the optimum way to crate them as GIFs; I decided life is too short to recreate them!

More information is available here.

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