This is a new window - the photo gallery window that you just came from is still open.

(When you are finished with this page, justclose it).


View images on a "clean screen" - F11 key for Internet Explorer

Look at the full-size images, not the thumbnails

New windows or the same window?

Consider using a proper image viewer

To save and keep a web image

Check how well your screen is set up

If you really want the original image

Get the picture?

Everyone who puts images on the net has spent a lot of time getting them there. Of course they want you to see their beautiful pictures in their best light.

Your web browser is not the world's best image viewer, but there are some tricks that can make it a better experience. Because there are many web-beginners on my site, and because most of us have blind spots when it comes to using software, here are some simple tips on how to view images most efficiently. These points are written for Internet Explorer but similar ideas exist for other browsers.

If you undersand Macs, Netscape or Opera, you are welcome to send me some notes and I'll put them here.

Before you go any further, I suggest you check how well your display is setup.

View images on a "clean screen" - F11 key for Internet Explorer   Back to Top

First and foremost, if you are using Internet Explorer (IE), you MUST understand "F11"!!! The F11 key (somewhere above the Backspace key) allows you to get rid of all the IE menubars, borders, buttons, everything - so you see just what the web page is showing you. In the case of my photos, when you click for the full-size version, you get the image against a black background. The color black was selected by me when I wrote the pages, I don't think you can change it.

Anyway, it does mean you can see the images in all their glory if you understand F11, even if you don't have a "proper" image viewer. Here's how:

  • Get the image on the screen. It will be in a new window of its own.
  • Select F11. You will get an uncluttered screen, probably with a single menu bar along the top.
  • To remove this menu bar, right click on it, and select "Auto Hide". Then when you move the cursor away from the menu-bar, it will disappear.
  • To get the menu bar back, move the cursor to the top of the screen and it will re-appear.
  • To go back to a "normal" window, press F11 again.
  • If you want to keep an image for some reason, you can save it - see here
  • To exit the image window when you are finished admiring it, either:
    • get the top menu bar back by moving cursor to the top, then click on the X at top right hand corner, OR
    • press F11 again, get a normal window back, and close it as you normally would.

Look at the full-size images, not the thumbnails   Back to Top

All the images look a LOT better at the full size than they do in the thumbnails. In fact you often can't even see what is good about a photo from the thumbnail, so DO click on any that you even suspect you might like. Yes it takes a while to download, but all the photos (not including the panoramic pics) are less than 80K and should take no more than 15 to 30 seconds each.

New windows or the same window?   Back to Top

Beginners sometimes get confused by this. When you click on a link, usually the new page opens in the same window as you were looking at before you clicked. Sometimes though, a NEW WINDOW opens for the linked page, so you have two browser windows open at the same time. This is determined by the person who wrote the web page.

On this site, I have set it so that the full-size images open in a new window. This has the advantage that you can keep looking at the index page while the selected image is loading.

But if you click on a second image thunbnail before the first one is completely downloaded, the new one will overwrite the one you haven't looked at yet. So if you want to download several images at once, do the following...

  • Open the first image by clicking on the link (i.e. the image thumbnail).
  • For the second image, instead of clicking normally on the thumbnail link, right-click on it and select "open in a new window". This opens a third window with the new image in it.
  • Keep going if you want, and you can have 6 or 7 images in 6 or 7 windows, all downloading at the same time.
  • Get a cup of tea, come back, they are all there!

Consider using a proper image viewer    Back to Top

The best way to view images is to get a proper image viewer. These are much more flexible than browsers or image editing programs, and since they are cheap, everyone should have one! Cheap means really cheap in the case of Irfanview - it's freeware. Download it for nothing by following the link.

Arguably even more comprehensive, ACDSee is a well known and excellent viewer. You have to pay for this one, but it is reasonably cheap and you can buy it and download over the net. My recommendation is to get the basic ("Classic") version because the full version is more expensive and includes all sorts of things that you probably don't want.

With either of these you can view a folder full of images easily and efficiently, as well as being able to select exactly how you want to handle small and large images (shrink to fit screen etc). You can also view the images as a slide show, or select full screen view, browse a folder ...etc...

If you want to use a viewer to display web images (such as those from this site), first you need to save these web images to your hard drive. This is easy, see the next section. Put the images in a folder you make for the purpose, then use your viewer to browse and view at leisure.

To save and keep a web image   Back to Top

If for some reason you want to save an image, do this. Right click anywhere on the image and select "Save Picture As". Navigate to a suitable folder that you want to put it in (and/or make a new folder), and select "Save".

Make sure you are IN the required folder before you hit SAVE because it is easy with MS Windows to accidentally plonk your image somewhere unexpected, where you can't find it again. (If you did this you would of course use START / FIND FILES OR FOLDERS...)

Check how well your screen is set up   Back to Top

One of the things that surprised me when I started putting my images on the net was how much variation there was in the appearance of images on one display compared to another. The same image can look fine on one display, pale and insubstantial the next, and dark, murky and unintelligably uninteresting on a third. Part of this is supposed to be due to the different assumptions in display design of Macs and PCs, but in my experience most of it is just that many monitors are badly set up. Mine was, and I thought I knew about this kind of thing.

There is a simple setup you can do which can improve things dramatically. Check the following stepwedge image. You should be able to see 17 distinguishable different brightness levels. The left-most step is full black (and only that one is!) and the right-most step is full white. Each pair of steps should have roughly the same brightness difference between. And the middle step should be subjectively half way in brightness between full black (left-most step) and full white (right-most step).

Quite commonly the middle area is darker or lighter than it should be, and one or more of the darker steps are completely missing - that is, they all look like full black. Even if they are just visible, sometimes at the darker end there is very little difference between the steps. And sometimes black isn't black, but a shade of grey. Remember you should see equally spaced brightness changes between each pair of steps.

If you don't see a nice even step wedge, or especially if you can't see some of the darker steps, you can at least carry out the most simple setup as follows:

  • print out or copy these instructions because they won't be on the screen when you adjust.
  • get the stepwedge on the screen and then use F11 to make sure the stepwedge is the ONLY thing on your screen.
  • turn your display CONTRAST CONTROL to maximum.
  • adjust the BRIGHTNESS CONTROL as best you can so that the dark end steps are all visible except the first one, and they look as evenly-spaced as possible. The left-most step and the background should be completely black, but no other step should be black.
  • when you have adjusted as well as possible, mark the BRIGHTNESS CONTROL level, and leave it there. Don't adjust it again.
  • if you want to adjust brightness, use the CONTRAST CONTROL. I know it sounds counter-intuitive, but believe me this is the way to keep your display as well adjusted as you can.

If you are intersted in more information on display setup, look here where I discuss it a bit and give links to more expert advice.

If you really want the original image   Back to Top

If an image takes your fancy for some practical purpose (I have been asked for one for a school assignment), remember that the web versions (even the "full-size" images) are much less detailed than the originals. If you ask me nicely I will probably send you a copy of the full-size original - a digital file I mean, not a printed copy.

This does NOT mean I am giving away my copyrights to these images - if you want to use one for ANY purpose other than on your own screen, you must ask permission first.

Copyright © 2003 Julian Robinson
This page updated: 25Jul2001/13Apr2005  

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