How to display your photos in our Forum

This tutorial will show you how to display photos in our forum or any other forum that does not have its own uploading function. The reason our forum does not have a direct uploading function is because a single image can take as much room in the database as 1000 text posts, and this slows down the forum. We are always working on a tight budget, so bandwidth and server storage space also becomes an issue when images are stored on the website that hosts the forum.

The good news is that there is a simple and quick way to upload photos and have them show up in any forum, and it won't slow down the database or overload the server. By using one of the many free image hosting services, you can upload your photos directly from your computer and then paste a link into the forum thread, which will then show your picture as if it was stored directly on the server. This process is just as easy as using an upload function on a forum, and is probably quicker due to the fact that image hosting sites have extremely powerful servers.

Figure 0

The first thing you need to do is select a free image hosting service that will allow you to upload your photos. There are probably hundreds of these free image hosting sites available, and most work almost exactly the same way - you just select photos on your computer and then the site gives you a link to the uploaded photos so you can share them online in forums and blogs. I really don't have a favorite image hosting site since they all seem to be about the same, so you can either use the one I have shown here in this tutorial (the first one I found from the search shown above), or just search Google for "Free Image Host" to find one yourself.

Figure 1

Once you browse to a free image hosting site, you will usually be presented with a very plain and simple interface that does nothing more than allow you to select photos from your computer and then upload them to the image hosting server. These web interfaces probably don't need much explanation, but I will run through the complete process anyhow. Hey, we aren't all computer nerds, right?!

Find the button that allows you to select files for upload. This will usually be called "Browse", "Upload", "Select", or something along those lines. There may also be a button to select images from your computer (local) or from the web (internet). You want to select images from your computer, since you are going to be uploading them for later display and sharing.

Figure 2

Once you click the upload button or link, a file browsing dialog will appear. Now where did you put those photos? If you let Windows rule your life, then they probably ended up in the "My Photos" or "My Documents" folder, so click your way through the directories and select the photo you want to upload. My Aurora Trike photo was on my C drive (arrow A), and selected in the temp folder (arrow B). Click on the photo your want to upload so it is highlighted and then click the "open" or "select" button to continue.

Figure 3

Once you have selected your photos for uploading, you have to click the button on the webpage to compete the transfer. On this image hosting site, the button is marked "Upload It" as shown in arrow A. Depending on your internet speed and the size of your photo, this process could take seconds to minutes to complete. Photos taken directly from a camera are usually very large, so you may want to resize them for display on a forum or blog. Resizing photos is something you learn by trial and error, but if your linked photo seems to be larger than the screen on the forum it is being displayed, then obviously it should be scaled down to a more reasonable size. Typically, a photo with a width between 600 and 800 pixels will be fine for most forums or blogs.

If you upload a lot of very large photos and then link them in a forum, your thread may load very slowly for people like me who are stuck on dialup speed. A full screen image takes 10 seconds to load on my computer, so a thread full of high resolution images could take several minutes or just time out. When this happens, we get complaints in our email box claiming that our forum is slow, when in fact it is just a single thread loaded with linked high resolution images. You don't want this to happen do you?

Figure 4

Once you have selected your photos and click the "Upload" button, a progress bar will usually be shown so you can see the upload happening. For most users, this process will take a few seconds, but for dial up users, it could take a minute or longer depending on the speed of your connection and the size of your photo. If the upload process seems to be taking too long... just wait longer!

Figure 5

Ok, now that your photo has uploaded, the image hosting site should present you with a page that has several different types of links that can be used in other forums and blog sites. All of these links may look like confusing computer nerd jargon, but it is not difficult to find the one you need for our forum and many others. The link you want will end in ".jpg" or ".JPG" as shown by arrow B. You could even click on the thumbnail photo (arrow A) and copy the link from the page that displays your image. This image hosting site even has a button to copy the .JPG link right to your clipboard for pasting into a forum, making it even easier (arrow C).

So just remember, all you need is to copy the link that ends in ".JPG", and this will allow you to share your photos in any forum that can display images in the message. This link to your photo will also work in an email message, on blogs, and on your own website. So far so good.

Figure 6

If you want to test your link before posting it to a forum, simply paste the link in the address bar of your browser, and your photo will display in a blank window. This is where you will learn about image sizes and scaling since your image will be displayed here the same way it will show up in a forum. If your image is wider than half your screen, then it is probably too large for a forum, and will be even more annoying to view on those goofy hand held thingys since the image will be twice as wide as the tiny screen. So if you are new at this image posting and sharing thing, it may take some experimentation to get it right, but don't worry, you won't break the internet by trying.

Figure 7

Ok, you have successfully uploaded your photo and have the .JPG link directly to your photo so now you can share your images directly in our forum and any other forum that allows the use of the [IMG] tag. IMG you say? Yes, this little bit of code tells the forum that instead of just displaying the actual link to your photo, it will instead display the photo right in the forum thread. As shown by arrow A and B, the link to your photo is wrapped in a starting [IMG] tag and an ending [/IMG] tag. So the image link that I retrieved from the photo sharing site that looked like this...

Now becomes this with the addition of the IMG tags...

[IMG] [/IMG]

And that's all there is to it! Just remember that there is a start tag [IMG] and an end tag [/IMG] and that the IMG part has to be in capital letters. This is the accepted format for displaying images directly in a thread with most forums you will visit. If you omit the IMG tags, then only the link to your photo will be displayed in the forum, but users can still click on it to display your photo, which may be useful when you have so many photos that you want to offer the option to just click certain ones rather than showing them in an endless stream on the page.

Figure 8

Once you submit your message to the forum, the little monkeys inside the computer will find your [IMG] tags, remove them, and then insert your image right onto the page for all to see. Now you can upload as many photos as you want and it will not bog down the forum since the photos are actually stored someplace else. Of course, a thread with 20 large photos will still take a very long time to load on the viewers computer, but that is just the nature of the internet.

Figure 9

As shown above, you can do the same type of image sharing and link posting using popular photos sites such as Flickr and Webshots. As long as you can find a link to a .JPG photo, all you need to do is wrap it up in the IMG tags to share it in our forum.

Now if you are completely new to taking photos and would like a few tips on photographing your ride, check out our photo taking and resizing tutorial here...

Photographing your DIY project

We look forward to seeing photos of your works in progress in our forum and hope you will post your completed bike photos in our Builder's gallery.