The Intriguing Case of Using Images in Your Website

I was hoping to totally redesign my “Type” page and start work on my “About” page of my website this week, but I spent too much time working on a take-home exam for my Antebellum South class and grading papers to get that ahead. I learned a great deal about images this week and decided that when editing images for a historical site one should hold to the “News Photo” standards. Just like a news photo, historical images are presenting a viewpoint and truth that we as historians should not alter. That doesn’t mean we can’t resize or crop to bring attention to details, but we shouldn’t be photoshopping in elements that were not there originally. I did think the section on illustrations was interesting and something to consider, especially using type as an illustration. It already has me thinking of how I might use type as illustration in my site. I also loved the article on the Case of the Inappropriate Alarm Clock. I’m not sure that I agree with James Curtis that we should censor the New Deal photographers for manipulating the composition of their photographs. I do think it’s important to know that this was done when applying historical interpretation of the images. It allows us to discuss what was the intent and purpose of the FSA photographers. Was their goal to only present journalistic reality (whatever that was in the 1930s) and only capture moments of reality? Or was their goal to use artistic techniques to tell the story of Depression Era America in an effort to support New Deal legislation? And as important, how does knowing that they did move objects change our interpretation of the past? I actually have my students in my Women’s History class read an article about Florence Thompson by David McCormack that discusses the reality of Lange’s Migrant Mother image, so I think it is important to discuss motivation and reality.

I also enjoyed working through Dr. Petrik’s tutorial on Photoshop. I couldn’t find her image the “Home Guard,” and so I used another print I found on the Library of Congress Site. It took me a little while to make the conversion from Paula’s PS directions to my PS CC 2015, but in the end there were only minor differences and I had no problem creating a new image. This is what I created:

slave women mat

I’m looking forward to finding the right line image for my website and use this technique to create artwork for my website headers!

I commented on Pearl’s and Lacy’s Post

3 thoughts on “The Intriguing Case of Using Images in Your Website”

  1. I like Prof. Petrik’s exercise as well. It was very relevant to me because most of the material I have to work with is either photos of monuments or engraving and wood block images. I thought the technique she showed was really helpful in bringing something new to a site, particularly for headers. I was stuck the first couple of times that I tried it, but I eventually figured it out.

  2. I did not get a chance to do the readings that were originally assigned for this week, but it sounds as if I will enjoy the exercise that you refer to in your entry. I will have some modern images in my presentation and while some I will not be able to modify (as I will be linking to another University’s images) I was already thinking about how to enhance others. For instance, I have an archaeological photograph that shows the outline of a feature. Such things can be difficult to spot and interpret for a non-archaeologist, so I will need to find a way to make the outline clearly discernible in the overall image. Glad to hear that I will have some readings/exercises to help with that thought process.

  3. The Morris article was fascinating! Based on all of the interviews he conducted, it seems as though the goal of the FSA was to promote the New Deal by showcasing the conditions, but the personal goals of the photographers was to show life as it truly was with no manipulation. It was interesting to see the back a forth on those concepts because to me, they were both happening simultaneously back then and that realization seems to be what set everyone off.

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