Gallery Help

Cover Photo: Snowcap, Costa Rica from the Surfbirds galleries © Alan Lewis

Welcome to Surfbirds Photo Help

  • Sign-in
  • Basic Posting Guidelines
  • Photo Editing, Resizing and Cropping
  • Common Questions and Problems
  • Free Software
  • Digital Photography and Digiscoping Tips
  • Sign-in

    * If you are having problems signing in, make sure your "CAPS LOCK" on your keyboard isn't on. Your email address and password are case sensitive. If you are not sure of your password, enter your email in to our Forgot Password page. If you have changed your email and cannot remember your old email address or if you have other problems, please contact us at: surfbirds AT

    * To register to upload photos, you must have a valid, working email address, as you will be required to confirm via email.

    * Any abuse of the system will result in indefinite suspension of posting privileges for that user. We have IP tracking so we can track and ban abusers of the system.

    Basic Posting Guidelines

    * Pictures ideally at 1000 pixels wide landscape type image (width greater than height) or 400-500 pixels wide for a portrait type image (height greater than width)

    * We do not accept files over 1 MB in size.

    Which Gallery to post to?

    Britain & Ireland Stop Press - Click here for species guidelines

    Britain & Ireland Scarce Birds - Click here for species guidelines

    Britain & Europe Common Birds - Regular and common migrants and residents of the country that the pictiure was taken in. Go on, show off your digiscoping skills on your garden birds and more!

    N. American Stop Press - All vagrants on a national, state and province level.

    N American Common & Scarce Birds - All common and regular birds.

    European Stop Press - All vagrants on a national level.

    European Scarce - Scarce migrants of local and national interest.

    World Rarities Gallery - Rare birds in regions not covered by any of the above galleries.

    Please use your best judgement when uploading photos. A dozen photos of the same bird (although it may be exciting to you) may seem a little excessive to others. Try and limit yourself to 2 or 3 of your best pictures of any individual bird. Try and decide what you think will be interesting to others. Please feel free to post photos and then add a link to your website to see more pictures. Surfbirds offers FREE webspace for photographers. Sign up to get your own Photo Blog or your own Photo Album

    Please be aware that this is not necessarily a permanent archive. ALWAYS MAKE SURE YOU KEEP COPIES FOR YOURSELF ON DISC OR YOUR HARD DRIVE.

    Photo Editing, Resizing and Cropping

    Using software to crop

    You can use almost any image-editing software to crop and resize your photos. When you crop, you cut out the parts at the edge of the photo that you don't want to use. And when you resize, you change the dimensions of the picture.

    You may already have an image-editing program on your computer. Take a look in your software and accessories folders to see. Most PCs come with Microsoft Paint, which you can use to edit photos, and newer Macs come with iPhoto, a photo viewing and editing tool. You can also buy software such as Adobe Photoshop Elements to edit your pictures and add special effects.

    Here's a basic overview of the steps to cropping. Your steps may be different, depending on which software you use. So read your user manual for details.

    1. Open a digital image on your computer. Start your image-editing software, click on the File menu, and select Open. Browse through the folders until you find your image. You may need to change the selections so that they show all types of images and file formats. (Note: You may find it helpful to create a folder on your computer called "Surfbirds Pictures," so you know where your photos are.)

    2. Crop the picture so that it contains the part that you want to focus on. Usually there is a cropping tool, shaped like a square, in the tool palette, that you can use to crop your picture. You can also crop your picture by changing the size of the canvas to the dimensions you want. (To do this in Adobe Photoshop Elements, choose Image>Resize>Canvas Size.)

    3. Make sure your picture is not larger than 100KB in size. You may have to down-res your picture if it's larger (larger than 700 pixels wide). In Photoshop in the "Save for Web" option you can choose "jpeg high" or "jpeg medium" you should be fine with jpeg high but if your picture is larger than 100KB you will need to choose "jpeg medium"

    4. Save the image at the size you will be using it. Change the size of the picture so that it's the size you'll be using it. For example, if you are uploading to Surfbirds, you will want to make the picture 600-700 pixels wide. Save the image as a JPEG, with a new file name, in your Surfbirds Pictures folder. Make sure the filename is simple such as alpineswift.jpg - AVOID using dots spaces or slashes. For example: alpineswi1.jpg is good whereas alpine 12.4.02.jpg will give you problems.

    Common Questions

    Q1: I keep getting an error message - won't let me upload

    Q2: I'm in a hurry and don't have time for this. Can I email these pictures to you?

    Q3: I would like to add a link to my website - how can I do this?

    Quick troubleshooting Tips: If you are having problems uploading images, please check that your file is a jpeg or gif (.jpg or .gif at the end of your file name). Use jpg for photos. Check the size of your file. We do not accept files over 100KB in size. Avoid using decimal points and slashes and spaces in your file name. Make it a simple name. For example: alpineswi1.jpg (with no spaces between the letters) is good whereas alpine 12.4.02.jpg may give you problems.

    Q1: I keep getting an error message - won't let me upload Answer: Are you sure your file size is less than 100KB? See Q2 above to see how to reduce it (we recommend processing your image through your camera's software package or the free My Imager tool before uploading). Are you sure your image has .jpg at the end of its name? Avoid using decimal points and slashes and spaces in your file name. Make it a simple name. For example: alpineswi1.jpg is good whereas alpine 12.4.02.jpg may give you problems. Keep all the letters and numbers together with no spaces in between and avoid dots and dashes in the name itself (you do need to keep a dot before the jpg though)

    alpineswi1.jpg is good

    alpine 12.4.02.jpg is bad (spaces and too many decimal points will cause your picture to be rejected)

    Q2: I'm in a hurry and don't have time for this. Can I email these pictures to you? Answer: Yes we do accept emailed images but please note that unless the picture is of a major rarity and newsworthy, it may take a while for your pictures to appear. We strongly recommend that you try to upload yourself - email to surfbirds AT Please be sure to include all details about the pictures, including your name and species, date etc

    Q3: I would like to add a link to my website - can I do this? Answer: Yes please! Please feel free to add one of your best pics to the gallery and then entice readers over to your site to see more. To make a clickable link to your site, copy and paste the following html code to the CAPTION BOX ONLY on the photo upload page (make sure to include everything, all the > "s etc):

    <a href="" target="_blank">see my website for more pics</a>

    copy the line above entirely and replace with your web address.

    Free Software

    Your digital camera or scanner may already come with some basic software that will allow you to manipulate your images. If it is limited in what it can do, we recommend getting an image editing software program such as Photoshop. If you don't want to make this investment (and some complain that Adobe is too complex for the simple tasks that they wish to do), there are some reportedly good FREE image editing software programs for download on the web. Here are a few that we find interesting (we cannot vouch for any of these though):

    PhotoPlus 5 (Free from Serif)

    The GIMP (recommended and used by many industry professionals)

    Imageforge Freeware

    List of Free Image Software Programs for download from the web

    Play around with some of these until you find something that you feel comfortable with. Use the Image Crop tools to crop your images around your subject, use the Image Size tools to resize to the desired size, use Type tools to type any text onto your pictures (optional) and always make sure to Save Image for Web (as a jpeg). This will reduce the KB size of your image so that it will upload OK to the Surfbirds server and will ensure that your images will appear on the web page quickly when other readers visit the page.

    If you are using Photoshop (also visit Adobe website for online manual), use the Crop Tool to crop your picture to approximately 600-700 pixels in width. Use "Image>Image Size" to check the dimensions of your image in pixels. Use the Type tool (T) to type any text onto your picture. Always use "File>Save for Web" (jpeg) after you have finished editing.

    Digital Photography and Digiscoping Tips

    For the Nikon Coolpix cameras, the quick tips are to use "Aperture Priority" mode (so there's an "A" in the bottom left of the screen when taking photos), zoom in on the camera to reduce vignetting. Always use "fine" for image quality and 2272x1704 for "image size". If using Photoshop afterwards, try the Filter>Unsharp Mask to enhance the focus on your photos with impressive results. In Photoshop, always use the "Brightness/contrast" option to brighten up a photo that was taken with a fast shutter speed.

    Sean Cole posted this useful summary on Surfbirdsnews:

    What is apparent is that using a Coolpix 4500 (CP hereafter) for Digiscoping as not as simple as some of the less sophisticated, "point and shoots", like my Sony Cybershot. With that, I was able to turn it on, put it to my scope, zoom, focus, and get some pretty resonable results.

    The CP, on full auto mode, however, doesn't have this ease of use. I recently tried the Contax SL300R-T, a super-slim, beautiful camera also with an internal focusing system, and had the same problem. With this and the CP, you don't seem to get enough light into the camera, especially at higher mag (by which I mean anything other than 20x scope, 2-3x on the camera), meaning
    the shutter speed is so slow as to create a blurred image, or at best a slightly soft, less well-lit one.

    Therefore with the CP, a few bascis are essential for good results:
    1) A high quality scope, with a fluorite-type lens or standard of lens, and the bigger the objective lens the better. (I personally use a Kowa TSN 824, which is straight through, fluorite, with an 80 (82?)mm object lens. This gives better images due to the quality of the lenses, and the increased light coming in to the camera.

    2) I suspect Hand-holding is going to be a thing of the past for me: an adaptor of some sort seems like it may be essential with a CP. Laurence Poh, the supposed founder of digiscoping, however, hand-holds his CP and gets good results, so there may be hope. There is such a range of scope adaptors, and I have never used one, so I cannot recommend one personally. Different people suggest different ones. The Scope manufacturers have latched on to digiscoping and produce their own. Having a Kowa I looked at theirs and it is very good, but costs about £140-160 for my combination. The Swarowski one I thought was extremely good, as it flips away from the eyepiece to allow use of the scope. It is only suitable for use with one of their scopes, however.There were a couple of choices at the Birdfair: EagleEye, who have an adaptor supposedly specifically for the CP's - but this requires the removal of the rubber eye cup, and if you have a zoom like me, I suspect it will be more difficult to use, as it will twist with the barrel of the eyepiece(perhaps someone can comment). A company called SRB Film service also do adaptors and they are very reaonably priced, they are mostly slip-ons, but they will make a bespoke one to your design if you want!! Websites at the end of this.

    3) For even less shake, a remote shutter release will help. The Nikon one is apparently not as good as the EagleEye one, according to one correspondent, as it is temperamental and costs £100GBP. Personally, I wanted to digiscopeto enhance my birding, and have limited resources, so this one will have to wait for me.

    4) Taking a lot of pictures is important, and having lots of spare memory so the rubbish can be deleted later. One correspondent said that out of 100 shots, he may only get five really good ones. Practising on a bright day with closer, stationary birds will help to get a feel for getting it right. Even practising on inanimate objects will help!!

    With regard to settings, the ones given on the links below are pretty similar, so trying them out in the filed and playing about with them will be the key.

    One debate which seems unresolved is whether to use the macro or infinity function. The idea is that the camera has a fixed focus so that the scope does the focusing. A sensible recommendation came from one correspondent who pointed out that on infinity the focus is locked, but on macro, the camera still tries to focus again on your already-focused bird, so infinity may be the way to go. Other tips are keep the ISO to 100 or 200, and don't go above 2x on the camera zoom.

    Another piece of sound advice is to really get to know the menus in the CP; learn to see what the different functions do when altered, and learn how to change the various settings quickly so that a change in light or other conditions in the field will not stop you getting the best shot. To me, as a non-photographer, there are a hell of a lot of different menus, settings functions etc,. and I'm not used to having to do all the work in getting the photo right!!!

    Other Surfbirds Links

    Digiscoping with Trevor Codlin

    Nigel Blake's Digital Photography Article

    Questions or Feedback?