Stein Collectors International, Inc.
~ Putting Your Best Foot - or Stein - Forward ~
by Ginger Gehres
Figuring out who made your steins or what they are worth is a popular use of SteinTalk. One problem which arises is that of posting pictures and describing the stein as accurately as needed in order for other collectors to recognize it. The following is a set of steps that should allow persons to get a better idea of what you own... and then can let you know what it's worth.
SCI offers the SteinTalk as a public forum for those who are interested in steins in all of their aspects. SCI is not responsible in any way for the content posted by users of this forum. Appraisals are opinions, given by people who frequent the site. The fact that these opinions are posted publicly helps to assure their sincerity, but not their accuracy, and respondents cannot be held liable for their opinions. It is advisable to get an appraisal from a professional appraiser for insurance and sales purposes, especially for significant items.
How To Best Describe Your Stein
The best way to get a good "handle" on what kind of stein you own is to describe it thoroughly. Describe more than just the obvious pictures and sayings around the side of the stein. Make note of the top, the bottom, the marks, the numbers, the handle and anything else you see. Like a good detective novel... the more clues, the better guess at "who done it." Need help on learning what part of the stein is what? Take a look at the article in the SCI library, The Anatomy of a Stein. It points out the specific names of the various parts that make up a stein. You'll be sounding like a pro - or at least better understood - in no time!
Pictures Tell the Tale
Obviously, pictures help tremendously. Photos of all sides, the top, bottom, handle and inside are all extremely important. Get close up. Those far-away, fuzzy photos don't do any justice to your story. You may need a special lens or a zoom feature on your camera to get the best picture.
Ok. You've taken a picture of your cherished stein and then find, to your dismay, that there isn't a slot to shove the photo inside your monitor. Now what??
Let's go "Digital"
You could opt for borrowing or buying a digital camera, use video capture or scan in your photo. You can also take your roll of film from your good, ol' trusty "regular" camera and have digitized CD's sent to you. If you're on AOL, you can have them e-mailed directly to your account! Confused about what's best for you? Here are a few explanations to help you judge for yourself, the option that best suits your needs:
For the most part, a digital camera walks, talks and "quacks" like a normal camera. The main difference is that it stores the image in digital pixel format instead of exposed film. To "develop" the images, you either plug into your computer with equipment required by the camera's manufacturer or the camera stores it onto a disk that can be read by your computer. Some kind of software program is needed to "read" and edit these photos. Advances in digital cameras and lowering costs have made this a popular trend. Older digital cameras had problems with "ghosting" images (known as registration problems in television terms) and green or orange undertones.
If you prefer, you can opt for a video capture device (hardware and software) that captures images on VCR tapes. This requires a good computer to handle its offerings in a satisfactory manner. This option also requires a bit of techno-knowledge to keep you from going crazy. If your are comfortable with graphics programs, this is good. If you are a novice, be prepared for a large learning curve.Scanners
Scanners come in all flavors and sizes. Some scanners require you to insert your photo or document into it. The scanner then processes the image as it rolls through the machine (not great for Polaroid film and delicate photos). Other scanners look, and act, like a small photocopier. These are called flatbed scanners and are usually the easiest to use. They also are the kindest to your original documents and photos as they are just laying on glass instead of rolling through the scanners' internal workings.
Prices have dropped drastically on some really nice scanners. This happens to be the option that I use most. I can scan a photo (taken by a regular camera), document or even place a stein directly on the glass (be careful to keep from scratching the glass). Holding the stein still can be hard to do, especially if you have the shakes!
One other thing a good scanner can do is OCR. This means "Optical Character Recognition." In simple terms, OCR software allows you to scan a text document in as actual words - not a photo! This is a pretty cool option that is usually over 90% accurate in conversions. Anyone who hates to re-type text will love this feature.
CD Digital Art and E-Mail Photos
There are a number of options that you can choose for receiving your photos pre-digitized on CD. This can be a great choice with nominal costs. There are companies online that offer to digitize your photos and send them back to you. Even your local copy center and one-stop photo developers offer digital formatting of your photos. This is, by far, the easiest way to get your photos digitally formatted. Keep in mind, that you will still need to edit your photos in your computer. This will require some kind of software in some way or another.
Another very convenient aspect of digitized images is that they can be attached to e-mail messages and sent to your friends or anyone you want to have see your photos!
Whatever medium you use... digital camera, video capture, scanner or service provider... online "photo" images are normally posted at 72 dpi (dots per inch) in JPG (pronounced "jay-peg") format. It's not necessarily important that you understand the tekkie stuff behind it... but it is important to know to ask for it (or choose it in your software). There are many other options that you could choose (gif, pict, etc.) but a JPG at 72 dpi is basically the best... and clearest.
Editing Your Photos
Once you have your photos, editing the orientation, size and shape of them is important, too. Because every pixel takes up computer information, the bigger the photo, the slower the download to view in user's web browsers. No one likes to wait to see pictures. Some are worth a little longer wait, but getting rid of extra background space and unnecessary resolution information can sure help the viewing process. Your photographic imaging hardware usually comes with software that allows you to alter your images. If you do not have any, there are many programs that can be used. Even some browser editors have small programs that let you format your pictures into web format. Some programs to consider could be Microsoft's Picture It!, PaintShop Pro, Adobe's PhotoDeluxe and the larger, professional program PhotoShop (this one has a higher learning curve, but for professional use, it's well worth it). You might even find a free, shareware program you like on either the Tucows or Shareware site
Some things to keep in mind...
How To Post Your Photos and Text Online
Okay. You've gathered together great digital photos and a complete explanation your stein. It's time to get it posted on a web page. There are many options for that one, too.
Most ISP's (Internet Service Providers) offer free web space for their members. Most often, it's 2MB or more. Check with your provider to see if you have web space at your disposal. The most common way to post your pictures is to use a process called FTP (File Transfer Protocol). Your service provider most likely has a tutorial on how to transfer your files to your personal web space. You can upload just the .jpg file (or files). Or you can make an "html" web page that holds your information and all of your photos on one page.
See example 1( JPG file of a single photo) and example 2 ( an HTML page showing a photo-composite and sample stein description).
Don't want the hassle of editing your own pictures? Other options for posting your photos are using hosting services or some of our local SCI members' services. For web hosting service ideas, you can check out Photo Bucket or Google's Picasa Web Albums . There are many more to be found by using a search engine to find what you're looking for. SCI is not affiliated with and does not support or sponsor any of the above listed services.
Linking To SteinTalk.
If you have successfully uploaded your photo to your own personal web space, or hosting source, the next steps are fairly easy.
You need to know the URL (Universal Resource Locator) of the web page(s) you created. The URL is just the address that tells the computer where to look for your stuff. A map, of sorts, in the great expanse of the internet universe. The URL could look like this: http://www.hostname.com/myusername or http://members.hostname/myusername or even http://www.hostname.com/~myusername.
To add your photos to SteinTalk, add the link to your site in the "POST" section of your request. To do this, you need to type something in like this (of course replacing the following name with your file name:
Finally, post your article, refresh the screen and see if your links work. If you are having problems, please contact the webmaster for help in troubleshooting the problem.
That's it! It is a lot to learn at first, but once you get the idea, this is actually an easy, fun and great way to showcase your items!