Please Note: Because the National Scenic Byways Program is no longer funded, FHWA is no longer soliciting grant applications. Without funding for the Program, FHWA will not be moving forward with another round of designations of America's Byways® at this time.
The National Scenic Byways Program (NSBP) wants to make sure that its online digital image library includes media-ready photos for all designated byways. In particular, NSBP needs photos that:
This document provides guidelines for providing NSBP with electronic images and tips for creating media-ready photos.
If you are nominating a byway for designation consideration, please note that photos play a very important role in the application process by visually supporting your byway's Intrinsic Quality(s) and conveying the overall visitor experience to persons reviewing your application. Because the number of photos you can provide in the application is limited, it is important to choose high-quality photos that tell your byway's story and set travelers' expectations.
In general, travelers look for engaging photos that are pleasing to the eye and illustrate the character of a byway. As they browse the photos on the NSBP travelers' website at America's Byways, they can download their favorites, save them as background images, add them to their screen savers, and use them for a variety of other purposes. They can even send photos as electronic postcards to friends and family. However, since travelers typically only view photos on a computer monitor, they don't require extremely large, high-resolution images.
The following guidelines will help you prepare your photos in an electronic format to submit as part of your nomination application so they can be easily added to the NSBP digital media library.
IMPORTANT: Once an image is compressed with something less than the highest possible quality setting, data is lost and cannot be recovered. The image's sharpness and colors could be permanently damaged making it useless to media professionals.
Create high-resolution images - The size of the image should be at least 7" in the longest dimension when printed at 300 DPI. In other words, the longest dimension should be about 2100 pixels. If you take a beautiful picture at the low 640x480 resolution, it will only be about 3" x 1.5" when printed at 300 DPI - which is less than half the size of a common snapshot.
Resolution: The quality of any digital image, whether printed or displayed on a screen, depends in part on its resolution - the number of dots of color used to create the image. The higher the resolution; the better the detail and the sharper the edges.
Dots Per Inch (DPI): DPI is a measurement used to control the printing or display of an electronic image. As the name suggests, it is how many dots are in a linear inch. It is independent of the total number of dots of color used to make of the image and doesn't directly affect the image's quality. Images printed at anything less than 300 DPI can look grainy.
Use a high-quality digital camera or scanner - In terms of total pixels, a 5"x7" picture at 300 DPI would be approximately 3.1 million pixels. So, a 3.1 mega-pixel digital camera is capable of taking a 5"x7" picture with significant detail. Anything less usually can't.
In terms of storage space, a typical JPEG image of this size, saved at the highest-quality/lowest-compression setting could easily be 2.5-4.0 Megabytes (MB). Note: do not confuse pixels with megabytes. Although the two are related, they don't mean the same thing.
Put images in the public domain - The NSBP prefers that the images submitted to the Digital Media Library be in the public domain. Traveler writers and media professionals look for pictures in the public domain for so they can use them readily without a lot of extra work. If you submit copyrighted photographs, please make sure that:
A common mistake in writing alternative text is to describe the image itself. It's not important to your listeners that you put an image in the visual version of the page; for any number of reasons, they can't see it. Instead, they want to hear what you were trying to convey by putting it there.
Composing meaningful alternative text descriptions for your photos can be difficult as it will be used as a replacement for an image, unlike a caption, which always accompanies an image. Please do not use captions as a substitute.
Here are some tips from Wikipedia for composing alternative text descriptions, an example of a photo with an alternative text description, and some examples of how they may be used.
Here's an example:
A traditional caption for this photo would be "An Intrepid Photographer at Boynton Overlook." However, an alternative text description might read, "A photographer stands poised on a rocky overlook in Utah to capture a perfect view of the Escalante Canyons."