The Web Site

The Photo Galleries web site for the Turning Club has evolved over the last two years.

This blog details how it got to its current state of evolution.   I’m sure that it will be mainly of interest to those who are thinking of doing something similar…

Summary.

  • The site photos are processing using Adobe Lightroom 3 (recently Lightroom 4) and sometimes enhanced using Adobe Photoshop CS5.
  • The website itself utilises a number of plug-ins for Lightroom 3 – these are provided by The Turning Gate (TTG)
  • The body of the site – its layout and all the site Navigation buttons is provided by TTG CE2 Pages, supplemented by TTG Monoslideshow for some ‘mini slideshows’.
  • The photo galleries are created using either TTG CE2 Highslide Gallery or TTG CE2 Photoswipe Gallery
  • The hierarchy of the galleries is controlled using TTG CE2 Auto Index.
  • The BLOG is a new facility which uses WordPress, integrated into the site with TTG CE2 Theme for WordPress.
  • Recently two very good tutorials/articles about this approach to web site creation have been produced – Beginners Guide to Websites using TTG  and Rod Barbee’s Blog on getting started.

Mid 2009 – I have about 1500-2000 images taken at the Turning Club. I was reading a book on Lightroom 3 by Martin Evening. Very few people publish photos to the web – he suggested an add-on for Lightroom by a company called The Turning Gate. (TTG).

I already had Virginmedia broadband at home –  with 250MB of free web space.  I had been tinkering with Microsoft’s Expression Web and had put a few tentative photos up on my Virginmedia webspace.

The other “tool” needed is a file transfer program (ftp) – I used “Ipswitch File Transfer WS_FTP” – for the PC – this is used to transfer the things for the website between your computer and the server of the website – i.e. my PC to my Virginmedia account.  It also invokes setting up a ftp account with your service provider – a very simple process.

So I decided to go for it.   The ‘body’ of the website is created using TTG Pages. This gives all the “Site Navigation” things shown on each page of this site.  You simply have to complete the details to customise it the way you want it.  Available free are a number of templates.   All work is done within Lightroom – exclusively – it is not for any other program.   The process was pretty straight forward. Each Navigation item page – Contacts, About, Contributors can be changed to meet your own requirements and text and pictures are added as required.

I use another plug-in – TTG Monoslideshow for the pictures in Contributors, About the Club and Contacts – in particular this provides the zoom effects which can be seen on these pages.

All of the photos selected for a Photo Gallery are assembled in Lightroom in a Collection (of photos).  These are then processed using a second plug-in from TTG – namely  TTG Highslide Gallery.   In the ‘Web’ menu  option of Lightroom you select this plug-in and follow the process through from top to bottom.  In it you add information about the Gallery you are creating and select various appearance options.  Select the Export option and Lightroom creates a self contained folder which you will place on your web site – in the Galleries folder which gets created by TTG Pages (or in a TTG Auto Index folder – see later).

Repeat this process to create and add other Photo Galleries.

I tried it and around Oct/Nov 2009 had the first version of the web site up and running on Virginmedia.

It quickly became clear that with all the photos I had – the 250MB size limit of my free Virginmedia webspace was going to be too small – there was no option to expand it.

Looking through my photo magazines I decided to go for my own website using 1and1.co.uk  – –  I registered geoffhawkins.me.uk late in 2010

As I had to rebuild the site I spent a little time with Photoshop and created the mult-pictured page header and page background images and re-built the site.

More and more photo galleries have been added to the site since early 2010.

August 2011 – I decided to get an iMac.  Lots of new things to learn , new jargon, some different software.   The Lightroom photos were all brought into the Mac environment.

By late 2011 there were about 45 galleries.   One o the features of the website program was that it would work with mobile phones and tablets as well as desktop computers.

However, when Apple brought out the iPhone 4 they introduced a new operating system IOS5 – as users switched to this the iPads and iPhones would no longer show the TTG photo galleries properly.

An update to the TTG add-ins was introduced in Nov/Dec 2011 and all of my photo galleries had to be reworked.

Christmas 2011 – TTG introduced a major upgrade.   Almost at the same time Adobe announced the Beta of their next issue of Lightroom.  TTG plans had to be amended and different solutions found…  This required a complete rebuild of the web site and every photo gallery.   There were some bugs.  One meant that users of Internet Explorer 8 (Windows XP users?) could not properly view the photo galleries.  It took a while to sort out this bug.

So with the software finally stable, January saw me rebuilding the site again.  I didn’t like the first attempt too much.   Up until then all of the photo galleries appeared on a single page under the Galleries tab – all 45 of them.   I used another TTG plug in – TTG Auto Index.  This has enabled a more structured approach with a limit to the number of galleries on a page.  The result is the current layout where 2010 Galleries, Early and Late 2011 galleries, Names to Faces, and the Most Recent photos each contain around a dozen photo galleries.

For those interested in adding photo galleries to their own website – TTG Auto Index can be used as a stand alone facility.

Perhaps the biggest change to the program was the introduction of the BLOG.     Up until now the site was just about photographs and photo galleries.

Suddenly, with a BLOG, the site is much more complex.   It requires the installation of a website generation program called WordPress with an associated database program MYSQL.   Deeper into Geekland – I got a development environment – a program called MAMP Pro (MacIntosh, Apache, MySQL and PHP).   This enables my iMac to behave like a web site – this means that things like Blogs, changes to the site layout etc can be dealt with entirely on the home computer – and when OK moved to the web site.   Lots of hours needed on one of my favourite Learning websites – Lynda.com – to find out ‘ just enough’ to make use of  the computer applications I have referred to.

The BLOG adds a new dimension to the site.  At the simplest level a blog, like this one, is simply a question of typing text.   The next stage is to start adding photos – and then finding out how to get them to appear how you want them – centre align, right aligned with text wrapping etc.    This is done within WordPress – the home program of the Blog.  It goes without saying that there is a learning curve – how to get photos side-by-side, how to convert Word or pdf files for use in the blog.

The journey continues …

So how does the latest set of photos get there?

Once the Collection of the photos wanted for the current week’s gallery has been put together – elect the WEB option in Lightroom and from the options for the type of output select TTG Highslide Gallery.  (many other options are also available).

Another preset helps here – this will add the header graphic, the background image and various standard bits – my name, copyright etc.

Next I have to go into creative mode and decide on the words which describe what this gallery is about – as seen in Latest Galleries – and then a further more detailed description seen when the Gallery has been selected.

The way the Photo Gallery will appear can be seen in the Lightroom Preview.

When happy with it – press Export.    A folder of files is created.   This folder can contain 5-15MB of data – all to be uploaded to the web site using the FTP program where they go into the “Latest Galleries” Auto Index folder.   Job done.

The technical part of this takes about 5 minutes – finding the words for the creative part can take a lot longer…

I then make up a small Collection of those who brought things in for display this week – add captions – and export this to sit under the Contributors tab.

Should anyone have got to the end and still be interested in finding out more – the following links can be recommended.           Beginners Guide to Websites using TTG  and Rod Barbee’s blog on getting started

 

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