Virginia USGenWeb Archives

Tombstone Photograph Project

How To Notes for Contributors.

We need your photographs!

Your donation of the Virginia Tombstone photos you have now or take in the future is needed to keep this project growing!

We want all of your Virginia Tombstone photographs. It doesn't matter if you took them because they were kin or if the stone simply caught your eye. We do ask that the engraving on the stone be readable in the donated print or image file.

What information do you need to provide with your photographs?

The only required information is:

  1. The name of the Virginia cemetery and where it is located (Town and/or County) and
  2. Your name and email address for the contributor's credit line.

We would like to have:

  1. Bullet comments with the relationships between the individuals named on the donated headstones if it is not apparent.

  2. Examples:
  3. Location of the headstone (row/block/lot/plot).
To get the required information to us simply add a note to your email with the attached image files or your US Postal Service letter with the prints along with any other details you want to add.

How do you contribute your photographs?

Contributing Prints:

If you don't have access to a scanner or would rather have someone else do the work, mail copies of your tombstone prints along with the required information to me. Just email Rhonda Smith and I'll be glad to send you my mailing address. Your prints will be returned to you. We ask that you include a SASE for this purpose.
 Also, be sure to include your full name, address, and e-mail address on any correspondence.

Contributing Scanned Images and Digital Photographs

There are three ways to get your image files to us for uploading:
1. E-Mail - Attach the compressed image files to an email message to Rhonda Smith along with a note providing the required information. If you chose this method be sure to read the email tips/limits section of this page!

2. US Postal Service - Copy your image files to a floppy or CD and mail it to Rhonda Smith. along with a note providing the required information and a listing of individual tombstone names vs image file name. Note: Many film developers now provide an image CD at nominal cost when your print or slide film is processed. Your CD will be returned to you after you approve the upload.

3. Internet - Upload your images to a temporary "public access" Internet directory you have upload permission for. After the files are uploaded, send an email to Rhonda Smith providing URL of the directory, the required cemetery information, and a listing of the individual tombstone names vs file names. After I download and process the image files, you can remove the images from the temporary directory.

Tips and Frequently Asked Questions:

Email tips and limits:

1. Send only compressed images as email attachments. Your scanner's native BMP or TIFF file is not compressed! Your digital camera image file may or may not be compressed depending on the camera and the options you choose. In either case, JPEG photo image compression is usually provided with the basic photo processing software package provided with your camera or scanner.

2. Limit your email message attachments to a single photo or a group of photo images totaling less than 1 MB per message!

If you have a large number of photographs to send via email, please contact me (Rhonda Smith) before sending them.

General Tips for Scanning/Digital Photographs:

Image Size/Format: Remember the target media for your photo is display on a computer monitor. For most visitors, that monitor will have a viewable display area of 600x400 pixels. However the 600x400 pixel image size is only a rule of thumb! Many tombstone images (the flat V.A. markers come to mind) are quite readable in smaller display formats. Large stones with low contrast or small engraving (Woodsman of the World markers come to mind) are not readable on the monitor at twice the size. I have found the most effective way to deal with the large stones is to provide an overall view (with a reasonable display size) and a close-up view (or views) to provide the necessary detail of the engraving.

File Size and Compression: When I process an image file, my target compressed file size is 50kb. Again that is only a rule of thumb. Some tombstone images are quite readable cropped and compressed to 15 kb. Other tombstone images with larger formats and more detail produce files as large as 150 kb after compression. We must also remember that the JPEG compression standard actually throws away photo information in the compression process. Applying too much compression results in an image with fuzzy text and blurred tombstone details. My personal rule of thumb for "normal" JPEG compression is about 15:1 and I change it as necessary.

Scanner Tips:

Scanner vs Display Resolution: This setting is expressed in dot per inch (dpi) for both media. If you accept your scanner software's default 72 dpi scan resolution for a 3.5 x 5 photograph to be displayed on a monitor, you will wind up with an image that is only about 350x240 pixels. If the original photo was a close-up of a tombstone that had large engraving and few other details, that may be all the resolution that is needed. However, I have found that using 150-200 dpi for the scanner resolution usually provides a better starting point (a displayed image 750-1000 pixels wide before cropping). Your scanner software may provide a separate enlargement setting that can be used to adjust display size instead of changing the resolution.

Small Stones: If the headstone image size is only a small part of the overall print size, scan only the immediate area around the headstone in the print and increase the resolution setting to provide the additional pixels needed for the display. If the headstone is only 2x1 inches in the original photograph, we can set the scanner resolution at 300 dpi, scan only the area with the headstone and produce a clear close-up headstone image that will almost fill the standard 640x480 computer display.

Bottom Line: The more detail in the original scan (consistent with a reasonable compressed file size) the better. We can always throw out pixels that aren't needed in the final image. We can't add pixels without producing a fuzzy image.


I reserve the right to crop, resample and enhance the submitted photographs to help viewers read the inscriptions. Your name will be added to a credit line.

You retain the copyright and publishing rights for your donated photographs except those noted here. By donating, you grant the Virginia Tombstone Photo Project non-exclusive permanent publishing rights to your photographic work. The USGenWeb notice at the end of this page will be posted on the index page linked to your photographs.

This page is maintained by Rhonda Smith your Project Manager.

Return to: Virginia Tombstone Photo Project Page

Contributed for use by the Virginia USGenWeb Tombstone Photo Project ( and by the VAGenWeb Archives Project

USGENWEB NOTICE: These electronic photographs may NOT be reproduced in any format for profit or presentation by other organizations or persons. Persons or organizations desiring to use this material, must obtain the written consent of the contributor, or the legal representative of the submitter, and contact the listed USGenWeb archivist with proof of this consent. The submitter has given permission to the USGenWeb Archives to store the file permanently for free access.