When I was the editor of Overland Journal, I often needed high-quality images to illustrate articles, but I did not have a large budget for reproductions and use fees, which can add up quickly. Enter the Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Online Collection: an incredible catalogue of digitized images, many of them at a high (printable) resolution that often have no restrictions on use. I’ve spent more hours than I should admit clicking through grids of photos, looking for just the right one to accompany an article or capture the essence of a book. Just today, looking for some inspiration, I happened across this image of a man floating in the Dead Sea. I love the color of the water; it’s very close to the dark aqua-peacock that I used on my new letterhead and business cards (to be delivered Friday!).
This image is available as two small .jpgs or as a 50.9MB (!) .tif. My friends, that size of image is a dream for designing a dust jacket or book cover: it can be run at over 17 by 12 inches, which gives a designer so much flexibility in a layout. Rather than just having it in a square on the bottom half of the cover under the title, the image can bleed off both edges of the cover, onto the front flap and over the spine and onto the back cover. The resolution and size are big enough that you can zoom in on the kooky man with the umbrella, or you can leave it as is with the mountains in the background (though I’d straighten out the line where the lake meets the mountains. Bob Clark has made me keen to notice those slanting horizons.).
In a later post, I’ll show a dust jacket from a couple of years ago that uses an image from the LOC’s photo collection. In the meantime, here’s a link to some photos of the glorious American West from the late nineteenth century: Framing the West.