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Author Topic: Confusion with Station Pictures Back to Topics
TheIG

Rookie Author
New Jersey

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Message Posted: Aug 3, 2014 12:48:18 AM

Many of the station pictures posted are lower res images taken on the fly.

Some of them are shot from poor angles.

The app confirms that the images I have uploaded, have been received by GasBuddy servers. My images are all high-res full feature images, which tend to display as much of the facility as possible, with as many details within the image as can be nicely made to fit in. The images I upload are also all taken from the best position on location while outside of the vehicle, and never just as a "drive-by" type of image showing some random logo sign with gas prices.

Yes it does take a little longer for me to get out of the vehicle and find the right on-site location, just to ensure that a great quality full image of the entire facility is properly snapped and a confirmation of the upload has taken place. I truly think that taking the time to do this actually is helpful to some of the other GasBuddy App and Website users.

I have yet to see any of my station images actually show up at all. Am I just wasting my time trying to be as detailed and precise with station details and images?

Does GasBuddy HQ consider me an unknown quantity, even though I have been in the system since 2008, but only become truly active recently?

Also... Do the station details and amenities also get wiped out as often as the gas prices themselves. That would seem to be a very bad idea, if erasing the details and amenities 'auto-clear' every few days, as these types of things do not change from week to week or even month to month (usually).
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bimmergary
Sophomore Author Virginia

Posts:142
Points:766,180
Joined:Mar 2009
Message Posted: Aug 8, 2014 11:20:59 PM

CK, none your links are clickable; is everyone using the 'Insert Link' to the left of the reply box?

I think a lot of it may be due to the probability that phone pics older than 2012/13 are likely to be from devices with poorer cameras and less resolution. The image upload date is a fair indicator of age. A lot of other factors include out of focus, lighting, framing, etc.

I've replaced a few bad ones myself just using my smartphone, not saying I'm a pro but they're a lot more usable. Make sure to take landscape shots, and through the website set the best Front Exterior as the new main and report bad ones for deletion. You don't need to save changes if photos are the only change, because the change has already happened.


[Edited by: bimmergary at 8/8/2014 11:27:51 PM EST]
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scoutmaster
Champion Author Pittsburgh

Posts:98,346
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Message Posted: Aug 8, 2014 10:50:13 PM

I'm not so sure key= is the image creation date. Not every image has a key value.

[Edited by: scoutmaster at 8/8/2014 10:50:22 PM EST]
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DavisSta
All-Star Author San Francisco

Posts:791
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Message Posted: Aug 8, 2014 9:28:29 PM

Interesting analysis, CampKohler. I learned the hard way to "never use the image URL in a link intended to last more than one day" as you advise in your factoid 2. I didn't realize that the key= parameter in the URL was an indication of the URL's creation date.

I think that there's probably less mystery than you imagine as to why "why some [images] enlarge (as DavisSta's did) and some don't." I presume that the reason some images don't enlarge is that they are already being shown at the highest resolution that is stored on the GasBuddy servers. It's not available at a higher resolution either because of the resolution of the camera that took the photo or because GasBuddy compressed it when it was originally uploaded.

For your first example Auburn station the highest resolution image stored on the GasBuddy servers (http://images.gasbuddy.com/FetchImage.ashx?key=rz5vatJWJoFxwgSqolR7LA%3d%3d&id=8JWjaUCZX6P2Ve8Mbgxpo89mgBCEILzSbaIN9m4MPUWCT5t1J8R6Cw%3d%3d) appears to be 600 x 450 pixels, and the photo displayed in the MSL before clicking is already at 600 x 450 and so cannot be further enlarged. In your second example Auburn station, the resolution stored on the GasBuddy servers appears to be 800 x 600 pixels, so this image can be expanded a bit from the MSL page by clicking, but not a lot. In my example, the GasBuddy servers have a copy of the image at 2592 x 1944 pixels, so one can get a much higher resolution image by clicking. (In fact, 2592 x 1944 pixels is greater than the resolution of today's typical computer monitor, so in most browsers after clicking on the image in the MSL and getting to http://images.gasbuddy.com/FetchImage.ashx?key=rz5vatJWJoFxwgSqolR7LA%3d%3d&id=kmSXrjKPHRT%2bwMfa7j%2b8XwXqcoemBrjR7Q46x5RsGkXMiZHN1uIzQQ%3d%3d, or whatever the URL for the day is, the cursor will turn into a magnifying glass, allowing one to zoom in still further on a portion of the image by clicking again.)



[Edited by: DavisSta at 8/8/2014 9:33:08 PM EST]
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CampKohler
Champion Author Sacramento

Posts:13,219
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Message Posted: Aug 8, 2014 7:31:41 PM

After some testing, it appears that clicking the MSL station record photo does not always go to full screen; sometimes it enlarges somewhat and sometimes it does not enlarge. As the URL for the unclicked and clicked images are the same, there is some factor at work here that I don't understand to results in full screen for one station and not another.

Auburn station photo URLs (one pix):

Station Detail page small size:
(None - there is only one photo, so no thumbnails here)

Station Detail page medium size:
http://images.gasbuddy.com/FetchImage.ashx?key=rz5vatJWJoFxwgSqolR7LA%3d%3d&id=341DcprJ8JpfyVPwvegZJxU6SueJ2Ev9uqzcgFpokM6J%2bfpeYkkObQ%3d%3d

MSL Station Record page small size:
http://images.gasbuddy.com/FetchImage.ashx?key=rz5vatJWJoFxwgSqolR7LA%3d%3d&id=K%2b8kMA86sMRgtexJY4jspG%2f1HQ8iUlXmQBi4nkxCrbV%2fP3zQWP4pjw%3d%3d

MSL Station Record page med size
http://images.gasbuddy.com/FetchImage.ashx?key=rz5vatJWJoFxwgSqolR7LA%3d%3d&id=8JWjaUCZX6P2Ve8Mbgxpo89mgBCEILzSbaIN9m4MPUWCT5t1J8R6Cw%3d%3d

MSL Station Record clicked, but did not enlarge:
http://images.gasbuddy.com/FetchImage.ashx?key=rz5vatJWJoFxwgSqolR7LA%3d%3d&id=8JWjaUCZX6P2Ve8Mbgxpo89mgBCEILzSbaIN9m4MPUWCT5t1J8R6Cw%3d%3d

----

Auburn station photo URLs (several pix):

Station Detail page small size:
http://images.gasbuddy.com/FetchImage.ashx?key=rz5vatJWJoFxwgSqolR7LA%3d%3d&id=qq8bRcW0160ST%2fWRnMIAK0YS1ijS5OJpiwF75jkWgAZbDAcvZWEvag%3d%3d

MSL Station Record page small size:
http://images.gasbuddy.com/FetchImage.ashx?key=rz5vatJWJoFxwgSqolR7LA%3d%3d&id=IG0otRgQb9O5OZ6PrwYXUZVK%2b2cN8uByi7qyvuZBOMbDvt1f75rnqg%3d%3d

Station Detail page medium size:
http://images.gasbuddy.com/FetchImage.ashx?key=rz5vatJWJoFxwgSqolR7LA%3d%3d&id=opRIBhQNJGaWl27jm46rFxpRg%2b7PgQbaLkMWySkNVId%2fNiLNLBmQeg%3d%3d

MSL Station Record page med size:
http://images.gasbuddy.com/FetchImage.ashx?key=rz5vatJWJoFxwgSqolR7LA%3d%3d&id=8nTwIpIy80eHk4B1qWa3wZFVAURjzpIXGPSdwx%2fiRgCQhaXSaIoqFA%3d%3d

MSL Station Record clicked, enlarged, but did not go full-screen:
http://images.gasbuddy.com/FetchImage.ashx?key=rz5vatJWJoFxwgSqolR7LA%3d%3d&id=8nTwIpIy80eHk4B1qWa3wZFVAURjzpIXGPSdwx%2fiRgCQhaXSaIoqFA%3d%3d

----

DavisSta's station photo URLS (several pix):

Station Detail page small size:
(None - there is only one photo, so no thumbnails here)

MSL Station Record page small size:
http://images.gasbuddy.com/FetchImage.ashx?key=rz5vatJWJoFxwgSqolR7LA%3d%3d&id=n0q%2fFswCmDbyNDJnZzDAgKKxu4uuEkBIdiBWec0Pq0xTFi%2bteUuwIQ%3d%3d

Station Detail page medium size:
http://images.gasbuddy.com/FetchImage.ashx?key=rz5vatJWJoFxwgSqolR7LA%3d%3d&id=ZvrEIMwbJyUWwFJwDDFFWZgLIMdgnVWkcHxaSb8jw1Wj6un77cEbFg%3d%3d

MSL Station Record page medium size:
http://images.gasbuddy.com/FetchImage.ashx?key=rz5vatJWJoFxwgSqolR7LA%3d%3d&id=kmSXrjKPHRT%2bwMfa7j%2b8XwXqcoemBrjR7Q46x5RsGkXMiZHN1uIzQQ%3d%3d

MSL Station Record clicked full-screen:
http://images.gasbuddy.com/FetchImage.ashx?key=rz5vatJWJoFxwgSqolR7LA%3d%3d&id=kmSXrjKPHRT%2bwMfa7j%2b8XwXqcoemBrjR7Q46x5RsGkXMiZHN1uIzQQ%3d%3d

----

Notice that the last two URLs are the same. Thus the same image is used for the medium MSL image and any enlarged image. I just don't know why some enlarge (as DavisSta's did) and some don't.

Factoids:
1. There are four or five sizes of pix produced by URL as used on sites, depending on whether there is only one or several Station Detail photos. There could be five for all of the stations, but you just don't see the small one on the Station Detail page if there is only one photo. (Whether there is only one size and each URL reduces/enlarges or there are actually four sizes, I don't know).
2. All images have a KEY parameter unique to the day of creation. The image's key is checked against the current day's key, and if they don't match, it won't serve except in a normal GBO page with all the surrounding stuff (photo controls, ads, etc.) So the URL by itself is only good for one day; thereafter it must be viewed through a normal GBO page. So never use the image URL in a link intended to last more than one day; instead use the GBO Web page's URL.

[Edited by: CampKohler at 8/8/2014 7:34:33 PM EST]
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CampKohler
Champion Author Sacramento

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Message Posted: Aug 8, 2014 5:42:16 PM

Thanks for that. I never new that clicking the pix would bring up a full-screen version, because the photo albums (which is all GBO photos I am familiar with) won't—you always have the album controls, ads, etc. around the photo.
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DavisSta
All-Star Author San Francisco

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Message Posted: Aug 8, 2014 6:11:56 AM

TheIG,

My experience with posting photos directly from my my Android phone is that the images can be highly compressed by GasBuddy. It seems like they compress them more now than they used to, although I'm not sure how they decide how much to compress and whether it has anything to do with speed of one's internet connection (mine is pretty slow from my phone). To get the image onto the GasBuddy web sites at a higher resolution, I connect my phone via its USB cable to a PC and upload the images through the PC using the full web site.

Also, as you have noted, even if you manage to get a high-resolution image onto the GasBuddy servers, the station detail pages (such as http://www.newjerseygasprices.com/Mobil_Gas_Stations/Upper_Saddle_River/55909/index.aspx) do not allow you to view the photo at the full resolution. In order to do that, you need to go into the master station list, which you can now do since you now have more than 10,000 points. (One way to get to the MSL page for a station is to click on the "Update Station Features" or "Upload Station Photos" links from the station detail page.) Once in the MSL, you can zoom in to full resolution by clicking on a photo, which will open a URL beginning http://images.gasbuddy.com/FetchImage.ashx?. For example, click on the photo in this MSL entry to see a high-resolution image.

[Edited by: DavisSta at 8/8/2014 6:12:26 AM EST]
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TxJeans
Champion Author Tampa

Posts:7,593
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Message Posted: Aug 4, 2014 7:56:43 AM

I've used the photos before the C/C to look and see if there was a "Cash" hang tag visible on the price sign.
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CampKohler
Champion Author Sacramento

Posts:13,219
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Message Posted: Aug 4, 2014 1:41:09 AM

IG: Because they have to serve all the photos every time a station detail page is viewed in the app, they are naturally going to compress the snot out of it. They could improve things by requiring the user to ask for photos, in which case they could serve them on demand. They could do this by serving a thumbnail, which when tapped would bring up the photo album for the station. That way you could have the best of both worlds.

GB: If I was GBO, I wouldn't have bothered with the station photos function either. It could be that another site was doing it and they had to fall in line not to seem backward, but I don't know. There couldn't be a crying need for users to verify that they were at the correct station by comparing photos with the station itself. It seems silly to devote all that drive space and bandwidth for photos when everyone wants various new station features and reporting/searching functions. Go figure.

[Edited by: CampKohler at 8/4/2014 1:42:11 AM EST]
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TheIG
Rookie Author New Jersey

Posts:6
Points:187,875
Joined:Jul 2008
Message Posted: Aug 3, 2014 11:49:14 PM

bytebug,

Greetings!

I can *confirm* that images posted from the app itself out in the field (at least the Android version noted elsewhere in this thread), do (now) in fact show up both on the website as well as the app itself. We just need to give the process a few minutes in order to propagate onto the designated GasBuddy servers -- after snapping the picture(s). They just (currently) show up as grainy low-res images -- heavily compressed.

Regards,
TheIG
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bytebug
Champion Author Orange County

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Message Posted: Aug 3, 2014 10:45:53 PM

I don't believe it has ever been possible to post photos from the apps. I've only ever done it from the full web site, and they show up immediately.
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Gas_Buddy
Champion Author Maryland

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Message Posted: Aug 3, 2014 3:28:09 PM

CampKohler:

"Perhaps you need to have 10K points to post station photos..."

Unless they've made changes to posting requirements for the Master Station List (where the pictures are apparently based), a member needs a minimum of 10,000 points (i.e., what used to be called "senior status") before photos could be added to the website.

With a little more effort in points earning, TheIG should be able to answer his own question in as little as three days.

Personally, I'm not sure how helpful the photos are "to a mobile app user traveling in unfamiliar territory....passing through an area that I am not familiar" if a member "could 'see' at-a-glance, the station I was searching for" compared compared to knowing the station name and location. Location/address are permanent; station names generally non-changing; photos are directional and I (personally) don't see value in looking at a series of photos to determine if I'm stopping at a gas station, even if I'm not familiar with the area. But that's me.
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CampKohler
Champion Author Sacramento

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Message Posted: Aug 3, 2014 11:42:18 AM

This suggestion has been added to the Suggestion Tracking List as a new topic (now that I understand that it is about improving photo resolution).
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TheIG
Rookie Author New Jersey

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Message Posted: Aug 3, 2014 4:11:12 AM

CampKohler,

I would like to thank you for your quick, thoughtful, and point-by-point well detailed response to my questions/comments.

>> "That is a possibility. Perhaps you need to have 10K points to post station photos (although this situation is typically stated by an error msg if that is the case). Let us know in 4 or 5 days when you have the points if you can successfully post photos. If you still can't post then, it would be time to PM a moderator."

I just re-checked both the website as well as the GasBuddy Android App.

The app seems to now display the added images which had not shown up earlier. I am currently using GasBuddy v4.2.2 on a Samsung Galaxy Note 3 running Android's KitKat flavor v4.4.2. Image uploading is via the Sprint Network's 4G LTE or available Wi-Fi (802.11n) signals in the area, of which I have found many. This flavor of mobile cellular throughput is consistent and very good to excellent around the geographic areas in question.

Uploading for long periods of time does not present a problem, as I am using a 10,000mAh long life battery on the Samsung Galaxy Note 3. Need to charge it only once every 5-6 days. I knew that the images were/are reaching the GasBuddy servers (no error codes yet), as I also upload to Dropbox all day long.

The camera that comes with this "phablet" has a native resolution of UltraHD 4K for stills as well as video. I use the 16:9 aspect ratio all the time.

"The 13MP camera is good for photos of up to 4128 x 3096 pixels in its native 4:3 aspect."
Source: /samsung_galaxy_note_3-review-996p9.php>

All of the stills I take with this camera are set to 4128x3096.

Too bad that at least the BasBuddy website (if not he app itself) does not provide the option to view/zoom into the original size images. Only greatly scaled down low-res views are available for viewing. It is probably an issue with space on the servers used by GassBuddy. Also the lack of widespread high bandwidth/throughput on many devices currently in use I am sure is a considering factor to the IT folks that run the GasBuddy image servers.

Within the app environment, it is much more important to be able to see what is there before stopping at the station(s). This lack of a high-res image issue becomes much clearer when you pull into a facility far from home, and you begin to feel less safe as the seconds tick along after getting out of the vehicle. How an establishment is maintained speaks directly to customer safety -- especially at night.

Even on the website the images are very compressed. :-(

>> "On iPhone, you can just swipe the image to the left to see more images (if present) that are residing to the right."
The same procedure can be done on Android in the same manner.

Example 1: 5th image from the left with all the pumps in a row...
/Mobil_Gas_Stations/Upper_Saddle_River/55909/index.aspx>

Example 2: 2nd image from left with pumps and store...
/Exxon_Gas_Stations/Ramsey/23959/index.aspx>

Example 3: 2nd image from left with pumps, store, and logo 'lollipop' sign...
/Hess_Gas_Stations/Ramsey/23962/index.aspx>

Example 4: 8th image from left showing 90% of the establishment...
/Pilot_Gas_Stations/Mahwah/23952/index.aspx>

Example 5: 3rd image from left, again with most of the establishment in view...
/Valero_Gas_Stations/Mahwah/21349/index.aspx>

Example 6: 2nd image from left with most of the facility within view...
/Mobil_Gas_Stations/Mahwah/23945/index.aspx>

Example 7: 4th image from left again I feel gives strangers to the area the best view, and thereby a better level of comfort *before* they pull into an establishment that is unknown...
/BP_Gas_Stations/Mahwah/23942/index.aspx>

I hope that I have been able to detail my thoughts in a manner that GasBuddy may be able to use this information to offer full-res images, or at least to improve the percentage of compression going forward.

Regards,
TheIG
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CampKohler
Champion Author Sacramento

Posts:13,219
Points:2,100,380
Joined:May 2007
Message Posted: Aug 3, 2014 2:47:23 AM

>> "...unknown quantity...?"
That is a possibility. Perhaps you need to have 10K points to post station photos (although this situation is typically stated by an error msg if that is the case). Let us know in 4 or 5 days when you have the points if you can successfully post photos. If you still can't post then, it would be time to PM a moderator.

>> "I have yet to see any of my station images actually show up at all."
Have you tried posting to the full site? Maybe it is an app problem. Speaking of which, what version of which flavor app do you have? Are you taking these "hi-res" photos with the phone, or do you use a separate camera? If the latter, how do you go about it exactly? Perhaps you can identify one station (by brand, address and ID number) where you have uploaded so that we can look at it.

>> "...no way for a mobile user...to scroll through subsequent images...."
On iPhone, you can just swipe the image to the left to see more images (if present) that are residing to the right.

>> "...details and amenities also get wiped out...?"
No. There is no "auto-clearing" that I know of.

It has been suggested before here that there be facilities for managing station photos (deleting, rearranging, etc.), but so far, no joy.

I would experiment with the photos, but the system (except for the forum) are down at the moment.



[Edited by: CampKohler at 8/3/2014 2:51:50 AM EST]
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TheIG
Rookie Author New Jersey

Posts:6
Points:187,875
Joined:Jul 2008
Message Posted: Aug 3, 2014 1:17:39 AM

Just to clarify...

What I mean is that the mobile GasBuddy App appears to only show an older image (perhaps the first image ever) of the station. In other words, there appears to be no way for a mobile user to be able to scroll through subsequent images using the mobile app -- even if other 'newer' images might be of more help to a mobile app user traveling in unfamiliar territory. I know that if I were passing through an area that I am not familiar, it would surely be a big plus if I could 'see' at-a-glance, the station I was searching for by scrolling through the images affored to the website users. Just a suggestion.

Thank you for your patience in advance.
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