Steve's Photography Tips: Creating a Cover Image with ImageMagick

Walking Through the Trees

The wooden boardwalk at the William B. Clark State Natural Area near Rossville, Tennessee, winds through the trees, zigzagging back and forth.

The wooden boardwalk at the William B. Clark State Natural Area near Rossville, Tennessee, winds through the trees, zigzagging back and forth. Keep reading to find out how this photo was turned into a cover image using ImageMagick.

Earlier, I had posted a photo of a relatively straight portion of this boardwalk, which was interesting enough. But I also like this very much not straight section, too. In some ways, it looks even more interesting than just a straight section. I am sure that the designers had good reasons for having some sections that were straight and some sections that were not straight. Probably the locations of large trees and low, swampy areas had a lot to do with it.

I also like the fanciful look of this photo as compared to the previous photos. You can read more about that in the “About the Photo” section near the end of this post.

You might not think that a boardwalk through some trees would have very many photo opportunities. But I still have several photos from the boardwalk to share as time goes on!

Cover Image with ImageMagick

Along with resizing and watermarking photos, I usually create a cover image of the photo. In case you have not seen it, here is the cover image for the above photo:

A cover image for this post that was created using ImageMagick

This cover image is used in several different ways. I use it as the “featured image” for this post, which shows up on the main Burnsland page and in post listings throughout the site. I also use it as the social media image that shows up on Facebook and Twitter when the post is linked there. It also serves as the cover image in Apple News as well.

Your requirements for a cover image may vary. Mine look the way they do mainly because of the Apple News requirements, which require text about the post and the site name. The photo is also resized to the appropriate dimensions for Apple News, and those same dimensions work well for the other uses.

All of this can be accomplished very easily with ImageMagick, using a simple batch file (*.bat) as has been described in previous posts. Here is the code for resizing and adding the text:

magick convert *.jpg -strip -interlace Plane -resize "1832x1832^" -gravity Center -extent 1832x1374 -quality 65 -modulate 100,130,100 -pointsize 100 -font Ginora-Sans-Bold -stroke black -strokewidth 15 -annotate +0+0 "Steve's Photography Tips\nCreating a Cover Image\nwith ImageMagick" -blur 20X20 -fill white -stroke none -gravity center -annotate +0+0 %title% -set filename:fname %%t_cover +adjoin %%[filename:fname].jpeg
magick mogrify -path wm -format jpg -interlace Plane -gravity South -draw "image over 0,10 0,0 bl-logo-large.png" *.jpeg
DEL *.jpeg

Some notes about the ImageMagick code:

  • Once again, the metadata is stripped and the photo is converted to an interlaced JPG file, just as before. This keeps the size down. The resulting cover image is only 156 kb, compared with 639 kb for the main resized photo above.

  • The quality is set to 65, which is lower than what I use for basic resizing. I figure a higher quality image is not needed in this case.

  • You can use other fonts, but I like the Ginora font. Feel free to change that to suit your tastes.

  • I often use a larger text size of 130. But for this example, I had lots of words to fit in, so I used a size of 100 instead. I like the text to be inside a square version of the photo because some uses crop it to square dimensions.

  • For line breaks in the title, use “\n”, in case you were wondering what that code is for.

  • You do not necessarily have to blur the background image, but I think it helps the text to show up better. That was actually an accident when I was first experimenting, but I ended up liking it. Plus, to me it adds some mystery to the home page, hopefully making you want to click to see the full, unblurred photo.

As was mentioned above, feel free to change this to suit your tastes and needs. ImageMagick has lots of options and settings that you can experiment with. My way definitely does not have to be your way!

See more ways to improve your photography in Steve’s Photography Tips!

Bible Verse

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. - Ephesians 2:10

About the Photo

As I mentioned, I wanted to give this photo a fanciful look. Hopefully, that was accomplished.

In Aurora HDR, I pushed the color temperature slider way to the right to give everything a golden glow. In the previous photo, I was happy with everything having a green tint to it, especially the tree leaves. But this time around I wanted a golden look.

I increased the brightness a good bit, keeping everything from being too dark. It was getting dark out when I took this photo, but I could recover a lot of detail with the Raw file in Aurora.

I also turned the “Glow” slider up quite a bit, which gave everything the soft-focus, dreamy look that you see here, instead of a hard, high-contrast look.

All of that worked together to create just the look that I was wanting.

Photo: A single Raw exposure, processed in Aurora HDR. Read more about photography tips, photo software, camera gear, and more at Steve’s Photography Tips.
Camera: Sony Alpha A7 II
_Lens: _ Sony FE 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens
Date: July 27, 2019
Location: William B. Clark State Natural Area, Rossville, Tennessee

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Burnsland is Steve Burns, with generous help from his lovely wife Laura. Steve is a husband, father, photographer, webmaster, writer, podcaster, artist, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography, art, and stories through, from the Burnsland World Headquarters in Tennessee.