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Ah yes. this can be quite confusing and frustrating if you want the same effect. check out this guy too:

The thing about danny blackman and web designer wall that makes this possible is that the images are vectors. the both were made in illustrator and when you export a jpeg from illustrator the file size is incredibly smaller making larger images possible.

as for the other site you listed.
that particular background image is 2 colors. the more colors you have, the bigger the files size. so think of each color having to bring along its baggage of information. if you convert a color photo to grayscale the file size goes down.

so while the other site is a raster jpeg the colors are very minimal keeping the image down.

i have a HUGE image on the redesign of my site thats not up yet. you can find the pics in the other forum (digital skraps redesign)

its actually 5 different texture images 4 brushes and about 3 adjustment layers. but bc theres sooo much "grunge" etc i was able to lower the quality down to around 20% before you could really notice bc its gernally dirty anyway. so the "grain" effect you get when you lower jpeg quality ends up looking like part of the image pretty much.

then you have sites like that aren’t too image heavy in terms of design. so he can afford to have a large jpeg and it not kill his site load time bc there arent that many more images that need to load to complete the design.

hope that helps.