> Here's a prototype I was working on:
> http://code.markhuot.com/image_trick/
So you're saying you want users to see
no javascript: 4 drawers with 4 images loaded
javascript: 1 drawer with 1 image loaded then load more images as the 
user scrolls

One way would be to test on the previous page to see if javascript is 
enabled. If enabled, load html with one image tag and dynamically create 
new image nodes when the user scrolls.  If disabled, load html with all 
image tags.

Your onDOMReady solution, as you say, is not able to change the DOM 
before the browser requests the image; the browser initiates the image 
http request right when the img tag is parsed so there is no way to 
prevent the browser from loading an image source that is in the html.

Again, if it is important to have full functionality with javascript on 
or off, you might consider loading a new set of thumbnails via a link.  
It is arguable easier to use than a scrolling div.

I'm picturing a Javascript Carosell.  It has probably been done in 
Prototype SAU somewhere, but here is one in YUI:


The left and right scroll controls can be setup to be normal links that 
load a new page for those with javascript disabled.


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