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Element K Journals’
Digital Photography Skill-Building Series
Prepare &
Print, email, and publish on the Web
What’s inside …
• Preparing your digital images for easy emailing
• Prepping your digital images for the Web
• Get better auction results with quality digital images
• Get the quality prints you want from low-resolution images
• Know your options when selecting photo-quality
inkjet paper
• Plan your prints to save photo paper
• Get the best print by choosing the right photo printer
Preparing your digital images
for easy emailing
by Stephen Dow
mail has made sending digital images
through the Web a convenient method
of sharing images. While simply attaching an image to an email and sending it
couldn’t be easier, you should always prepare
your digital images properly before sending to
make sure your intended viewer can enjoy them
without difficulty. By optimizing the dimensions
and file size of your image while following some
email etiquette, you can make the process as
effortless and enjoyable as possible.
First thoughts
When prepping your images, be considerate
of the person on the other end of the line. Not
everyone has a high-speed Internet connection
and a 21-inch monitor, so you’ll want to optimize your images so they can reach the broadest audience. Think about how they’ll access the
image when they open your email message. Will
it automatically appear? Will they need to open
another application to view it? By understanding how to send your images efficiently, you can
take steps to make it as easy as possible for them
to receive and view your images.
Step 1: Resizing the image
The first step when prepping an image to be
emailed is to resize it. Many other variables,
such as file size, start to fall into place once you
reduce the size of the image. As shown in Figure
A, most images sent via email appear after the
body of the email, or open in a separate window
once clicked. By keeping the image dimensions
smaller than the screen size, you can avoid forcing the viewer to scroll. Instead, your image will
be shown in its entirety, and your recipient can
see the whole image instantly. Reducing the
dimensions of the image also has the added benefit of reducing file size, which allows the image
to load more quickly.
If you know the dimensions of your recipient’s monitor, you can always target those
attributes. However, most of the time you won’t
know, or you’ll want to send the image to multiple recipients with different setups. The best
policy is to resize the image to a reasonable
dimension for all monitors. Most Web designers
plan on a “lowest common denominator” space
of 640 pixels by 480 pixels when making a Web
site, but this would be overkill for a single image
(8.8 x 6.6 inches). We’ve always had success sizing our images to 5 inches wide (360 pixels) and
letting the height display proportionately. This
offers a good-size image that won’t need to be
scrolled, even on the smallest monitor.
You’ll also want to make sure that your
resolution is set for 72 dpi. While some monitors
display at higher resolutions, a vast majority
use the 72 dpi standard. If you save for a higher
resolution, the browser or email application in
which your image is viewed is going to display
the image at 72 dpi anyway, interpolating the
excessive resolution by increasing the dimensions of the file. This is a classic case of jumbosize images that require scrolling, so make sure
you save your images at 72 dpi and your images
will display as you planned.
You’ll also want to ensure that your image
is in the RGB color mode. This shouldn’t be too
much of a worry, as most digital cameras save
to an RGB format. However, if you’re shooting
in the RAW file format, you’ll want to make
sure you convert the image to RGB before saving. Images saved in other color modes won’t
display correctly in most email applications.
They can be downloaded by the recipients and
Figure A: Make your image small
enough to fit on the recipient’s screen
without having to scroll.
Prepare & Share: Print, Email, and Publish on the web
opened in an image-editing application, but
again, your goal is to make it as easy as possible
for them to enjoy your image.
Note: If your users want a higher-resolution
image for printing, let them request it. Sending the high-resolution file every time will
waste time and fill up their email accounts.
Step 2: Making image
The next step when prepping your image is to
make image adjustments, such as color balance,
contrast, and saturation. There are differing
schools of thought on when you should do your
image editing—before or after you resize? If you
select before, you have more image information
and resolution to work with, but you might have
to readjust the image once it’s resized. As for
making adjustments after you resize, you’ll only
have to make one adjustment, but you’re working with less image information, so fine-tuning
the details might be more difficult. We usually
like to make our image adjustments before and
make smaller adjustments after. It might take
a little extra time, but it generally results in a
better-looking image.
One of the adjustments we typically make
after resizing an image is to sharpen it slightly.
When an image is resized, edges and lines get
fuzzy due to the interpolation and the image
can look “soft.” By sharpening a bit, you can
make your images look crisp and allow details
to stand out.
Note: Due to the different color palettes of
the operating systems, an image viewed in
Windows looks slightly darker than the same
image viewed on a Macintosh, as shown in
Figure B.
Step 3: Saving the image
Now that your image is properly sized and
adjusted, it’s time to save this version to your
hard drive. Never save over your original
image! Always save the email version as a
new file and even in another directory. We’ve
seen too many people save over the highresolution version of their image by mistake.
While they can still view the image, you can
forget about making decent prints out of the
low-resolution version. We keep a separate
folder called Email Images in which we save
all of our prepped images. Not only does
it decrease the risk of writing over the original, but it also keeps all of our prepped images
together for easy access.
Naming your image
When saving your image, it’s best to follow some
simple naming conventions. Keep your filenames
simple and descriptive. Avoid long titles with spaces
like Here’s a picture for you.jpg. While your Windows
machine might not have trouble with it, your friend
with the iMac might not be able to open the file.
The best policy is to follow the old 8.3 naming
convention, that is, eight characters followed by a
three-character file extension. Our title would be
much better as pic4U.jpg and will give your users
the least amount of trouble. You can make
your title longer than eight characters, but
avoid using spaces and special characters
such as asterisks and dollar signs.
Figure B: Due to color palette restrictions, the same image will
look slightly different on the Windows and Macintosh operating