My nephew e-mailed me a picture of his son
a while ago. Anxious to see how little Christian had grown,
I eagerly opened the attachment. Suddenly, my 17-inch monitor was filled with two
huge eyes. No, little Christian hadn't grown that much. His dad got a
new digital camera. And although dad read the manual
to learn how to snap the shutter, he apparently
never made it to the chapter on modifying photo size.
So rather than a nice, little snapshot, he'd emailed me
a monster-sized photo.
Considering how many monster-size photos I receive from friends, it seems that a lot of people
don't know how to adjust their digital pictures. The
basics are really very easy. In this article, I give you a
few tips to get started.
To modify your digital pictures, you need to use
a photo editing program. When you buy a digital
camera, you probably received software to help you download your pictures to your computer and
a photo editing program. The editing program that came with my camera is pretty good, but I prefer
to use a program called Paint Shop Pro (PSP). You
can download a one-month trial version of PSP from
http://www.jasc.com/. If you like it, you can purchase the
download for only $99, or $109 if you want JASC to ship you
a boxed CD.
Photo editing programs generally have lots of features,
but the basics are pretty much the same. After you download
your camera shots, open one of the files in your photo editing
program. You should see some size reference.
Notice that in Figure 1, this picture of my friend says
1:4, which means this picture is shown at 1/4 it's
Figure 1. Photo at 1:4
If I were to view that picture in my browser,
it would open at its full size, which is 4 times
larger than it appears here. That would overflow my
screen and be difficult to view. To fix the problem, I'm going to see how
many pixels this picture is and cut the size down to
one-fourth. I choose View|Information in PSP (look
for similar settings in your editing program) and I
can see that the original picture size is 747 x 946
Pixels, or 10.38 x 13.14 inches. Note: A pixel is a unit
of measurement used in computer graphics and is
basically just a tiny square within the picture.
In PSP, I then choose Image|Resize and enter
200 pixels as the new width. I leave "Maintain aspect
ratio" checked, so PSP won't distort my picture. Now
I just click OK.
Figure 2. Change settings.
PSP resizes my picture to be approximately four times smaller than the original. Plus,
the file size has come down from 207kb to 15kb. The
file is now much smaller so I can e-mail it faster.
My friends can more easily download and view
this smaller picture. Notice that Figure 3 now shows
a 1:1 relationship, so you know you are seeing the actual size of
Figure 3. Photo now at 1:1.
It's also a good idea to keep the original picture in its
larger form. If you try to enlarge a small picture, it
won't look very clear, so it's best to keep the larger version and
cut it down when necessary. Therefore, after you resize a
picture, rather than choosing File|Save, choose
File|SaveAs instead. Then be sure to give the new version of the
picture a different name.
Most photo software also has color and light
controls along with various special effects features
called filters. Have fun and experiment with these
controls to see how they adjust your pictures. If you make
a mess, just press Ctrl+Z to undo your changes.
With some software, you can also purchase more filters
to add to the program. For example, for $49, I purchased a set of artistic filters called Virtual
Painter (http://www.jasc.com/products/vpainter/) for
PSP. Figure 4 shows an original picture of my
sister's horse and Figure 5 shows the same picture with
an Oil Color filter applied and a frame added. This
conversion took me about one minute in PSP.
Figure 4. Original photo before applying filters.
Figure 5. The photo with the Oil Color filter applied and a frame added.
After your pictures are adjusted down in size,
you can more easily share them by attaching them to
an e-mail. You also can take advantage of many
free photo sharing sites on the Internet. You can create
a group site at http://groups.yahoo.com and add
photos, or use Microsoft Network's (MSN) free
photo sharing site at http://photo.msn.com. MSN gives
you 30MB of space to show off your photos.
You may also want to print your pictures. Although your photo software can print, you can
easily cut and paste your pictures into a Word
document. (See http://www.computorcompanion.com/LPMArticle.asp?ID=54 for help in pasting pictures.)
In Word, you can assemble many pictures on a page to make the most of your printer paper.
Right-click a picture and choose Format Picture to modify
its size or position. To change the print size, you can
select the picture and drag one of the corner
handles. Whenever you click a picture, Word brings up
the Picture Toolbar that has several useful tools you can use to
adjust brightness, contrast, or cropping.
You can even turn on Word's Drawing Toolbar and use AutoShapes to add text to your picture. (See
Figure 6. A photo with an AutoShape and text added.
Then you can print the document out to a color printer
using special glossy photo paper that you can buy at your local
computer store or http://www.avery.com.
As you can see, it's easy to get hooked on
playing around with your digital photos. And in my case,
I'm going to send a link to this article to my nephew, so
I don't get any more huge eyeballs glaring out from
my monitor at me.