Getting the Picture

In order for the file to work on the Web, you’ll need to change it to a low-resolution file. This doesn’t mean that it won’t look as good. It means that we will be getting rid of some of the information contained in the picture so we can use it on the Web.

Photo resolution is measured in DPI, or dots per inch (or pixels per inch). The average high-res photo is usually about 300 DPI. If we want to use this picture on the Web, we have to get the size down to around 72 DPI.

Professional designers use a program called Adobe Photoshop to change the size of their photos. Unfortunately, this program is very expensive, and not all that easy to use for the inexperienced photo editor. The good news is that there are several programs that will allow you to work with photos without breaking your budget.

MS Paint, from Microsoft, is a handy program that allows you to quickly change the size and resolution of any picture. The only drawback is that it lacks several editing capabilities.

Microsoft Photo Editor is loaded onto almost all PCs, and is the default program for working with any photo on your computer.

Picasa is Google’s online resource that allows you to crop, size, scale, and manipulate your photos as easily as the pros do. You can even add cool effects to the pictures. You can also create online galleries that let you share photos as well.

Cropping

Part of the photo editing process involves cropping parts of the image in order to make the photo look its best. That dark thumb in the corner of the shot, or anything else that takes away from the overall image, can simply be cut out when resizing the photos. Cropping can also change the emphasis of a picture to make it more interesting. A standard shot of a boat on a lake can be cropped to make the water seem more expansive, or to make the sky look more foreboding, or simply to increase focus on the kids enjoying themselves in the boat.

Again, when cropping, try to get as close as possible to the picture’s final dimensions; this will make it much easier when placing the photos in a new Web design, and make it easier for pictures to load into an online gallery.

And again, the time to do all of this editing is before you start uploading the pictures onto the Web site.

Photo Image Formats

Once you get the photos the way you like, and before you upload them to the Web site, decide what image format to use for saving them. Each format has specific uses, and not all are created equal.

GIF (Graphic Interchange Format)

This format is perfect for line art, or any image that does not contain the kind of tonalities normally found in photos. It is ideal for saving art such as logos, maps or line drawings. However, because it can only reproduce a narrow range of tones (256 to be exact), it is not very good for photos, as you will lose some of the image quality. GIFs are ideal for the Web because they produce small files that load quickly and easily.

JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)

The JPEG is the way to go with photos, especially for the Web. Saving as a JPEG image will allow you to retain the overall quality of the image, while reducing its file size. And the smaller the file size, the faster it will load on the Web. JPEGs actually discard certain information contained in the files in order to make the files smaller, so be careful when reducing. It is possible to seriously affect the quality of the photograph when trying to create the smallest file possible.

PNG (Portable Network Graphic)

Less common than the others, this file format is handy because it can reproduce gradient graphic images better then a GIF file can.

So you see, there’s much more to photographs than meets the eye. Making yours look their best is an important part of your marketing materials, both on the Web and in print.

Next time, we will continue this discussion of Web photos by examining the options for posting pictures on your site, and we’ll also discuss the possibilities–and requirements–for using video on a Web site.

Tim Diering is Vice President of Marketing at Summer Camp Design, a full service marketing and design firm dedicated to creating cost effective marketing and design solutions for summer camps. He can be reached at (800) 957-7175, or at tim@summercampdesign.com or visit www.summercampdesign.com .

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Related posts:

  1. Part Two – Getting The Picture
  2. The Three Knows: Part Two
  3. Off-Season Marketing Ideas
  4. Making the Most of Your Web Site
  5. Designing Your Marketing Budget

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