Screen -v- Print Resolution

Oftentimes friends and family members will post a cute picture of the kids online and when you print the cute picture it's fuzzy and drab. What happened? What now? The key is 'resolution.' The opposite scenario may be the grim looks you get from family and friends (and people who just happen to be in your email address book when you clicked 'forward to all') when you email them huuuuuuge picture files (142 of them) too big to see onscreen without scrolling that take hours to download. More than just birth stories can be TMI (too much information). 😉 Remember, not everyone has broadband or cable connections. Don't waste bandwidth. Lets learn how not to do that. 🙂 In short, your beautiful sharp monitor is capable of viewing images at 72 dpi. That's dots per inch, or pixels per inch (ppi). When you look at beautiful sharp pictures online, that's all they are. 72 dpi. Always. Print images require a minimum of 240 dpi, though the standard number is 300. That's why, when you try to print a 1440 x 960 picture (which fills up your screen) it comes out as a little 4x6 print on paper. If you try to print it any larger it's blurry or blocky (pixelated) and the colors are washed out. If you try to stretch that 72 dpi, it's just not going to work out on paper. Ask for a larger file size for printing from your family and friends, and always ask from strangers online. If you didn't make it with your own camera, you don't own it. Don't infringe copyright and steal other people's work. Most people would be more than happy to share with you for photo credit, or for a modest fee... And that includes those of you who are in school and seem to think 'educational purposes' gives free rein to steal as you please. If it's not yours, ask. Keep in mind, what comes around goes around, and you're not going to like it when it happens to you. 'Art should be free' is all well and good until you're paying your own bills. Ok, off the soapbox. So, when you save a copy of your pictures to email or post online choose 72 dpi, or an image size of around 640 pixels. That's big enough to see details, small enough to not drive people nuts. Usually when I save these copies I will change the name of the file from 'example.jpg' to examplelr.jpg. That 'lr' designation tells me that it's the 'low resolution' copy I've saved of the original art. If I make a 'thumbnail' copy that's only 100 pixels for an avatar or something I will save it as 'exampletn.jpg'. The 'tn' tells me it's the thumbnail. That way it keeps my computer image files organized, which will be essential when you have several thousand images. Newer versions of most photo software (even from your scanner) ask you what you want to do with your images and automatically adjust the size of the of your images to suit, usually by making a smaller copy of your image; but if you never really understand what it's doing and why, you may be mystified as to why your images are the size they are and why they're not printing right. Or you may go looking for the smaller copy that was emailed but not be able to find it because the software didn't actually save that smaller copy it made. There are also 'interpolation' algorithms in many photo editing software programs to increase the resolution of a given image so it can be 'blown up' to a larger size, and there's a trick to making that work out well I'll share in the future. For the most part, start with the largest image you can, and make smaller copies for other uses. Don't forget to save an original copy 'just in case' that you never touch, as we've talked about before. 🙂 So just remember, 72 dpi on screen, 300 on paper. Have fun, and keep shooting!