The Crucial Blog

Posted by Juliette Kemp
Juliette Kemp
Juliette Kemp is an established and highly experienced journalist who has written and designed for many of th...
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on Tuesday, 09 April 2013
in Miscellaneous

Size is everything

Submitted photographs . . . . we often have to ask people to supply photographs for our clients' own in-house publications or to be forwarded on to newspapers and magazines for their use, but it's always a little bit of a trip into the great unknown.

Even the simplest of digital cameras can provide perfectly useable images but, at a time when more and more publishers are relying on contributed photos as illustrations, it's only the minority that understand the few basic requirements of that image's format.

And the biggest problem, if you'll pardon the expression, is size. Nine times out of 10, they're too small.

We don't expect everyone to know about picture dimensions, pixels, formats and the like. After all, if you manufacture teapots, why should you? But if you're asked to supply photos of your staff making those teapots to illustrate, say, an article about your company, would it occur to you to do anything other than snap off a couple of images, upload into your photo software programme and send?

Actually, it's perfectly possible to do just that, if you've set a few basic parameters first.

Because we're a helpful lot at Crucial PR, we though we'd publish this guide to help you through that.

This isn't about content, nor are we aiming to circumnaviage the use of any professional photographer - we love working with quality images - but we are in the digital age and contributed images from people of all knowledge and abilities are the norm. If we can help those who don't normally deal with these issues it will save a lot of their time - and ours!

DPI: Pictures' sizes can be measured thus: by their height and width, usually in centimetres, and by their resolution - ie Dots Per Inch (dpi) which relates to the pixels that make up the image. It is best to consider the two together when sizing an image.

For loading onto the internet the general guide is 72dpi as it takes up less memory. Newsprint requires the pixels to be much closer together for a sharp image and therefore a resolution of 250 dpi.

Magazine images, which are even sharper than newsprint require a resolution of 300dpi.

So, here's an image printed in its raw original size and format at 72 dpi.Image at 72dpi

Good size eh? Yes, it's 17cms x 12 (just over). That would be fine for the internet -and you could make it smaller in terms of centimeters and it would still be fine. You couldn't make it any bigger or it would pixilate.

image at 250dpi

HOWEVER The same picture with only its resolution changed to 250dpi sees its centimeter size drop massively to 4.9cms x 3.6cms.AND THAT'S THE MAXIMUM SIZE IT CAN BE USED. Make the photo a couple of centimeters bigger in either direction and it will start to pixilate.

image at 300dpi

At  300 dpi it shrinks again to just over 4cms x 3cms.

So what might look like a good sized image on the internet may actually be only a postage stamp. There are instances where images are of a good size - for example, when they've been posted specifically for others to download - but, generally, a good rule of thumb is to discount anything that's sitting on a website.

Not everybody has software that will give an image's dimensions or its resolution so another good guide is to look at the figure in brackets after its been attached to an email (highlighted,right).file size

Even with this image at 300dpi, you know it's centimetre dimensions are going to be relatively small because the bracketed figure is 160kb. That's fine if the page designer only wants an image about 5cms across - but if they're looking for an image to be the width of several columns, with a starting width of about 15cms, that image, even at 300dpi, won't be big enough.

To ensure the image is going to be big enough for print media, that bracketed figure needs to be 1MB or above. It's not a hard and fast rule, they can vary, but it's a good general guide if you're not sure what you're doing.

THE CAMERA & UPLOADING If you're taking the images yourself, the camera should be on maximum settings to ensure a high resolution. The photos should then be uploaded to a computer and attached to an email directly from where they've been stored on the computer without any adjustment for size, colour or brightness. Just the raw image as uploaded.

EMAILING Send your images through an email programme such as Outlook/Mail/Windows Mail and not through any photo editing software as these can, 'helpfully' automatically reduce them in size for ease and speedy sending and many people don't know how to stop them from doing that or resize them within that software.

If sending a file at a large size means a wait while it leaves the inbox, or you have more than one and they have to be sent one at a time then just grit your teeth - the production people will be very happy at the other end!

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Juliette Kemp is an established and highly experienced journalist who has written and designed for many of the leading dailies and weeklies in the West Midlands, as well as several glossy lifestyle magazines.
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