Monday, December 19, 2005

Quick Digital Photo Tip - Fixes, Photo Sizes and Aspect Ratios.

When I first got my digital camera I talked a lot about the Beauty of Mega-Pixels and how more is better. However, as I prepare for upcoming Hanukkah celebrations and pictures, I wanted to share another little digital tip that I have picked up. Typically, with a good ol' film camera, when you go to develop a standard roll of film, you get a set 4"x6" photos. This 'standard' photo size was carried over to the digital age, and you can easily find 4"x6" photo paper, as well as order such sized prints from photo sites like Snapfish, Shutterfly, and Kodak Gallery. Of course the beauty of digital photos is that we only need to print the 'Keepers' (and we can also blow them up and/or put them on a mug, apron, deck of cards, etc.) and we can either discard the others or preserve them in slide shows and on websites for years to come.

What this means is that people tend to take photos indiscriminately with digital cameras. So to all of those who will find a new digital camera under the tree, menora, or whatever else your family sticks their gifts under, here are some quick tips:

  • The more pixels you have in your pictures the more space they take up. In theory, a 6 Mega-Pixel image will take up about twice as much space as 3 MP one. While the 6MP one will give you much greater detail, the 3MP will give you an excellent photo at 4x6 or 5x7 - and even a good photo at 8x10 if you don't edit it much. If you reduce your camera's MP mode for most shots, you will be able to take a lot more pictures. One thing that I have done (incorrectly) in the past, is shoot at the higher resolution until I get short on space. The problem with this is that when you want to take a detailed closeup at the end, you may not have enough space. It's better to pace yourself throughout.

  • A 4x6 photo has an aspect ratio (the ration of width to height) of 1.5 (i.e. it is 50% wider than it is tall), but most digital camera modes have an aspect ratio of 1.33. This means that when you print a digital picture on a 4"x6" print, the picture will need to be cropped. Bear this in mind when taking shots so that you leave a little bit of space between people or items you want in your picture so that they are not flush against the top or bottom of your picture.

  • Some cameras (I know that my camera as well as other sony models) have a great feature that combines the first two tips - A 1.5 aspect ratio mode that shoots at reduced megapixel size. (Sony calls this 3:2 mode. On my camera its 4.5 MP, which gets me about 10-15% more pictures on a 512 MB card).

  • From the professional photographer to the snapshooter. Everyone knows that for every good photo you take there are plenty more that just don't come out right. Fortunately for you, in today's digital age, it is easier than ever to correct a lot of those mistakes in an otherwise good shot (like that great picture of the kids that would otherwise be ruined by little Jane's red eyes). To edit photos, I use Picasa from Google. It has a great set of simple to use tools for editing, organizing and sharing photos and it works well with most of the popular photo sharing services around the globe. One of my favorite features of Picasa is that it keeps your original photo intact and only stores information about edits you make. This way, if you screw up editing, it can easily get you back to the original.

Happy Holidays to one and all, and may all your pictures be good ones.

1 comment:

Yonah said...

one true (MdG),

My pleasure. It seems like everyone has one, they take millions of pictures, but don't know what to do with them.

I am nothing more than a techie who likes taking pictures of his kids, and imparting some of the tricks I picked up along the way.