Resizing digital camera images is a simple skill that is well worth learning as more and more photos are shuffled around the Web. When set to the highest resolution, standard digital cameras capture images at file sizes of roughly 3MB. Attach a couple of these whoppers to an email and you could lose friends fast.
Some tools for resizing photos are built into the operating systems of Windows and Mac computers. Others are included in software such as Adobe Photoshop Elements and free online photo-sharing services.
First, however, it is important to understand a few basics that will crop up as you resize photos.
•Digital cameras, by default, save images as JPEG files. This is also the standard for images on the Web. When you are emailing or posting a photo, aim for a JPEG file size that ranges from 50-100KB. This will ensure that the image downloads (and uploads) quickly.
• When resizing photos, always save the resized image as a copy, or use another file name, so you do not overwrite the original. If you want to print photos later, you'll get far better results with that high-resolution file.
• Those who use add-on photo editing programs such as Photoshop Elements will encounter a couple of other terms: Constrain Proportions and Resample. The Constrain Proportions option prevents your photo from being stretched and distorted as it is resized. Resample enables the software to recalculate and modify pixel dimensions.
• To resize an image in Photoshop Elements, open the photo and click Image>Image Size. After ensuring that Constrain Proportions and Resample Image are checked, change the resolution to 72, then enter a value in the pixel-dimension size box—the other value will adjust automatically. For instance, enter a width of 800 pixels to resize a 3MB photo to a size of roughly 100KB. To make it smaller, click Save and move the Quality slider bar towards Smaller File.
If you do not have stand-alone image-editing software, don't worry. You can resize images using programs that came with your computer.
•In Windows Vista, double-clicking a photo opens it in Windows Photo Gallery, unless you specify otherwise. An easy way to resize a photo is to email it from Photo Gallery. Open a photo and click the email icon, and the program will provide four resizing options, plus the choice to maintain the original size. Windows uses generic descriptions such as "small" to denote resolutions (600x400 pixels, for instance) and an estimate of the photo size. A 3MB photo resized to “small” yields a file that’s roughly 75KB. After you click attach, the program opens your email program and adds the image to the message.
• Alternatively, you can right-click on a photo file and then select Send To>Mail Recipient, and the software will create a new email message and attach the photo. To share multiple images, depress the Shift key while selecting them.
Vista includes a nifty option in Windows Photo Gallery that enables you to quickly consolidate photos into a movie. To do so, click Make a Movie, add a handful of photos, then select Publish Movie>email. The photos will be saved as a movie file and attached to a new email message. Add music and titles if you like, but if you don't want the fuss, you can fire off a dozen photos using Movie Maker in less than a minute.
• Windows XP also does the right-click trick, but it is a little stingy with the options, offering only three sizes. A free download from Microsoft (www.tinyurl.com/2jvah) provides a little more flexibility. The plug-in offers four size options, and also lets you enter pixel dimensions for height and width. It doesn't have an option to constrain proportions, however, which means you need to be careful to enter dimensions that avoid distortion.
• The gotcha is that these options work only with Outlook, Outlook Express and Windows Mail. If you use browser-based email, such as Yahoo Mail or Gmail, the process of uploading and attaching photos will require a few extra steps.
©2008/The New York Times