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Tech Essentials: Photos that Look Great

Shaley Degiorgio explains how to make sure your pictures look great in print

The next time you forward an image to your communications person or a magazine editor, have a heart. Even though publication professionals often can make something wonderful with very little raw material, they can’t create a story where there isn’t one, and they can’t publish a beautiful centerfold image from the thumbnail you pulled off the Web.

Resolution Basics

Pixels per inch (ppi) are a unit of measure. Simply put, this unit defines how much color data is crammed into each inch of your digital image.

  • On the Web, an image can look clear even if it has a very low resolution; a Web standard is 72 ppi.
  • To  print, an image would preferably be 300 ppi or more. In rare instances, you may get away with 150 ppi; however, 72 ppi looks hideous.

Here are 2-by-3-inch pictures displayed at the same screen size. Image A is 72 ppi and B is 300 ppi.

The difference is obvious.

Nong Kindavong of Kham Phout Farm sells local goods at the Mahiku Farmers Market at Benjamin Parker Elementary School in Kaneohe.

Photo: Courtesy Shaley Degiorgio


Always start with high-resolution images, because it’s easy to make an image smaller, but often impossible to make it larger. Low-resolution images look fuzzy and pixilated when you enlarge them, because they lack any color data for previously nonexistent pixels.

To demonstrate, look at this example. On the left, we start with a magnified look at a black and white, 2-by-2 pixel image. 


Then, we use Photoshop to double the image size to 4-by-4 pixels. Photoshop uses the original black and white-colored pixels to approximate color for the new pixels. The intention is to mimic the nearest pixel colors, so that the image retains smooth color transitions as it’s stretched to a new larger size. The results, however, introduce coloring nothing like the original image.

Tips for Image Resolution

• At a minimum, invest in a point-and-shoot camera for photos you plan to use to market your products and services. A great shot taken on your camera phone may be just that – great on your camera phone, possibly great at a small size on the Web, but making it work in print will be a stretch.

• Always set your digital camera to take the largest size photos it can. If you can only take a few pictures when your settings are high, then invest in more memory. With the price of memory cards so low these days, there’s no excuse.

• Don’t try to force high-resolution images on the Web. Scale your images down. Low-resolution images load faster and are appropriate for mobile technologies such as tablets and smartphones.

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Hawaii Business,August