Digital Focus: An Easier Way to PrintTricks to use and traps to avoid; all about resizing.
Feature: An Easier Way to Print With Paint Shop Pro
Good morning, class, and welcome to math for digital photographers. Today's lesson: paper size. Ink jet paper--even the high-quality stuff designed for photo printing--comes in standard letter size, which measures 8.5 by 11 inches. Picture frames, on the other hand, come in 8 by 10. They don't match--and that's been the bane of digital photographers for years.
When you print a photo on a standard ink jet printer, you invariably end up trimming the full-page photo to fit in a frame. I've written a feature on how to do this; see "Digital Focus: Foolproof Photo Printing." However, reader Ralph Grabowski recently reminded me about an oft-overlooked and much easier way to print your photo at a specific size, like 8 by 10 inches. The technique is too good to pass up, since it'll save you a lot of tweaking and nudging during the print process.
Have Enough Pixels
As always, you should start with a digital image that has enough resolution to print at the size you have in mind. For an ink jet, I suggest having the ability to send 200 to 300 pixels per inch to the printer.
So if you want to make an 8-by-10-inch print, your digital file should be no smaller than 1600 by 2000 pixels (that corresponds to a standard 3.3-megapixel image). Anything more than 2400 by 3000 pixels (about 6 megapixels) would be overkill. Not sure how large your digital image is? Load it into Paint Shop Pro and choose Image, Image Information from the menu.
Set Your Paper Size
Now it's time to make sure you have the right paper size selected. In Paint Shop Pro, choose File, Page Setup and select the appropriate paper in the Size menu. If you're making an 8-by-10-inch print, for instance, you'll need letter-size (8.5 by 11) paper. Also, choose Portrait or Landscape, depending upon which way the picture is oriented. If the image is wider than it is tall, you'll want to choose Landscape. When it all looks right, click OK.
Size the Image
Now comes the tricky bit. Ordinarily, you'd next go to the Print menu item, but we're going to choose File, Print Multiple Images instead. If you've never printed more than one picture on a page, you may be unfamiliar with this obscure little feature, but it's perfect for what we want to do.
You should now see a new screen that displays your picture in a pane on the left and a big print canvas on the right. Drag the image from the left onto the page. Then grab the lower right corner of the picture and drag it to resize the image on the page. Note that a small status display in the very bottom right corner of the screen keeps you apprised of the image's exact print size. Using that display, you can adjust the image until it's exactly the right size for printing.
Keep in mind, of course, that you may still need to crop your photo to get it to fit--most digital images don't have the same proportion as 35mm film (on which 5-by-7 and 8-by-10 prints are based) and so you may need to cut away a bit at your picture's length until it's about the right format for 8-by-10 printing.
When you're happy with the picture's position and size on the page, just choose File, Print, and the image will be sent to the printer. That's all there is to it!
Dave's Favorites: Soundbug
This is surely the strangest product that I've ever recommended.
Soundbug is a gadget that looks kind of like a computer mouse with a suction cup stuck on its underside. It plugs into any portable music player and plays music like a pocket-size speaker. But here's the rub: It's not a speaker at all. The suction cup attaches to any flat, smooth surface--like a tabletop, door, wall, or window--and Soundbug transforms that surface into a big, planar speaker by making it vibrate. You can play audio from an MP3 player loudly enough to entertain a small group, with fidelity that rates somewhere between an AM and FM radio.
So why am I telling you all this? Recently, I had something of an epiphany. Away on a trip, I was trying to use my PDA to play a slideshow, complete with soundtrack, for a few friends. The PDA's anemic speaker wasn't up to the task, though, and no one could hear the sound. Then I remembered--Soundbug! I pulled it out of my IPod's carrying case, affixed it to a nearby window, and played the slideshow with audio volume to spare. Soundbug suddenly became the essential portable speaker I've always needed for multimedia presentations. Since I show off images and videos on my PDA pretty often, Soundbug is my new best friend.
Soundbug will never be mistaken for a fancy three-piece multimedia speaker system, and the quality of the sound is directly related to the kind of surface you affix it to. But it costs just $39, and it's the most portable speaker you'll ever find. And if nothing else, your audience will applaud your innovativeness in using it.
Q&A: Should I Use My Scanner's Image Correction Tools?
My flatbed and film scanners have the ability to change aspects of the image (like color and contrast) prior to the actual scan. Of course, it seems more logical to do this in my photo-editing software where I have more tools at my disposal, and I can see what it's doing a little better. Does the pre-scan editing process provide any advantages or should I just scan everything "raw" and fix them in the separate program?
--Brian Lumadue, State College, Pennsylvania
It's odd, isn't it? Most scanners offer to make tweaks to your picture even though you can see the effect only on a tiny little thumbnail view. It would seem to make sense to wait until you can see how the scan came out in a full-screen view within your favorite image editor.
There's a case to be made for both methods, though, and I'll let you decide which is best. While you have more controls and better insight into what changes actually look like if make them an image editor, many changes will be more precise if done when the image is scanned.
Why, you ask? Because the image is sampled more accurately within the scanning program, with far more bits per color. The more bits you have, the more accurately any given color can be represented. (Consider the fact that an 8-bit image can show any one of 256 colors in each pixel, but a 16-bit image can show any one of 65,536 colors in each pixel.) More bit depth also contributes to better highlights and shadows.
Many scanners sample images with as many as 48 bits per pixel, for extremely high color fidelity. (Make sure that the scanner stores the scanned color depth; many inexpensive scanners scan at a high color depth, like 48-bit, but can only store at a lower level, like 24-bit.) Performing a histogram adjustment with billions and billions of color choices allows the scanning program to do a really bang-up job of tweaking your photo. As soon as the scanner spits the photo into your image editor, though, most of that extra color information is stripped away and you're left with a standard JPEG or TIFF image, which can't hold nearly as much color information. Edits to these images will be inherently less accurate.
Do all those extra bits make much of a difference? Sometimes--it depends upon the image and what you plan to do with it. To see for yourself, try it both ways and decide which way works best for you.
Hot Pic of the Week
Get published, get famous! Each week, we select our favorite reader-submitted photo based on creativity, originality, and technique. Every month, the best of the weekly winners gets a prize valued at between $10 and $100.
A gentle reminder, folks: We disqualify some really wonderful pictures every week because the submissions don't follow the rules. Be sure to include everything we ask for in your e-mail message, including a description of your picture and your complete contact information, or your entry is wasted!
Here's how to enter: Send us your photograph in JPEG format at a resolution no higher than 640 by 480 pixels. Entries at higher resolutions will be immediately disqualified. If necessary, use an image editing program to reduce the file size of your image before e-mailing it to us. Include the title of your photo along with a short description and how you photographed it. Don't forget to send your name, e-mail address, and postal address. Before entering please read the full description of the contest rules and regs.
This week's Hot Pic: "Sunrise Takeoff," by Lawrence J. Murphy, Eatonton, Georgia According to Lawrence, these six geese are taking flight during a misty sunrise on Lake Oconee, Georgia. The picture was taken with a Pentax Optio 330. "I took the picture from my kayak," Laurence says, "and thus was able to get very close before the birds were spooked."
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