With today's digital cameras producing photos in the 4, 5, or 6 megapixel range, it may come as a surprise to someone who makes their first attempt to email a photo or post a photo on the internet that these images are WAY too large for any purpose other than making prints. When emailing or posting a raw photo from a digital camera, users are likely to be met with errors, data transmission problems, or time-out loss of connections, causing frustration and confusion as to why their photos won't work properly. If you are planning to post an image on the internet, it MUST be reduced in size before it can be used. A good final size for an internet photo at normal video resolution might be a mere 480 by 640 pixels, which is less than one-third of a megapixel, or about 20 times smaller than the photo your camera produces. This tutorial will show how to reduce the size of your photos, using the software you already have on your computer, to allow pictures to be added to your internet posts. Reducing with Photo-Editing Software By far, the best way to reduce the size of a photo is to use dedicated photo-editing software. The Granddaddy of all photo-editing software is Adobe Photoshop. Although expensive, Photoshop offers the best tools available for image manipulation. If you have Photoshop, by all means, use it to edit and reduce your photos. (However, if you have Photoshop on your computer, you probably do not need this tutorial to tell you how to reduce a photo.) Many people may have photo-editing software that they do not even know about. If you bought a digital camera, it probably came with a CD that has a photo-editing program on it. If you bought a scanner, or a printer-scanner combination, it probably came with free photo-editing software. You may even have a "light" edition of Photoshop, which might have come bundled with your scanner. If you have photo-editing software, I urge you to use it (before using the Paint program I have outlined below). You will obtain much better results and will have greater freedom if you use a dedicated photo-editing software program. There are several FREE photo editing programs that you can download if you so desire. One of these is GIMP, which is a versatile photo editor written in open source software, which means it is completely free, and has no ads or spyware. GIMP has features comparable to Photoshop and has tutorials on its website as well. You can read about GIMP and download the software at http://www.gimp.org/. Another freeware program for Windows is IrfanView. This program is simple for beginners to learn but includes some powerful features. You can read about and download this program here: http://www.irfanview.com/ I do not have any personal experience with either of these programs, but from what I have heard, they seem to be extremely useful, not to mention real bargains! In any photo-editing program, the basic steps for reducing a photo would be quite similar. 1. Open an image. 2. Go to Image > Image Size... 3. Change the Pixel Dimensions to a smaller number (600 or so for the longest dimension), making sure the "Constrain Proportions" box is checked, as well as the "Resample Image" box. 4. Make sure you are satisfied with the new image size. If not, UNDO the action and try a different pixel value. 5. Apply the "Unsharp Mask" filter to the new smaller image to sharpen the detail. 6. Go to File > Save As... and choose JPG (low quality) and save with a new file name to protect your original high-resolution image. If you are using Photoshop, replace the final step with File > Save for Web... which will give you the option of adjusting the quality of the JPG compression with real-time feedback on file sizes and image quality. This is a very powerful tool for concentrating large photos in small file packages. Of course, any time you reduce the size of a photo you will be losing some resolution and detail. So make sure you always save the original (unaltered) photo file in case you want to make a print, or if you wish to resize again. If you do not like the resized version of your photo and you want to resize again to make it larger or smaller, make sure you start over and use the original photo file. If you resize a photo more than once, the quality will deteriorate. For more complete instructions on how to crop and reduce a photo using photo-editing software, see Tutorial: How to Create and Upload Your Own Avatar. Reducing with a Photo Hosting Service If you use a photo-hosting service, such as www.photobucket.com, they will have specific instructions for reducing photos to post on the web. Check with the service for their instructions, which may be in a tutorial or in their FAQ section. As I mentioned before in another post, if you are serious about posting photos on the Forum, you probably will want to establish a free account with a photo-hosting service, as it will give you much more freedom in your photo posting options. See Tutorial: How to Add a Photo to a Post for more information on this. Reducing with Windows Paint Program If you have read all of the above, but don't want to install or download any new programs, and you have a photo that you want to resize RIGHT AWAY so you can post it without learning any newfangled programs or going on-line, then here is a step-by-step procedure that anyone can follow. Again, I want to emphasize that if you have photo-editing software, you will have the tools to do a much better job than with the Paint program. The Paint program is not good for adjusting color and contrast, or improving the quality of your images. It does not allow for the selection of the amount of JPG compression to best suit your photo. This is simply a down-and-dirty method for reducing the size of a photo if you don't have any other means to do it. 1. Begin by opening the Microsoft Windows Paint Program. Click on the "Start" button, select, "All Programs," select "Accessories," and select "Paint." 2. The Paint program should open with a blank canvas. From the top of the menu bar, choose "File" and then choose "Open...". 3. Locate your picture image in the file menu box. You may have to click and navigate through your folders to find where your picture file is located. If you happen to have saved it to "My Documents," then click the "My Documents" icon in the left of the menu box and find the folder file your picture image has been saved to. Select the picture image you want to reduce and click it so that the file name shows in the lower "File Name" box and then click "Open" button, or double-click to open the image. 4. Your picture image should now show up in the Paint program window, although it will probably be too large for you to see the entire photo. In the example above, we can only see the upper left-hand corner of the photo, which is the ear of a whitetail deer. 5. The first step in reducing the photo is to see exactly how large the picture is in pixels. Click on "Image" and the "Attributes" to open the information panel. 6. Within the Attributes window, make sure the Units: "Pixels" button is checked. Make a note of the size of the photo. In this case, the width is 3024 pixels and the height is 2016 pixels. Click OK to close this window. 7. From the Paint menu bar, click "Image" and select "Stretch/Skew." We now need to calculate approximately what percentage we will use to reduce our photo. Since the original photo is 3024 pixels wide, and we want to reduce it to around 600 pixels wide, we will use 20% as our value (because 3024 x .20 = 605.8 ). 8. In the Stretch portion of the window, enter 20 in both the Horizontal and Vertical percent value. These numbers must be the same or you will distort your picture. Click OK to apply the transformation. 9. Your picture should now be reduced to the actual size you will use on the web. If you are unhappy with the size, and want it a little larger or a little smaller, UNDO your last transformation and repeat steps 7 and 8 using a different percentage in the Stretch value. 10. If you are satisfied with the size of the photo, check the reduced size of the picture image by choosing "Image" and the "Attributes." In this case, the new image size is 605 x 404 pixels, which is ideal for posting on the Forum. If the picture is not the desired size, you must start over from Step 1 until you achieve the desired size. Don't try to change the attributes settings in the boxes or the picture may be degraded or become disproportionate. 11. Now you need to save the new smaller version of the photo without overwriting the original high-resolution image. This way your original files will remain intact, in case you want to make prints or resize the photos again. From the Paint menu bar choose "File," "Save As..." and navigate to the folder where you wish to save your web images. You may want to create a new folder specifically for your resized pictures for the web. 12. You can change the file name of the picture if you wish in the "file name" box and make sure the "Save as type:" is set to JPEG (*.JPG, *.JPEG, *.JPE, *.JFIF). Then click the "Save" button after doing so. That's all there is to it! You can now upload the photo from your computer to a post in the Forum using the "Attach" function, or you can host the photo elsewhere on the web and use it in a post with the "Insert" function. This is explained in detail here: Tutorial: How to Add a Photo to a Post. Good luck. Have fun. I look forward to seeing your new photos on the Forum.