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Sunday, April 1, 2007

Big Images From Digital Cameras

Digital Blowup • Lasting Impressions • Size Matters • Put Your Best Print Forward • How Much Space?

Size Matters
Can you explain how to get an image in a standard print size (4x6, 5x7, 8x10) in Photoshop CS2 to print on standard-sized media? I have downsized an image to 4x6 and want to print it onto 4x6 paper. I always get a message in print preview that says‚ "The image is larger than the paper’s printable area; some clipping will occur."
C. DiCarlo
Via the Internet

I’m assuming that the file you want to print has been set to an exact 4x6 inches, which can be done in Photoshop CS2 within the cropping menu. This would mean that you’re trying to print a borderless print. If your printer allows borderless prints, you should ignore the "clipping" message and proceed, being sure to set up the printer driver for borderless printing.

If your printer doesn’t support borderless printing, you’ll need to resize the image to be slightly smaller than the 4x6 media before printing (you also can check "Scale to fit media" in the Scaled Print Size part of the Photoshop Print dialog box). The "clipping" message also will be displayed if you’ve asked for a portrait orientation and the paper is set to landscape, or vice versa. Check to make sure.

Put Your Best Print Forward
At our photo group meetings, we have a print competition. We receive entries with everything from gaudy frames and mats that overpower the images to plain borderless prints lying on tables. Do you have a suggestion for a simple, yet effective way to present prints that isn’t too complicated, extravagant or expensive?
J. Griggs
McPherson, Kansas

I've judged many competitions, and I often see excellent images that are rendered substandard by their presentation. Make no mistake: the presentation is part of the image when it's being viewed and assessed by others. One of the worst errors is brightly colored mats; combine that with a frame that also detracts from the image, and there's little chance that the print's fine points will be appreciated.

My advice is always to mat a print to protect it from the unknowns of the display surface. Mats themselves can become a distraction if they become too complex, as in using several mats within a box frame. Is it about the print or about the presentation? It should be about the print, and the presentation should enhance, rather than distract from, the print.

There are some simple and inexpensive ways to display images in photo competitions. A white, one- to two-inch mat will draw the eyes to just the image and protect it as well because viewers will handle the print by the mat. My favorite simple presentation is to print the image smaller than the paper, leaving at least one inch of white border, with a small, two-pixel black "stroke" (line) surrounding the image from the border.

The print with its built-in mat can be mounted to adhesive foam core. If needed, the print can be placed into a simple black or white metal frame, making for an elegant and inexpensive presentation. If placed behind glass, add a simple mat to keep the print from adhering to the glass. White mats and black or white frames are standard for museum displays of photographs.

My suggestion is that your photo group should invite a knowledgeable person, perhaps a framer, to give a program on methods of presentation. This would serve to influence many of your members. But without guidelines, even simple ones, there always will be those who think that unusual presentation will set their work apart.

How Much Space?
I just switched to digital from shooting slides a few months ago. I know I need to store my images and back them up. What are the best ways of doing this, and how much internal and external hard-drive space do I need?
J. Snyder
Via the Internet

You can never have too much storage space. When buying a new computer, always upgrade to the largest hard drive available. There are a number of hard-drive systems designed to protect you from the loss of data if the drive fails—and it will.

Simply backing up (mirroring) your files on a second hard drive should be enough to protect yourself. The odds of both drives failing at the same time are very low.

One of the options for setting up hard drives is to connect several drives to act as one large drive. In my sad experience, this isn’t a good idea, however: if one drive fails, all the data is lost.

Working between your computer and external drives is tedious, but you need to be consistent and back up without fail. External hard drives have been dropping in price, to the point where last week I purchased a 500 gigabyte drive for approximately $200. For a beginning digital photographer, two external drives of approximately 250 to 300 gigabytes should last for some time and keep your images safe.

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