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E-mailing photos, Part 2 (12/05/2004)
By Tom Hirsch

Okay, you have your original picture on the computer, and you've made a copy of it in the TIFF or BMP format. You've named it Mountain 1, and made all the necessary modifications. With the modified image on the screen, again go to File, Save As..., and return it to the JPEG format (this is important for e-mailing the photo). Now you have the same photo in three different formats: the original JPEG version, the enhanced quality TIFF or BMP, and again in a JPEG format which will be modified for sending as an e-mail image.

The reason for modifying the final image is to compress it down to a size that will help to speed it along the Internet, and still retain enough detail that it will look good on the recipient's screen. If it were sent in its original JPEG format without modification, the quality would not be there, and if it were sent in its first modified form, TIFF or BMP, it would take 96.5 minutes to transmit. Well, maybe not quite, but it would take a long time. Plus, the image would be much too large to fit on the addressee's screen. The recipient would have to look at the photo in sections.

The first modification you'll want to make in the new JPEG format is to lower the resolution. In Photoshop Elements 2, you would go to Image, Resize, Image Size... then change the Resolution to 72 pixels/inch. This could vary from program to program. For example, pixels/inch might be dots/inch, ppi, or dpi.

Before leaving the Image Size box, look at the Pixel Dimensions number at the top. For transmission, it should be less than 100K. Chances are, it's way above that. An easy way of modifying it is to play around with the width or height dimension, whichever is greater. Just highlight it, and change it until the Pixel Dimensions number is just under 100K. When you have all the numbers in the proper range, click "OK."¯

One result of reducing the image size is that the sharpness is also decreased. Some compensation can be made for this by sharpening the image. All photo-enhancing programs provide ways of sharpening an image. The easiest way is to go into the filter program and just click on "¯Sharpen."¯ A possible problem with Sharpen is that there might be no way of controlling the degree of sharpness.

A more controllable way of sharpening your pictures, if your program has it, is with the Unsharp Mask. In Photoshop Elements, go to Filter, Sharpen, Sharpen, Unsharp Mask. For the various settings, enter Amount 150%, Radius 0.5 pixels, and Threshold 0 levels. These are good starting points for low-resolution JPEG images. You might find other numbers more suitable to individual pictures. When you're satisfied with the sharpness of your image, click "OK."¯

Now's a good time to recheck your settings. Again, go into Image, Resize, Image Size, and verify that the Resolution is still at 72, and Pixel Dimensions is less than 100K. If the settings have changed, you might need to do a little tweaking. When the adjustments have been made, click "OK."¯

Before sending your photo on to its e-mail destination, you'll want to rename it so you can identify it as the one to e-mail. Go to File, Save As..., and just add an e (for e-mail) to the file name. Henceforth, that picture will be known as Mountain 1e.jpeg.

Now your picture is ready to e-mail.

With a little experience, making the necessary adjustments to your photos will come naturally to you. Not only will you be able to send pictures out as you get them, but you will also be able to store up in advance the shots that you think you might want to send our someday.

Just a note of information. I always use the Unsharp option on my best images, those manipulated and saved in the TIFF format. But because they are saved at a high digital level, they should be saved at a high percentage level. I've found 190% works well for me. Other settings are the same as those mentioned above, but I might use a higher or lower pixels setting, depending on the image. 


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