You may not be a techie... But if you want to publish on the Internet, you need to understand a little about digital images.

Digital images can come from many sources: digital cameras, scanners, the Internet, and photo CDs. But no matter where you get a digital image, the most important question is: Where is this photo going? To an email? the Web? Or printed out for the fridge...

How you share a photo determines how you should prepare it. Anyone who's had their email clog while receiving a digital picture knows the result of someone who'd sent an original, high definition photo, attached to an email. The same principle applies to photos on the Web. Too large a photo can stall the page when it is trying to load in the browser window. Not to mention, I have only a limited amount of space on the web server (the computer in Texas that hosts my Sylvia Lake website). I have to be reasonable in what I can post.

The Technical Stuff

A pixel is a dot of color in a digital image. Digital cameras these days take MEGA pixel images, in other words, pictures with lots and lots of dots which make the picture sharp and clear. But the more pixels, the bigger the size of the digital picture. In this context, "size" doesn't refer to the printed size. It refers to the size of the file the picture creates.

Bigger almost always seems like a better idea- more pixels, more resolution. And if you are planning to print a photo, more IS better. Always shoot pictures at high resolution, with lots of pixels. If you start at a high resolution you can always make the resolution lower. You can't do the reverse and make a low resolution picture clearer.

The size of the picture file is directly related to resolution (clarity) of the photo. More pixels are best for printing, but not for being seen on a computer. Computer screens are only capable of displaying pictures about 72/76 dots per inch (dpi). A picture that is 600 dpi won't look a lot different than one that is 72 dpi.

The important element for displaying pictures from the web is the file size. If you are going to display the picture on the Internet or send it by email, you have to make your picture smaller in file size. So for pictures on the Internet, more dots isn't worth the large file size. The pictures are too big to display quickly. For the Internet, more (in terms of resolution) isn't necessarily better.

So how do you prepare photos to send to this website or post to the Google Group?

Most cameras and scanners come with software that allows you to edit your pictures. But these programs are often difficult to use. If you have an Apple computer, a Macintosh with OS 10.x, iPhoto came with your computer. Other PCs running Windows also have photo editing software. There are even online applications you can use... Google's photo editing software Picassa (for both Macs and Windows computers) is a good example.

How does Shari know so much about this?