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Resizing Photos

If you’re more familiar with resizing scanned images, you’ll find that resizing images from digital cameras is a bit different, primarily because scanners create high-resolution images (usually 300 ppi or more), but the default setting for most digital cameras usually produces an image that is large in physical dimension, but lower in ppi (usually 72 ppi). The trick is to decrease the physical size of your digital camera image (and increase its resolution) without losing any quality in your photo. Here’s the trick:

Step One:

Open the digital camera image that you want to resize. Press Ctrl-Shift-R (Mac: Command-Shift-R) to make Elements’ rulers visible. Check out the rulers to see the approximate dimensions of your image. As you can see from the rulers in the example here, this photo is around 41x62″.

Step Two:

Go under the Image menu, under Resize, and choose Image Size to bring up the Image Size dialog. In the Document Size section, the Resolution setting is 72 pixels/inch (ppi). A resolution of 72 ppi is considered low resolution and is ideal for photos that will only be viewed onscreen (such as web graphics, slide shows, etc.). This res is too low, though, to get high-quality results from a color inkjet printer, color laser printer, or for use on a printing press.

Step Three:

If we plan to output this photo to any printing device, it’s pretty clear that we’ll need to increase the resolution to get good results. I wish we could just type in the resolution we’d like it to be in the Resolution field (such as 200 or 240 ppi), but unfortunately, this “resampling” makes our low-res photo appear soft (blurry) and pixelated. That’s why we need to make sure the Resample Image checkbox is turned off (as shown here). That way, when we type in the setting that we need in the Resolution field, Elements automatically adjusts the Width and Height fields for the image in the exact same proportion. As your Width and Height decrease (with Resample Image turned off), your Resolution increases. Best of all, there’s absolutely no loss of quality. Pretty cool!

Step Four:

Here I’ve turned off Resample Image, then I typed 240 in the Resolution field (for output to a color inkjet printer—I know, you probably think you need a lot more resolution, but you don’t. In fact, I never print with a resolution higher than 240 ppi). At a resolution of 240 ppi here, I can actually print a photo that is around 18 inches wide by around 12 inches high.

Step Five:

Here, I’ve lowered the Resolution setting to 180 ppi. (Again, you don’t need nearly as much resolution as you’d think, but 180 ppi is pretty much as low as you should go when printing to a color inkjet printer.) As you can see, the Width of my image is now almost 25″ and the height is almost 17″. Best of all, we did it without damaging a single pixel, because we were able to turn off Resample Image.

Step Six:

When you click OK, you won’t see the image window change at all—it will appear at the exact same size onscreen. But now look at the rulers—you can see that your image’s dimensions have changed. Resizing using this technique does three big things: (1) it gets your physical dimensions down to size (the photo now fits on a 16x24″ sheet); (2) it increases the resolution enough so you can output this image on a color inkjet printer; and (3) you haven’t softened or pixelated the image in any way—the quality remains the same—all because you turned off Resample Image. Note: Do not turn off Resample Image for images that you scan on a scanner—they start as high-res images in the first place. Turning off Resample Image is only for photos taken with a digital camera at a low resolution.

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