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Written by Paul D. Race for Breakthrough Communications™

Resizing Images for Web Pages

This is a followup to our series on How (and Why) to Write "How To" Hobby Articles

Our premise is that you'll enjoy your hobby more if you share it with other folks. In my case, I've been able to share my hobbies with people all around the world. Folks from places like Belgium, Dubai, Argentinia, Sri Lanka, Shanghai, New South Wales, Dublin, France, Latvia, and many more, have written me with questions and tips. I regard it as a privilege to hear from them, and help them when possible.

One way people interact on the web these days is by uploading photos. And many sites are equipped to handle the really big files that today's digital cameras churn out. Some sites, though, have a "cap" on how much HD space you can use on their servers. Others aren't equipped to resize them, so if you upload a huge file, all the next person will see is one corner of what you sent.

The Inner Space of Digital Photos

Digital photos are a kind of bitmap graphic, in which arrays of tiny dots build up an image pixel by pixel. Most digital cameras follow the lead of most computer monitors before, say 2007, by using a 4x3 ratio between horizontal and vertical lines. The "megapixel" rating comes from "rounding" the total number of pixels. The following table shows typical

So ratios like 640x480 (.3meg), 800x600, 1024x768, 1200x900, 2400x1800, 3600x2700, .

Isn't "Bigger Always Better"?

Not on the web. My 12 megapixel camera gives me photos that are nearly six times too large to display "full-sized" on a 1080p HD television. Yes, if you feed really big photos directy into a monitor (say on a USB card), the monitor will "resize" them on the fly to fit the screen. But the quality of the image you see is actually worse than if you used graphics editing software to resize it before you fed it to the monitor. The software knows how to keep an image looking nice when it shrinks it.

The same thing is true on the web. I can put a 4000x3000 pixel image on my web site and program my web page to display it at 800x600 pixels. But it won't look as nice on your screen as if I resized it first - and it would take up to 25 times as long to download to your computer. I don't care how fast your DSL is; there would be no excuse for such laziness on my part.

Now it's likely that screen resolutions will continue to increase. But today, when I want to embed a photo into a web page as part of a illustration, I usually make it somewhere between 250 and 400 pixels high. Then I usually put a link that lets you click for a bigger photo. And that's where the 800x600pixels come in. Most of the time, that provides all the visual information needed to illustrate any point I write about. If I am providing graphics that are just "for pretty," or, say, for folks to use as backgrounds on their computers, I may go up to 1200 pixels wide. But that's the exception.

Don't Let the Browser Resize the Photos

So how do you get from, say 4000x3000 px to 800x600 px? Most browsers "shrink" oversize photos by dropping rows of pixels. So 4000x3000px photo reduced to 800x600 by a browser will be showing only 1 row out of five in each direction.

Prepping Photos for Web Publication

CNET's Download Site for Paint.Net

The following articles in this series contain tips for anyone who wants to help others in their hobby by passing on your own successes or near-successes or not-even-close-to-successes . . . .

Note About Writing for the Web

I am a writer, not a marketeer. So I'm used to publishing information that people need, in the most understandable and useful form possible. Unfortunately, the vast majority of books published about "Writing for the Web" are all about how you can make loads of money if you post a lot of "zingy" hype on your site. As far as I can tell, the only guaranteed way to get rich quick this way is to sell a lot of hype-filled books that tell other people how to get rich quick.

The articles listed above, have a few links to books about writing and photography. But I wanted to warn you in advance that even some of the best books about writing for the web have "get rich quick" hype embedded somewhere in the pages. The truth is that editing any truly useful resource (be it web or print) on any hobby is a labor of love. If you love your hobby and you'd like to see it grow, and you know how to do anything worth passing on, this is a good way to give back and to encourage the "next generation" of hobbyists.


Not long ago, I published a "blog-like article" called "Pay No Attention to That Man Behind the Curtain," which describes both the pitfalls and the advantages of sharing creative "secrets" with others. The short version is that, in spite of the pitfalls, your own creativity benefits when you take part in creative activities and communicate what you've learned to others. What can you try? What can you teach? How can you benefit the hobbies and communities that have benefited you in the past? (And keep in mind that you REALLY learn a subject when you try to explain it to the next person).

Looking forward to your suggestions, additions, criticisms, and anything else you care to send me, I remain,

Paul Race

Breakthrough Communications

P.S. Enjoy your hobbies. And be sure to enjoy any time you have with your family in the coming weeks.

Note: Breakthrough Communications™, Family Garden Trains™, Garden Train Store™, Big Christmas Trains™, BIG Indoor Trains™, BIG Train Store™, and Trains-N-Towns™ are trademarks of Breakthrough Communications ( All information, data, text, and illustrations on this web site are Copyright (c) 1995, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 by Paul D. Race. Reuse or republication without prior written permission is specifically forbidden.

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