ND5 – 2016 Shark Bay – Inscription

On Saturday I went along to an ND5 Collaboration presentation. ND5 is a group of 5 of the most talented landscape photographers I have ever had the privilege to see & watch … well 4 + 1 filmmaker … who is also extremely talented. The day included a showing of their 2016 Shark Bay Inscription work. It will be on display at Maud Creative Newstead, Brisbane,QLD till 8th Mar 2014. To quote Les, this work

… is an engagement with nature and culture as landscape, memory and myth. It seeks to support environmentality as a permanent concern for humanists, and to encourage and reinforce public concern for the fate of the earth, and our responsibility to act on that awareness.

A must see for those who are passionate about our environment, can see the abstract in the forms of our incredible country & appreciate beautiful fine art. The detail they have managed to extract from these scenes defies belief yet stares you in the face … you feel that if you ran your hands over the photograph – heaven forbid – it would come alive & you would feel every bump & crevice every grain of sand … simply breathtaking. The 4 photographers I speak of are Les Walkling, Tony Hewitt, Christian Fletcher & Peter Eastway with Michael Fletcher recording their every project. If you haven’t attended a presentation or workshop from either one of these extraordinary Australian photographers you simply don’t know what you are missing. Just a day listening to Les discuss the influences of colour & the ins & outs of printing will leave you hanging on for more. 5  passionate & enthusiastic people willing to sharing their knowledge & experiences.

ND5 (Ninety Degrees Five) is a perfect example of how 5 people can work successfully together … applauding the power of collaboration.


Orpheus Island 2013 Photography workshop …

Well what a workshop without doubt the best photography colour management workshop on offer with 2 of the best photographers in Australia – or the world in my mind!

We have just returned from the most enlightening workshop on colour management & printing anyone could ever hope to attend! The workshop was on the beautiful Orpheus Island & run by 2 of the most acclaimed photographers in Australia. Les Walkling & Tony Hewitt wow what a combination! How lucky were we to have the opportunity to attend this workshop.

Les Walkling to quote Les ‘an artist, educator & digital imaging consultant’ with work on display in many public collections. To describe the way Les goes about the task of imparting knowledge to his audience is way beyond my writings … you simply have to be there to listen to him … he is undeniably the most inspiring person I have ever listened to. He speaks from the heart with so much passion infusing ‘life’ into his words. His understanding of colour & the creation of that perfect print is second to none.

Tony Hewitt a Grand Master of Photography … over the years Tony has accumulated a plethora of accolades, recently titled the 2013 Canon AIPP Australian Photographer of the Year. Tony has a knack of seeing in his mind exactly the photograph he will make. In my mind if you don’t already have that special ‘knack’ it is such a treasured, invaluable skill to endeavour to develop …. I only hope I can learn this over the years left to me. Tony, like Les, is so passionate in his talking’s … watching him work you can see/feel the connection & empathy he has with his subject. So, so inspiring!

Both photographers were on hand to answer any & all question we had, no matter what time of day or night & could often be found in the dry lab helping ‘night owls’ perfect their developing techniques & printing well into the wee small hours. Thinking about that it wasn’t only Les & Tony who made themselves available their expert technicians were also invaluable in their assistance.

Les & Tony presented sessions covering colour, colour space, calibration, subject, lines, quadrants, LR, Photoshop, art papers, printing, finding the light, photo stacking, pictorial composition, black & white just to mention a few. We also had the enviable opportunity of being out there in the field watching Tony work his magic in many practical sessions. A must to be there. Not to mention the networking opportunity to mingle & learn from photographers of all genres & businesses who have extensively travelled the world. Simply awesome!!

On top of my list of ‘takeaways’ … of which there are many … are 2 & they will possibly be worked in conjunction with each other …  the first being to work on looking at the lines & quadrants in the photograph I am about to make, the second & at the same time develop the skill of ‘seeing’ the making of that photograph.

If I get the chance I will certainly be going along next year. Orpheus Island is the perfect surroundings to loose oneself in the world of making your photo … a perfect environment to absorb all the knowledge delivered.

Joining Les & Tony were many special assistants. John & Pam de Rooy who did an exceptional task of organising chefs & sufficient food to feed the masses for the week … & wow what food the meals were sumptuous & plenty for all. We had handpicked chefs to conjure up delicious meals to nourish our brains. They also organised the transportation of precious Ezio monitors, Epson printers & a mountain of paper. Along with John & Pam were expert technical assistants to tackle the inevitable computer glitches, & of course the sponsors, Epson, Nikon (Aust), Eizo, Canson, CR Kennedy, Hasselblad, Kayell (Aust) and Apple, with heaps of equipment to die for & try out there & then on the spot …. I ask you what more could you possibly ask for!!

Thank you all … hears to next year! Although I didn’t go out with the expectation of coming home with a portfolio of out of this world photos I will use what I have learnt & post some up over the next few days … my task was to learn from the masters!!!

Last few months …

Well it’s been a while since I’ve written anything here … the time just flies by days merge into weeks & weeks into months & soon we are nearly at the dreaded “C’ season!

Over the past months we have had the opportunity to purchase some new camera gear, delved into the possibility of building on our block of land, registered my name as a business & put some of our images in for printing as large as they could be. I am still waiting for those to come back … a couple on canvas & some on PVC we were going for aluminium but was talked out of it as they are a lot heavier & we can get the same look on the PVC … waiting anxiously to see the results.

 The last few weeks has seen us out trying our new lenses & we’re discovering a whole new world & learning so much about our new cameras. Our new 400mm is very special & takes some getting used to … very very conscious of how we handle it. With the images we have taken so far although only early ones – we can see the potential – we are like a pair of kids excited by a new toy … all be it a very expensive new toy!! My next favourite is the 135mm such a beautiful sharp lens.

Oh my gosh I don’t believe I haven’t mentioned our celebration – a few days in Darwin plus a 6hr or so flight in a helicopter over Kakadu … yes 6 hours wow such an amazing experience!!! It was a special occasion celebrating 60 yrs of life plus 40 yrs of life together & as we were afraid of we came away thinking it is the only way to see & capture some of our awesome country :) A little more expensive but hey!!!!! We have since read about a fellow who has decked out a helicopter – how’s that ey – & he & his wife spend their days photographing our vast country – landing where & when they like camping out to get up close & personal to areas otherwise inaccessible by any other means. What a life & as expected they have some truly captivating photographs.

Meanwhile, coming back down from the clouds, here at home, we are limited to our local area so I have been out to our Mary Cairncross Reserve using the 135mm. The Ewan Maddock Dam, which is where I sent many hours over the dry season wandering in amongst the melaleucas & around the banks of the dam waters is full of water right now which is good – however it doesn’t have the character the dried out mud flats gave. The twisted roots of the Melaleuca’s are all submerged so the intricate shapes you could imagine within the twists & knots cannot be seen … I wonder if the level will drop as much this coming season ? So my new place of roaming is the Mary Cairncross Reserve.

Here I have been playing with the early morning light that bounces off the trees & the knotted roots of the vines. I could spend many hours in there & will no doubt go back several more times … not sure if my friend who accompanied me felt the same way but I find the shapes in nature fascinating J The 135mm allows me to get a tighter shot – guess I am sort of creating a ‘portrait of the rainforest’. Our area round here doesn’t present itself to larger vistas so getting close seems to be an answer … that’s how I see it anyway … here are some of my results from Mary Cairncross.

I will upload some Darwin shots in another post :)MaryCaircross05

MaryCaircross01MaryCaircross08MaryCaircross02MaryCaircross03  MaryCaircross06 MaryCaircross09   MaryCaircross07

Are presets & plugins making me lazy in my editing?

A question I’ve asked myself of late … I’ve not been a big user of presets in my editing apps as I love working the software in my own way to make my image. However there are so many offered with the programmes now that I’ve been trying some out – & I’ve got to admit some are really nifty & do save so much time! I know I can create my own but I’m not usually thinking of that & so often find I save my work before thinking about creating a preset … besides I’m not that cleaver & other cleaver people have gone to so much trouble, time & effort to create the myriad that are out there why not use them!
Plugins are the same … I’ve not been an avid collector of plugins but do have my favourite couple I frequently turn to. Again however just recently I have found myself exploring them more as a – shall remain nameless – upgrade presented me with the opportunity to use some free ones … & surprise, surprise, I’m enjoying them – at least for now.

Bringing me to my question … Are presets & plugins making me lazy in my editing – am I losing my editing skills & knowledge of my programmes? I guess I will answer that over time!

In our editing programmes there’s a multitude of ways to achieve the same result & we can use these variants to recreate many of the plugin effects available … sometimes it just takes a couple of clicks other times it can take a much longer process … so long as you are familiar enough with the software … but I am finding it so convenient to go the easy way – at least I am at this point in time! Am I lazy … at first I thought there’s no challenge here … just click on an effect & bingo but I’m quickly realising that to get the right look does indeed take some – well yes skill if you like! So for now I will further explore what my plugins have to offer & how far I can go with them.

A couple of thoughts, one – time – does it take less time to edit an image if I use these plugins or presets, can I process more images in less time … is that good or bad? Two – file size – should be a whole lot smaller as there won’t be so many layers!

Of course if I could get everything perfect in camera first that would save heaps of time … but hey I like playing! Besides if you’re perfect what have you got to drive you onward & upward?

Here’s a couple I’ve worked on … seems like I’m going thru a soft focus phase :)









Just how far to go when processing an image …

Over the years digital camera technology has improved no end & the cameras themselves become cheaper… alongside this image processing technology has improved & the number of products available increased exponentially. I for one think we are very fortunate to have such an array of amazing products from which to choose.

How many hours did photographers like Ansell Adams, Edward Weston – just to mention a couple – spend in their dark room? What would Adams have done with today’s dark room?

Most often than not a raw image straight from a digital camera needs some sort of post processing to give it depth … if it’s a jpg then the camera has applied enhancements set in that camera. Anyone who boasts their image has not been ‘touched’ is deceiving themselves & us.

I have no experience in studio work so I cannot offer my thoughts there. However in landscape photography typically we look at a scene, work it, take the shot. There & then we take a look on the screen & if it’s not good we take it again if possible. Back home we download the images do a quick critique & decide which are worth spending time, often hours, editing … looking at technical aspects such as composition, exposure, focus, subject interest. The raw image from the camera is generally quite flat so will need some enhancements & our editing software can fix basics like straighten, contrast & white balance very easily & quickly. If that is enough then stop. However if you are not happy then go further. This is where our software can excel … if you know your software & have a vision of your image then there is no limit to your creative powers!

If edits are handled with a ‘gentle hand/brush’ they can make so much difference in transforming a ordinary flat image to a wow image & in this process then I think we can be proud of our efforts & not deny the fact that our image has been enhanced. Working our way round some of these new programmes in itself is an accomplishment especially to those of us who do not have the background experience of techniques in the dark room.

How far we go depends on how & where our image is to be displayed! In my mind there are almost no boundaries say in fine art work or to a certain extent landscape photography, however photo journalism, historical photos are another kettle of fish. Weddings & portraiture! It is all very subjective … also for consideration is the ‘time’ factor … how much time are you prepared to spend in front of the computer to create a wow image? How much time do you have? Developing a basic workflow suitable for you takes time but can also save so much time in the end! Get to know your editing programme … of course it goes without saying know your camera & it’s settings!!

I am not a pro by any means just someone who enjoys photography & working on an image I feel worthy of printing. I would not hesitate to tell anyone who asked what processes I have used. I have my own guidelines as to how far I go with edits such as removing objects & changing skies … which I know pros do regularly!

Getting just the right look to an image in the digital darkroom isn’t as easy as some may suppose … & quite often I find myself doing a double take … looking back on any image a week or so later I think ok I went too far here or perhaps I can do more there or something different here! Sometimes a totally new look works for the same image … Ahh the magic of the digital darkroom! If you work long enough with a programme you tend to develop ‘an eye’ & can see when you have gone too far … I am working on refining that ‘eye’! & yes sometimes two minutes just does the trick:)

Just my thoughts. Don’t be afraid to push the boundaries you may begin a new trend …
Happy creating:)

Who’s image is it …. ?

Some thoughts I have been pondering over.

Copyright rules … you take an image then it’s yours … BUT I’ll throw out a couple of scenarios that have been buzzing round my head … food for discussion!

One scenario … probably splitting hairs here but say a group of bods are out on a photo shoot – one person is asked to give advice/guidance on how to go about taking a particular shot – how to compose the shot, what the correct settings would be, which angle is best etc … the person offering the advice doesn’t ‘take’ the shot. Who’s image is it? If this shot is entered in a competition & wins!

Another scenario … a person is given an image or asked to edit an image – the photographer gives no guidelines as to how the image is to be edited. Does this edited image then become the ‘editors’ property – what claim, if any, does the editor have over this final product? The original yes will always remain the property of the photographer but what of the edited version?

These edits purely come from the editors own thoughts & vision. He/she has followed their digital darkroom processes to make the image – the contrast, colour conversions, composition, effects etc are all the results of his/her own interpretation of how the image should best be portrayed!
If the photographer was happy with the final rendition of the image does it then become his/her property? I’m sure if he/she were unhappy with the result he/she would not wish to claim ownership!

Take this second scenario my thoughts are that the editor would have some – even 100% – claim to this final rendition as they have toiled in the digital darkroom for any number of hours to produce an acceptable product! – well presuming it is acceptable that is! It was not the editors idea not the editors vision not the editors conception that created the original image but certainly the editors ideas – his/her creativity that resulted in the final product!
If there were guidelines from the photographer – the owner – of the image as to how it should be edited would that change things – would there need to be some sort of agreement set out?

In my first scenario if I was the person offering the guidance I’d certainly feel happy/humbled that my guidance had inspired the photographer to take a photo good enough to be entered & win a competition!

And does this all matter! I’m not a professional photographer but are these thoughts that need to be considered if I ever do sell any of my images or if I edit other images can I sell them as mine?
Food for thought!!

Seeing is everything …

My thoughts probably come over a little muddled here but I will endeavour to put them down none the less. They follow on from comments I read all the time regarding taking photos. Statements like – photography should make you feel something … when you look out there at a scene capture what you see & feel … capture the emotion & atmosphere … allow the scene to speak to you. Hummm what does all that mean – mostly I look out on a scene & either I like it or don’t. I have a difficult time ‘feeling’ or hearing it ‘speak’ to me.

I also often read when we take photos we should take them for ‘us’ not for ‘everyone else’ … we shouldn’t take photos that we think other people will like! Yes well this one I’m comfortable with.

I can’t expand on the feeling – speaking element but will have a go at talking about ‘seeing’ & seeing with a creative perspective. It is of course very subjective/personal – someone standing beside you will look over the exact same vista but conjure up a totally different picture!

Learning to see & see creatively is no doubt a very essential ability to have up ones sleeve. It is possibly the be all & end all to capturing that great & unique image. I guess I’m a little lazy. I – as millions of others – look at a scene think wow what a stunning picture & click away … to me that image could be great however when I look at someone else’s of the same scene or similar theirs looks oh so much better! Why is that? On reflection I surmise I must take more time, walk around what I am trying to photograph & look up & down, sideways, inside out & any which way there is – really ‘look’ at ‘see’ what is in front of me. I don’t have an issue with spotting the difference between a wow, good & not so good image but I do feel I need to learn ‘how to see’ a lot more creatively!

I recently read a quote – one of many I might add – that was included in a course I am presently enrolled in … a quote from Oliver Gagliani – who was an American photographer & master of large format photography, darkroom technique & the zone system.

“You will never make a photograph that everyone likes, so make sure that you like every one of your photographs.”

Hummm a big thought … how much disk space could I reclaim! but yes so true.
What’s the point of taking or holding onto images you do not like!

Putting the old grey matter to some hard core thinking I can come up with a couple of ‘techniques’ that I could begin using – I could ‘learn to see’ in black & white, ‘see’ in a blur, ‘see’ in reverse. I think if I can put all these thoughts into practice maybe just maybe I will improve my awareness of nature & the environment around me & also develop my own unique ‘style’.

On the first technique the works of Ansel Adams come to mind – after all he is -one if not – the master of b&w & the Zone system. Blurring – selectively blurring an image can produce some interesting effects. I have done this in photoshop but have not thought to ‘see in a blur’ to create the blur intentionally in camera. Although that being said I have tried deliberately moving the camera or zooming to produce effects for backgrounds but to do this to produce a lovely piece of art that is a new thought! I have seen many examples of this technique where the photographer has produced some amazing Fine Art work – the course that I am currently undergoing. Seeing in reverse will possibly help me see more … that could be tricky! Then there is the essential element of colour – which colours work together – which add contrast, which arouse emotion or which highlight the atmosphere. Another facet to learning is to look & study other photographers you admire … photographers who make the sort of photos you would like to make. I have a couple of Australian landscape photographers I watch with awe. If I can do half of this it should perhaps help me ‘feel’ & ‘hear’ & soak up the ’emotion’ of the image I am trying to capture … sounds like a plan to me!

I haven’t grown up studying photography but have always had a camera for kids & holiday shots – this digital stuff has made it pretty easy to embrace as a hobby & go that extra step … endeavouring to create that keeper. There is so much to learn on the technical side as well as the practical side … the camera alone has so many smarts to come to grips with … one thing I have learnt & that is just how important it is to know where everything is on my camera & to be able to put my finger on the correct dial at night!

At first I became hooked on taking macros as the little camera I began with was magic for that. However since upgrading my leaning has shifted toward landscape photography I’m at the stage where I’m trying to develop a unique ‘style’ & find a direction to my photography – a unique angle.
I love working my photographs in the digital darkroom often spending hours there doggedly seek to produce that wow print!

I’ve enrolled in a Fine Art course with those thoughts in mind – also to work on my ‘seeing creatively’ learning curve. Words from our tutor :

‘The challenge for you is to photograph not only what you see with your eyes, but also what you feel’.
‘You are free when you are holding your camera, free to capture the world as you see it. Embrace that idea. Start at the surface, move deeper, get closer.
You have choices! Take risks, experiment, break rules, have fun!’
‘When you make photos, you reveal things about yourself. You show the viewer what interests you, what you see and how you see it.
Shoot for yourself!’

Go forth & shoot … :)
The Fine Art course I am enrolled in runs for 4 weeks & is with ppsop

Evaluation & Critique … photography

A topic that crops up regularly in our Grafix group & one that has brought about much debate. Till now I have not paid much attention to the possible differences between the 2 but upon reflection I see there is a definite separateness so to get it all in perspective I decided to put my thoughts down in words … with luck doing that will help me put some logic … heaven forbid… & structure to my thoughts!
What is the difference between Evaluation & Critique & just how far to go in both?

As we have discovered in our group when critiquing/evaluating a piece of work we easily become sidetracked on a particular aspect & discussions can go on & on for quite some time … that can get a little mundane for some!! So just how do we approach this topic … our group makeup is not solely centered around photography as a Grafix group we cover anything from photography to composting to video work & all that relates to those topics?

There has always been the opportunity to submit our work for critique or evaluation … however not many seem to take ‘advantage’ of that option … so in order for us to broaden our development in image taking & processing we need to put some structure & purpose into this topic to encourage more to participate. It is not something for everyone as many ‘artists’ feel uncomfortable putting their work on show for all to critique but it is potentially a valuable lesson for those of us willing to run that gauntlet!
IMHO if all goes well the outcome will be a more proficient little gathering of photographers & creative artists! I can see it assisting us in many areas, areas such as, improving our photography skills, learning to ‘see’ creatively & learning the process of critiquing our work & that of others. Along the way we will discover new skills & techniques to add to our own editing work flow, it should open our minds as we listen to the many different ideas of others. In the end we will have the knowhow of presenting our best images in their best ‘light’. It will also help us to clean out images not worthy of editing … saving space & time!!

As I mentioned in my introduction after much deliberation I have reached the conclusion that there is a separateness about the two. I see critiquing as the initial appraisal of the piece of work & should only take round 10 – 15 mins of discussion. However evaluations I see as being more involved … here we delve further into the ‘makings’ of the work – the processes undertaken to bring about the resulting art work on show. I’ll try to outline my thoughts! Here I’m generally referring to the piece of work as images as that is the area I mainly concentrate on but I can see these principle thoughts being applied across all works of art either written or graphic!

A critique does not need to be & should not be totally negative. To me it should cover both the positive & the not so positive aspects of the image. It should be constructive & positive. Glaring ‘technical’ issues should be addressed with positive guidance as to how to improve these issues … at the same time giving praise to any ‘wow’ factors. The artists’ own ability & level of technical photographic knowledge must be taken into consideration… never belittle or embarrass the photographer always offer positive guidance & appraisal … some photographers can be very sensitive to any criticism of their work!!

I’m not saying go soft … anyone knows judges can be tough … honesty is a key factor!

The whole point to the exercise is to learn … if the critique is just about pulling the image to pieces with no constructive guidance then what good is it! Being constructive positive the photographer will be more inclined to take more notice, go away & work on weak areas & most important … learn!
Where to begin … working on correcting the basic technical aspects of photography is a good place to begin. Basics such as focus/sharpness, exposure, focal point/subject matter, any distractions & composition, then move to depth of field, contrast & lighting. Emotional appeal & connection with the subject – especially in portraiture – is very important & then does this image tell a story. Again this critique shouldn’t be lengthy focusing on what areas that most need improvement at the same time balancing what is great about the image.

To me it is difficult to make much out of an image that is not technically correct to begin with … you can & will save yourself a heap of time if you get as much as possible correct in camera from the get go! On saying that I can hear someone a lot more creative than myself saying “I can do something with that crappy photo” & yes they will … it will be morphed into an amazing compo!
Now Evaluation – this to me is looking at & ‘scrutinizing’ the process or processes taken to produce the final piece of work & in our group this could be, a composite, a fine art image, a photograph, or video work. In evaluating the image I see that, aside from the basics which we have expanded on in the critique, we now bore deeper & explore the techniques used to create this final piece … again in our case, these techniques would include the processes used in the digital darkroom to begin honing in on areas such as;

• colour – is it balanced, oversaturated, washed out – would it work better as b&w
• black & white – is there full tonal range from lights to darks – would it work better as colour
• lighting – coming from the right direction
• framing/cropping – too tight, not tight enough
• emotion – does the image portray emotion, does the emotion compliment the subject

I can see questions like how, what & why come into play here.
Listening to the photographer describing what was seen as the motivation to reach for the camera & capture the photo in the first place – what settings on the camera were needed to capture the correct exposure – how & why certain editing techniques were chosen, these questions all play a major role in the evaluation process. What atmosphere & feeling did the artist wish to convey. Often as not being aware of the reasoning behind the end result the image is seen in a different light!
These are just my thoughts … I am but a humble beginner endeavouring to learn how to critique my work so I can improve on my own photographic techniques … at the same time learning to critique with the aim of trying to help others in our group!

As I say I’m learning the whole process & am open to ‘critique’ so if anyone would like to add their thoughts or tell me I’m off the track please leave a comment … constructive please:)
A little tip with the camera – being able to put your fingers on your camera dials blindfolded is a valuable skill to have up your sleeve. It will help you out in the dark & of course it goes without saying you must know what each dial does!!

Happy creating :)

Looking up wiki I found these definitions:
Evaluation: Critique:

Taking photographs … making photographs!

I’ve read the words ‘making a photograph’ in many books with no further explanation & often wondered why ‘making’ … what is the difference between ‘making’ & ‘taking’ a photograph. The light bulb! … whilst creatively working on my photograph it suddenly dawned on me that, that is just what I am doing ‘making my photograph’! I am currently reading Chris Butcher’s book on ‘Black & White Digital Photography’ & in the first chapter here are those words again. Reading further Chris expands the idea & corroborates my thoughts that yes there is a difference between the two.
Digital cameras have made it so easy to click away ‘taking’ photos but when you stop & think about the view in front of you & how you see that picture in your mind you are about to ‘make’ a photograph … you move around, maybe wait for the perfect lighting or for that cloud to be in a better position all the time thinking how to ‘make’ that photo … same applies when editing an image in the digital darkroom you are ‘making’ your photo! … well that’s how I see it :)
Happy creating.

dpi vs ppi

Resolution ppi & dpi terminology – sizing & resizing for printing – another of the confusing issues tossed about for discussion in our Grafx Group. Here I’m jotting down my understanding of the difference.

dpi (dots per inch) to me originates from the old days & is purely a printing thing … dots being the droplets of ink a printer lays down for each inch in a print. So as far as digital imaging dpi means absolutely naught. Generally the higher the dpi of the printer the better the quality print – the tonality & colours will be better & the blends between the colours will be smoother. There are many printers out there with varying dpi’s ranging from basic photo to super fine … your choice is obviously based on the size prints you are creating, for general photographic needs round 1440dpi seems to be a good choice. Can I suggest here that if you’re unfamiliar with printing & are thinking of purchasing a photo printer it would do you no harm to carry out some in depth research … there are so many photo printers out there varying in price & quality.

ppi (Pixels per inch) Basically this is the term used when talking about the size & quality of the digital image. Our image is X pixels by Y pixels … ppi represents the number of these pixels the printer will use to print one inch on paper. The higher the ppi the better the quality print we can achieve. Too few ppi in an image means that the pixels will be very large resulting in a pixelated image – an image where you can see the actual pixels giving jagged edges.

In our image editing program we have an image dialogue box – I’ll talk about PS here as that’s the program I’m most familiar with. Within this dialogue box there is a ‘resample’ check box which plays an integral role in the whole process of sizing our image … it is a very important check box! It is the one & only action that will affect the quality of information available to you from your file! Using this box you choose the print size – & the file size – by either resampling or not resampling your image.

I’ll try to explain the differences between ‘checking’ & ‘unchecking’ this box.

When resizing the image with this box checked you are, as it says, resampling the image … you are changing the pixel dimensions – not the document dimensions – of your image by either throwing away pixels or adding pixels. Setting the ppi to a smaller number you will throw away pixels setting it to a higher number you are adding pixels. Losing, or throwing away, pixels is OK provided you don’t need the bigger file again (use a copy of the original large file!) Creating, or adding, pixels is not good – you will see that the resulting quality has been degraded as these ‘new’ pixels are generated by the computer. However leaving this box unchecked, i.e. not resampling the image, you are only changing the document size not the number of pixels in our image. You are choosing how many pixels in your image you wish to make available to print one inch. This is what you would do to achieve the best quality print for your image. Again the larger this number the smaller the print & the smaller the number the larger the print. If you are outsourcing your image the default standard is 300ppi … this means that for every inch there is 300 pixels from the source image. So with this in mind – if you want a print of a determined size you must make sure the image has enough pixels to make a good quality print!

Let’s look at an example –
My camera gives me images with pixel dimensions 5616 x 3744 px.

If I wish to make a print of say 12in x 8in the ppi to print this size will be 468. This figure is calculated from the pixel dimension divided by the size of the print you want – for example using my image dimension 5616 / 12 = 468 (or 3744 / 8 = 468). From that I can see that the ppi available to make a print of this size is 468 pixels. 468 pixels are used for each inch of my print. Let PS do the calculations – in the image size dialogue box uncheck the resample image box & in the document size section select a unit & size to be printed … the resulting ppi is displayed in the resolution box.

The printer driver will now do it’s stuff translating those 468 pixels into dots per inch & produce a high quality print!

Looking at it another way … this time I want to know the maximum size I can achieve for a good quality print from my image. I know that on my printer 240ppi will be sufficient to get a good quality image – so long as my image is good & sharp!  This time the result is calculated by dividing the pixels by the ppi – in my image 5616 / 240 = 23.4in : 3744 / 240 = 15.6in.  So again let PS do the calculations – in the image dialogue box & with the resample check box unchecked I type 240 in the resolution box (ppi box) & PS calculates the ultimate size for print.

My final image will be 23.4in X 15.6in with 240 pixels used to represent each inch.

It’s important to understand the results of resampling or not resampling the image. The only reason I can think of for resampling an image to reduce its size would be to use it online or send via email.

This is my very basic understanding of the whole subject & I hope I have got it down logically! But hey don’t take my word as it … use this as a base for some further research!

Try it open an image go to > Image > Image Size & play with different combinations of controls & check boxes note down the differences. (Remember to experiment on a duplicate of the image just in case!)

Annette :)