Do you want to apply to shows electronically? Create an Etsy shop? Provide photos for your NVHG gallery page?

If you want to do any of these things, you're going to need to provide digital photographs. And as often as not, you're going to be given specific instructions as to the acceptable size and format of your photograph, and the instructions are going to use some fairly technical language.

Okay, you've got the digital photos... but what size are they now, and how do you resize them to meet the requirements?

It's not really that hard -- most people can do this themselves with a little guidance. And here's that guidance.

First, you need a computer. (For the purposes of this article, we're going to assume you generally know how to use a computer... e.g., you can open programs, you know where your photos are stored, you know how to save files, etc.)

You'll also need software that enables you to resize photos. There are a number of programs that can do this, and you may already have one on your computer. There are also some free, downloadable programs on the internet that will enable you to do it.

Most of the common graphics programs used by that artists will resize photos and other graphics... we use Photoshop Elements, but there are plenty more out there.

If you don't have a graphics program, there are a number of companies that offer free software for resizing photos -- you just have to download them to your computer. Go to, and search for "photo resizers" and you'll get a bunch of them. We downloaded Fastone Photo Resizer for the purposes of this article.

Okay, so you have photo resizing software on your computer. Now what?

There are a few terms it will be helpful to understand as you get started:

Pixels -- it's a way to measure graphics, photos and other digital elements. You can't convert pixels to inches... don't even try. It will make your head spin. Just know that most of the resizing programs will tell you the dimensions of your photo in pixels, and most of the people who want photos from you will give you the requirements in pixels. Pixels to pixels makes everything MUCH easier.

Constrain Proportions -- Photo resizing software is meant to be flexible, not smart. If the software asks you if you want to "constrain proportions," you virtually always want to say yes. If you don't, your image may become seriously distorted -- i.e., short and fat, or tall and thin.

File format: There are a lot of file formats -- it's the 3 or 4 letter code after the period in file names (e.g., nvhglogo.jpg is a picture of the NVHG logo in the jpeg file format). Conveniently, most cameras store photographs in the .jpg file format, although you may have to choose this option in the camera's menu system). Even more conveniently, most of the people/websites who want photos from you for show applications and the like ALSO want the .jpg file format.

If your photos are in some other format (e.g., RAW, gif, png, etc.) then you'll have to convert them to the .jpg format. It's not particularly difficult, and many graphics programs enable you to do that. (We're not going to cover that here, though.)

The main steps to resizing an image are pretty much the same no matter what program you use for resizing. Right after this list, you'll find specific instructions for Photoshop Elements, then for Fastone Photo Resizer.

  1. First, figure out what size the photo ultimately needs to be. Whoever is asking for the phtos should provide this. For example, if you are resizing photos to go on a NVHG Gallery page, the instructions say that the height of the picture must be 600 pixels and that the width should be between 400 and 1600 pixels.
  2. Open the resizing software (Photoshop Elements, Fastone Photo Resizer, whatever.)
  3. Select the photo you want to resize, and upload it into the software. 
  4. Give the software the new dimensions for the picture, and be sure that it maintains the pictures current proportions.
  5. Give the software a command to resize the photo.
  6. Save the resized photo.

Here's how to resize photos in Photoshop Elements (Photoshop is pretty much the same)

  • With Photoshop Elements, you click on File, then Open, and it will open up your computer directory. Find the photo file you want to resize, and click on it. You should see your photo on the screen in front of you. 
  • Next, go to the tabs at the very top, and click on "Image," then "Resize," then "Image Size." A window with several fields should open up.Photoshop Resizing Window
  • The first 2 numbers in the window indicate the pictures current width and height (Pixel Dimensions). It should indicate the width and height in pixels, but if it doesn't, you can move directly to the right, click on the down arrow, and select pixels. The numbers will change if you do this, but don't worry about it. 
  • Next, take a look at the check boxes at the bottom of the window (Scale Styles, Constrain Proportions, etc.). Make sure there are checkmarks in all three boxes. The very bottom field should be changed to "Bicubic Sharpener" -- click on the down arrow to make the selection.
  • Once that's done, move back up to the first two numbers. Since we know that we want to end up with a picture that's 600 pixels in height, change the number for height to 600. The "width" number will change automatically, as it should. The new "width" number will most likely be between 400 and 1600 pixels per the instructions, unless the picture is really tall and thin, or really short and fat. Then click OK in the upper left corner of the box. (Even if the width number is not between 400 and 1600, you can still click OK. It won't hurt the photo, and you have to deal with that problem elsewhere.Photoshop Quality Window
  • There are also height and width numbers in the next section down (Document Size). Leave these numbers alone... they are intended for printing instructions, and don't pertain to resizing a file for use on the web.
  • The resizing window will disappear, and you'll see your photo... it will probably have changed size.
  • Save your newly resized photo. (Click File, then Save, etc.)  Note, you might want to save it with a new file name -- that way you keep the original and the reduced version.
  • But wait!  You're not done yet.  After you click save, a "Quality" window will pop up. Make sure the Quality field is set to "Maximum," and that Base ("Standard)" is picked.  Then hit OK, and you really are done.

Here's how to resize photos with Fastone Photo Resizer:

  • When you open Fastone Photo Resizer, you'll see your computer file directory on the left side of your screen. Find the photo file you want to resize, and click on it. Move to the right, and you'll see several buttons ("Add", "Add All", "Remove" and "Clear"). Click "Add", and the program will copy the selected photo file into the column on the right side of the page.
  • Next, look for some boxes under the column on the right side of the screen.Fastone Resizer Window
    1. "Output format" should be "JPEG format"
    2. "Output folder" should be where you want to store the resized photo. It can be in the same folder where you got it in the first place, or you can identify a new folder here.
    3. If you are feeling brave, click on settings... see if there is anything you want to change. We typically keep the quality high, and leave the rest alone.
    4. Select the box that says "Use Advanced Options (Resize..).
    5. "Moving down, select the "Rename" box, and type the file name for your soon-to-be-resized photo. You may have to play around with file names a little... the program has specific requirements. (We recommend keeping the original file separate.)
    6. Check the next last two boxes, just for safety.
  • Then click on the Advanced Options button (just to the right). A window should open up.Fastone Advanced Options Window
    1. At the top left, the Resize Box should have a checkmark.
    2. The next line gives you three choices... choose "Resize base on one side." That will keep your photo's original proportions.
    3. For our NVHG gallery photos, the predefined side is the Height (click on the down arrow to change) and enter the number 600 in to the number field.
    4. Leave the filter alone (keep the default), and click "OK." The window will close.
  • Back on the main view, go to the bottom right, and click on "Convert". A screen that shows you what files are being processed will pop up, and let you know when it's done. That should resize picture, and save it with the new file name. Click OK.

Apart from resizing your photos, there are a lot of things you can to improve them.

At the February 2013 NVHG meeting, there will be a presentation that includes:  

  • How to set custom white balance for better color.
  • Why photographers use depth of field when taking photographs.
  • The basics of lighting.
  • How to get better exposures.

After the meeting, the presentation will be posted in the Members Only section of the website, under Archived Presentations.

Article by: Alan and Emily Pezzulich