Online sharing: make it easier

By "easier" I mean faster and more convenient. And better looking. 

Faster: bandwidth and resolution

Did you know that printers need around 300 pixels for every inch of print? Phones, screens, monitors and digital displays only need 72. So every pixel over the required 72 per inch is wasted. 

Bigger file sizes take longer to upload to your sharing service, and longer to download for the person at the other end. They may display awkwardly as well - have you ever had to scroll sideways to try and see all of a photo attached to an email? If the person you are sharing the photo with is not going to print it, don't send them a large file. 

Most websites are only 800 pixels wide, or 1200 at the most. So you never really need to send photos that are bigger than that. Bear in mind that iPhone photos are currently more than 3000 pixels wide, and a DSLR or mirrorless will probably shoot at more than 5000 pixels wide.

If you want to reduce your file size, you can use free online services. These services don't reduce the number of pixels, but they do use an algorithm to make the file size smaller and therefore quicker to send. If you compress too much you will lose quality. Search online for "image optimizer" or "photo resizer". If you have Photoshop, Lightroom, or the photo editor that came with your Windows or Mac computer, you can resize your image easily to the exact pixel dimensions that you need. Remember to save a copy to work on so you don't shrink your original image.

More convenient: workflow

If you've spent any time doing my free online course A Year With My Camera, you'll know how important it is to have a digital workflow - the steps you take from taking the image to sharing it. Building into your workflow an opportunity to share images with your friends and family is critical. Make it a habit to tag images to share as you go, and then have a regular weekly 15 minutes when you actually share your images. Your friends will love you for it.

Private messaging apps like Whatsapp are the most convenient for family and friends sharing - the images are automatically downloaded for the recipient. If you have a cloud storage service like Dropbox, you can share folders so people can easily access images. There's no need to be emailing files to each other any more (although if that's what works for you and you actually do it, then keep doing it).

Better looking: get it right before you upload

1. Aspect ratio

Facebook displays images differently on desktop and on mobile. And in turn, differently to Instagram and Twitter. And Pinterest. Each place you share your image will have an optimum shape and size (called the aspect ratio). For example, on Instagram it used to be that you could only share square images, and anything else was cropped. Now it will support landscape and portrait images. For Twitter you will need a landscape oriented rectangle (long side down) that is slightly thinner than for Facebook. 

 Facebook aspect ratio

Facebook aspect ratio

 Twitter aspect ratio

Twitter aspect ratio

2. Compression algorithms

Facebook is notorious for compressing your images and lowering the quality, although I uploaded a peony to Instagram this week that was full of blocky JPEG squares, so it's not the only one. There is nothing you can do about this. The free sites need to keep images as small a file size as possible, because they are paying to store them all. Avoid uploading images with big expanses of a single colour (eg. big blue skies) - these show the compression artefacts more than images with lots of detail.

3. Collage apps

It's quick and easy to create collages for sharing. Some favourites with A Year With My Camera students include:

- Layout (the Instagram collage app)

- PicFrame

- Pic Collage

- BeFunky


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