Sending Photos to a friend

Sending Photos to a friend

* This is a duplicate post originally posted here.  Google has an issue with that site for some reason and I don’t know that they won’t take it down one day.

There are many folks out there with digital cameras but with little understanding of what they have and what do with the photos they have taken. This post will attempt to help those that want to send one or more photos to a friend.

Free Online Services

Most people, I am guessing, use a free service like Shutterfly, Snapfish, SmugMug, Walmart, or Walgreens to upload their photos and share with others. This is a pretty good option. Anyone can order prints including the owner, there is a nice slideshow that can be viewed by anyone and that can often be the end of it. The downside, is that people have to sign-up to the specific service and they may not like doing that, especially if they have already signed up for other similar services. It also, of course, locks everyone into using that particular service for printing and they may or may not give the original owner or any one else access to the original high-quality files. If printing is not necessary, I recommend services such as Flickr or Google’s Picassa Web Albums which integrates nicely with their free Picassa photo managment software. Flickr has a free basic account but it limits you to 100mb of storage and only 200 pictures. You can only access your original high-quality images on Flickr if you have a paid account. Picassa Web Albums has a 1G limit on their free account and you DO have access to your original high-quality images. With Picassa Web Albums you can allow others to download photos or entire albums. This page describes how to download entire albums.
So, any of the above mentioned online services will do the job, but if you want the most control over your photos and for other reasons you want to send them directly to people, then keep reading.
Photo Resolution

If you remember when you were shopping for a camera the buzzword was MegaPixels. You were offered 2, 3, 6, 8 or more “megapixel” cameras. The more the better, you were told. Below is a chart of what the megapixels really give you:

Type of image Minimum resolution needed Number of megapixels needed
Web image 640 x 480 1-megapixel cameras* & up
4″ x 6″ print 2048 x 1536 3-megapixel cameras* & up
8″ x 10″ 3072 x 2048 6-megapixel cameras & up
16″ x 20″ 3264 x 2448 8-megapixel cameras & up

What this means is that if you plan to print your photos, and depending on the size of the prints you plan to print, you should be using a 3-6 megapixel camera. Now just because you CAN doesn’t mean you SHOULD take high-resolution pictures. Each camera has the option to take photos at a lower resolution than the highest that it supports. So regardless of what megapixel your camera is, if you only plan to take pictures that you can view on your computer, email, put on the web somewhere, or mail your friends, then you should set the camera to take lower-resolution photos. 1024 x 768 or something close to this, is a good size.

The larger the resolution, the bigger the file. Nobody should be mailing around photos that are bigger than 500k each, otherwise you are wasting bandwidth, and eating up valuable space on your PC, SD cards, or wherever you are storing your photos. Often less than 100k per photo will suffice, and if printing, anything greater than a 2 or 3 Megapixel is overkill, unless you plan to print VERY LARGE prints.

Now if space isn’t an issue, and you think “Well, I don’t KNOW which shots I plan to print so I want the option of printing or not printing”, then that’s ok too. Shoot at a high-resolution. But when it comes time to SEND the photos somewhere, do the receiver a favor and scale them down before sending. Sending friends and family 6 megabyte files for each photo is not very friendly.

Resizing Photos

There are many different ways to scale down photos and you may already have a few programs installed on your computer that can do the job. I’ll mention just a few that I recommend.

If you are running Windows XP, try installing the Image Resizer Power Toy. Once installed you open up Windows Explorer, find your photos, right click on them and resize to another size.

A free program which also integrates into Windows Explorer allowing you to right click an image you want to resize, is VSO Image Resizer.

Finally, you can change how you email photos. Instead of starting an email message and attaching a file to it, use a program like Picassa to manage your photos, then select one or more photos, hit the email button and Picassa will give you the option of resizing the photo and will automatically start the editor with the resized files attached! Couldn’t be easier. iPhoto on the Mac works similarly.

There are many other ways to resize your photos, just Google “free image resize” and you’ll find many more choices.

For the daring, FTP your files!

If you have a lot of photos to send and the receiver is a propeller head like me and you are a bit daring, you might dust off your propeller hat and try the following workflow. It actually isn’t that hard and once setup it is incredibly easy!

Download a free FTP program like Filezilla, or for Mac CyberDuck. FTP stands for File Transfer Protocol. It’s an old tried and true technology for moving files from one computer on the Internet to another.

The recipient must have their own website, or be setup to allow FTP access and you must know the address, username and password to connect. Once connected you simply drag and drop from your computer to the FTP program’s window and it will transfer your files to the destination computer. This is the best way to copy many large files to another computer or to a website. As a matter of fact FTP is often the technique used to update websites.

Update Nov 2,  2010: Minus Photo  Sharing Service looks nice

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