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Getting Photos from Your Camera onto Your Computer

It seems that most of the questions I'm asked lately are in regard to storing, editing, and the sharing of digital photos. Well, there are dozens of ways of doing these things; but I'll just describe the easy methods I use.

For starters, I ignore all the online promotions from Kodak and others who offer to help us do these things for a nominal fee. With WinXP, no special software is needed to get photos from your digital camera onto your hard drive. For pre-WinXP users, a CD always comes with a digital camera which make your PC and camera work together.

Flash Memory Cards — USB Adapters

Although some cameras connect directly to a PC for transferring photos, most use a tiny flash memory card, which you remove from the camera and connect to your PC via an adapter into a USB port. I have two cameras, each using a different shaped flash card, so I bought an adaptor that accepts four different sizes.

When a photo-laden card is connected to your PC, the pictures normally begin showing up on your screen via an image-editing program, which then invites you to copy them onto your hard drive — usually into your "My Pictures" folder by simply dragging and dropping them.

Well, I use seven different image-editors for various tasks, but prefer one particular program for opening, cropping, and resizing photos. Irfanview is completely free from www.irfanview.com.

As you download Irfanview, click YES when asked if you want the program to be the default program for opening your bitmap images (JPG, BMP, TIF, etc.). Then, whenever a photo's filename or icon is double-clicked, it will open in Irfanview.

Since digital photos tend to be fairly large, they may not fit completely in the Irfanview window. Click the toolbar "minus sign" to reduce the view size. Each click makes the view 10 percent smaller. However, making the view size smaller does NOT make the actual printed picture any smaller.

Resizing a Picture

To make the photo physically smaller in size, click Image>Resize/Resample. Here you'll find many options, such as HALF, which makes the photo 1/4 its original size (half as high and half as wide). Or you can reduce it by a chosen percentage, say, 75% to make it 3/4 of the original. You can also designate an exact height or width in pixels or inches.

Choose Your Preferred DPI

This is also where you choose the DPI (dots per inch) for the image resolution. 300 DPI works well for images to be output on an inkjet printer. However, if the image will just be viewed on a screen, 96 DPI is fine for most LCD (liquid crystal display) monitors with 72 DPI being suitable for older CRT (cathode ray tube) monitors.

Now you may want to "crop" the photo, i.e. select the important area, and eliminate the extraneous background which can quickly empty your expensive inkjet cartridges.

With your left mouse-button held down, use the arrow pointer to draw a box around the area you want to keep. Release the mouse-button to fix the dashed outline in place. Finally, click the toolbar scissors followed by clicking the "clipboard paste" icon to complete the cropping.



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