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Printing Thumbnail Sheets with Irfanview, and More...

A lot of folks became digital camera owners over the holidays and immediately entered the world of do-it-yourself photo-editing — a world which didn't exist when they took snapshots on film.

All digital cameras come with programs that allow you to crop and resize photos, along with tools for letting you correct things such as brightness, contrast, and "red eye." However, these programs vary from camera to camera and there is little consistency in how they work. Nonetheless, there is one easy-to-use program that simplifies these tasks and which is free to everyone. Irfanview can be downloaded from www.irfanview.com. Be sure to download all the free "plug-ins" as well.

When installing Irfanview you will be asked which file name extensions you want associated with the program. Choose JPG. This will ensure that double-clicking any JPG file (the image format generated by most digital cameras) will open the picture in Irfanview.

If an image is too large to be seen completely on your screen click the Minus Sign icon to reduce the screen view to a manageable size.

To crop a photo (i.e.; select the important part and eliminate the superfluous) use your cursor to draw a rectangle around the part you want to save. Then click the Scissors icon. Next click the Clipboard icon and your selection will reappear without the extraneous background.

Next click Image>Resize/Resample, and you will find options for changing the picture's physical size in pixels, centimeters, or inches. Here is where you will also choose a DPI (dots per inch) resolution. For viewing the photo on a monitor 96 DPI is adequate. For printing the picture with an inkjet printer, use 300 DPI or higher.

To improve a photo's colors, click on Image>Enhance Colors. Two thumbnails of the image will appear. As you experiment with the sliding-scale color and brightness options, the second thumbnail will change accordingly. Click OK to see the full-size results. If you are not satisfied, Edit>Undo (Ctrl+Z) will let you start over.

When you are satisfied, click File>Save As and give the picture a new name. By default, this will save a JPG at a slightly lower quality of resolution and smaller file size. To maintain the original file size and resolution, checkmark Show Options Dialog and set the slide indicator to 100/Best.

To correct camera flash "red eye," draw a rectangle around each eye and then click Image>Red Eye Reduction.

By going to Options>Set File Associations you can tell Irfanview to recognize other image formats. This means if someone sends you, say, a PSD (Adobe Photoshop) file, Irfanview will open it and let you change it to a JPG by doing File>Save As and choosing JPG under "Save As Type."

The program has many other features — too many to list here. One of the coolest is "Irfanview Thumbnails," which gives a miniature view of all pictures in a folder and which lets you select certain ones to be printed out as a single file. Hold down Ctrl while you click the thumbnails you want for the group print-out.



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