Blogging Tips: Crop & Resize your Photos

These tips are intended for bloggers that enjoy sharing their photos online. Most bloggers out there have a digital camera and adds pictures to their posts. Many bloggers, like myself, also participates in WordPress’ Weekly Photo Challenge. Some of you have pure photo blogs, while others add photos to a post – a trick that can help your readers make the text more easy to read.
This post is my attempt to help those who are interested in learning more on the subject.

Like Erica V. writes in her post on Dailypost.wordpress.com on January 3, 2012:

Adding pictures to your posts is a great way to create visual interest and break up text-heavy content […]

My experience is that many bloggers transfer their photos from their digital cameras and upload them to their blogs without thinking about cropping & resizing.

In this photo I took advantage of the objects around me to get natural cropping:

You can use your surroundings to get natural image cropping

You can use your surroundings to get natural image cropping

One might ask: why does this matter?

Well, the cropping is really just a matter of taste and it’s not important for those of you who are not concerned with the graphic appearance of their blogs. But I believe that most of my fellow bloggers out there do care about the way their blog looks – even if they’re not that into photography and/or graphic design.

The resizing is a whole different story. Resizing can mean that you increase the size of your photo, or that you decrease the size. Here I use the term resize as in decreasing the size (also called down-sampling).
I guess that most people (?) are surfing the web on high-speed internet connections, but remember: there’s still people out there with crappy connections. Large image files takes longer time to load. Also: many sites won’t let you upload high-resolution images and they reduce the image size for you automatically. By resizing your photos, you’re in control over the quality of your images.

There’s plenty of programs you can use to resize your photos. Adobe Photoshop is popular, or you can use a program called Gimp (free version for Linux/PC/Mac can be downloaded from http://www.gimp.org). If you run Windows you can also use a program that comes with the Windows installation called Paint (you’ll find it under accessories), but this doesn’t give you the option to sharpen your images – just to resize them.

Whoa! Slow down! This is too much info!

Don’t worry: as long as you’re not planning to print high-resolution versions of the images you’re publishing in your blog, you don’t have to worry too much about sharpening the resized versions, but: it does make your images look better.

Here’s an example of a sharpened vs unsharpened image:

Sharpened, cropped & resized image

Sharpened, cropped & resized image

Unsharpened, cropped & resized image

Unsharpened, cropped & resized image

Now, back to cropping.

The best thing to do is to think about cropping before you shoot the image. That way you don’t have to worry about it later during the post-processing and it saves you time & energy (hence it is more eco-friendly). But, when you’re out shooting photos there’s not always enough time. Maybe you’re dealing with live motives like kids or animals: very often they just don’t care if you’re ready or not.

“In the printing, graphic design and photography industries, cropping refers to removing unwanted areas from a photographic or illustrated image. One of the most basic photo manipulation processes, it is performed in order to remove an unwanted subject or irrelevant detail from a photo, change its aspect ratio, or to improve the overall composition.” (Wikipedia).

Cropping helps accentuating your subject & adds impact, like in this example:

Cropped, resized & sharpened image.

Cropped, resized & sharpened image.

Here's the full picture (but still resized).

Here’s the full picture (but still resized).

Now, below you’ll see the actual image in its full size. It’s slower to load and the image file is much larger than what’s necessary. For some people (with slow internet connections) this can seriously ruin the experience of your blog and you don’t want that, right?
People don’t need these huge image files and if you click the photo (remember to click the magnifying glass too), you’ll probably notice that the image doesn’t even fit your screen:

This is the actual, full image size.

This is the actual, full image size.

If you don’t print high quality images of your photos, you can always change the settings of your camera so that it’ll shoot smaller images. It’ll save you some post-processing.

More often than not photographers use “The rule of thirds” when they crop their images. If you’re interested there’s plenty of websites explaining the theory behind it, for example Wikipedia that writes:

“The rule of thirds is applied by aligning a subject with the guide lines and their intersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allowing linear features in the image to flow from section to section. The main reason for observing the rule of thirds is to discourage placement of the subject at the center, or prevent a horizon from appearing to divide the picture in half.”

I’m not an expert in this field myself, but I share the little knowledge I have, and hopefully this article will help you to improve both your photos & your blogging.

EDIT: For all you bloggers out there, I seriously recommend this article by Kana Tyler. It’s well-written and she has a lot of good points: KanaTyler.com – Blogging Tips: Growing a Readership

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22 thoughts on “Blogging Tips: Crop & Resize your Photos

  1. I’m finally getting to the point, in my self taught photography, to try to crop at the time of the shoot, saves a bunch of work later!

    • That’s true, it does save you a lot of work later. It also helps you to become a better photographer: you start seeing things differently – “picturing things”, even without the camera.

  2. Very useful tutorial! it is frustrating when some blogs take ages to load even on high speed broadband connections! i usually have several tabs open so that makes it worse.

    • Yes, it’s very frustrating. Thanks for mentioning the point about the tabs!
      Right now I don’t have that many tabs open (only 14), but I visited some blogs earlier today (and probably had the double amount of tabs open) which made my browser slow down – because some of these blogs had extremely large image files.

  3. Very good article. I’m probably guilty of too large files — I tend to forget about slower connections and the fact that many people work with many tabs open at the same time.

    I almost always crop mine afterwards. Birds … waterfowl, is what I love to shoot and they’re not always cooperative 🙂 …not the cat, either.

      • I’ve changed pictures in the two, last posts. Won’t go back any longer because noone reads them anyway, but from now on, I’ll shape up 🙂

  4. Nice post, and very true as the second set of duck photos demonstrated. It’s always better to ‘crop’ in the viewfinder but cropping on your pc afterwards will actually help train your eye. The more you do it, the easier it gets to do it out in the field. 🙂

    I’m guilty of largish kind of files, I guess. The max width I set everything to is 2000. I wonder what the average size of photos on here would be.

    • Thanks Robert.
      Yes that’s true: practice makes (maybe not perfect but at least) better.
      I don’t know about the average size, but I’ve seen high-resolution photos larger than 4000 pixels.

  5. Pingback: resizing | colderweather

  6. well presented tips for adding and re-sizing… I know what you mean, sometimes a blog wont load right away, I usually move on and miss the persons blog… It is important. Love you cropped goose photo…

    • No problem Francine.
      Today I visited a blog from work (don’t worry it wasn’t yours) while I had a few tabs open + some work related programs. That blog had a post with several huge picture files and this resulted in my computer ‘freezing’ / not responding. So I had to ctrl+alt+delete to terminate Internet Explorer (unfortunately we’re not allowed to install any decent browser or other software at work).
      You can safely say that I won’t be visiting that blog from work again!

  7. Thank you for reminding me of the importance of careful framing in the viewfinder! I have ruined many photos by shooting a diagonal angle when I should have shot vertically. Nothing is worse. Also, I’ve had to crop so much that I lost too many pixels. Your illustrations here are great. And I appreciate the list of links. You’re a very generous man, Cardinal. 🙂

    • And you’re a very generous commenter George 🙂 I appreciate your feedback. It’s always easier to do the framing while shooting, but like I mentioned in the article: sometimes there’s not enough time and then you’ll have to do the cropping afterwards.

  8. Pingback: Buddha in the park | artishorseshit

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