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Old Jan 9, 2004, 1:26 PM   #1
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Default Printing 4:3 pictures

I have had good results printing pictures at Costco. They charge only $0.19 for a 4x6" and $1.99 for an 8x12" print.

I recently took a large number of travel photos, and I'm planning to get many of them printed. They're all in the 4:3 apsect ratio. Many of them can be easily cropped down to 3:2, so they're no problem. But, there are some photos that just can't be cropped without cutting out an important part of the picture or making the composition too tight vertically. What would likely happen if I added a white border to the sizes of the image to make the aspect ratio 3:2? Hopefully, the border would be printed, leaving a 4:3 picture at the center that I can physically crop out by cutting off the white border.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about.



Naturally, I plan to do this will full-resolution images.

Has anyone ever tried this? I don't want to do it and then find out that it doesn't work. Perhaps I can print all the cropped images and slip in one bordered one as a test, and if it works, come back a second time with more bordered pictures to print.
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Old Jan 9, 2004, 3:28 PM   #2
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Interesting. I'm no pro but I don't think this would look bad. Another alternative is to pull-out a color of the photo into the side-border. Instead of white - you can use the brownish color of the fountain if that is what you want the eye to focus on - try looking at this to see what you think. This is similar to using layer-ed matte's around the photo or art-work with a color in the inner matt to pull out a color within the photo or art work. It makes the object of that color stand out a bit more.

As far as the aspect problem you hit - I found this early on when I got my first digital camera and always frame more of the picture than what I really want so I can crop to any size/aspect. You can always crop - but you can't very-well add.
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Old Jan 10, 2004, 9:01 AM   #3
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I can't remember if it is ofoto or shutterfly (both are online services), but one or both allow you to specify not to crop to the 3:2 ratio and then they'll print out the pictures with the white border for you ..... but I'd think the method you mentioned should work.
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Old Jan 10, 2004, 3:20 PM   #4
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Thanks for the replies.

I asked the guy at Costco, and he said the pictures will indeed print out with the border on the side.
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Old Jan 11, 2004, 5:26 AM   #5
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UrbanPhotos..........What you are suggesting is exactly what is done when delivering 4X3 aspect ratio to 16X9 TV displays.

The TV terminology for this is 'letterbox' - that's black bands top and bottom. 'Pillar box' - that's black bands left and right. The third option is 'centre cut-out' - that's zooming into the centre and throwing away image around the edges (if you can!), and resolution to fit the aspect you want. In the States I don't know if you'd use these terms as you call your pillar boxes mail boxes!

In TV there have been various experiments with the black bands, like making them neutral grey - or even fancy graphic curtains left and right. But aesthetically they always seem to come round to black - or in your case white.

I don't know why more cam users don't explore the aspect ratio specs of digicams which are mostly 4x3 suiting pc displays (except some Kodaks). If I was a landscape photographer (my alias would be LandscapePhotos!) and had a 16X9 plasma TV, I'd like to see more of my image capture closer to 16X9. One day I know that home viewing my present pics on plasma or lcd will mean black or some other coloured bands. VOX
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Old Jan 11, 2004, 6:49 PM   #6
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I'd be more tempted to try real hard to find a 3:2 crop ratio that would work in the photo:

How does this work for you?

If you like it, you should crop your picture in an exact 3:2 ratio. In the example given, I figured out what 2/3 of the width of the image was (266), and moved a 266 pixel tall crop box up and down until I found one I liked. For comparison, I resized the pic to the original 400x300 you used. Of course, it's going to be pixelated because I resized UP, but if you don't resize and have a 2MP image, perhaps the resolution won't be too low for them to print a full 4x6 for you. Give it a try, and see what you think!

Shoot enough crop latitude to allow you to do this for your shots if you are planning on printing them out. For me, most of my work is for the web or display on TV, and 4:3 format works just great! Hmmm... guess I'll have to keep this in mind myself for HDTV ready TV's!
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Old Jan 11, 2004, 11:04 PM   #7
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Well, I didn't choose the best example of an uncroppable picture. I realized it was possible to get down to 3:2 without cutting out anything, but the composition seems too tight to me. The top of the tree and the fountain spray would be very close to the top edge of the print. The pictures tend to get cropped slightly when being printed: things at the very edge of an image (within perhaps 20 pixels, in a 5 MP image) get cut out.

I should probably use the 3:2 mode on my camera more. The only disadvantages of using 3:2 are that it further restricts the vertical vield-of-view on a camera that already has a little less wide-angle than I'd like, and that pictures taken in 3:2 mode don't completely fill a 4:3 computer or TV screen. It all comes down to how important printing is, I suppose.
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Old Jan 12, 2004, 6:50 PM   #8
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Having black borders in the computer screen is far less of a problem than the hassle saved by not having to crop images for printing at 6x4. My camera only shoots in 3:2 mode, so this is not really an issue. But my next camera better have a 3:2 mode because I really love not having to crop pictures every time I go to print at the nearest Walgreens.
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Old Jan 12, 2004, 7:28 PM   #9
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Most non-DSLR cameras with a 3:2 mode just crop out some of your picture. There are freeware programs that will crop in standard formats like 3:2 and I canít imagine printing images without first sorting, cropping, enhancing etc anyway. I donít see the logic of taking fewer pixels than you are capable of just because you donít want to crop the images.

Most rangefinder type optical viewfinders show only 80-85% of the shot, so you arenít usually losing anything that was in the viewfinder when you took the picture unless you frame with the LCD with that type of camera.

I donít quite understand why places like Wal-Mart arenít offering 4 X 5.33 shots for people who donít want their 4:3 images cropped.
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Old Jan 12, 2004, 9:36 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by slipe
Most non-DSLR cameras with a 3:2 mode just crop out some of your picture. There are freeware programs that will crop in standard formats like 3:2 and I canít imagine printing images without first sorting, cropping, enhancing etc anyway. I donít see the logic of taking fewer pixels than you are capable of just because you donít want to crop the images.
Well, the 3:2 mode on my camera shows black at the top and bottom, effectively making the EVF smaller, and showing me exactly what's going to be in the picture. It's not like it's haphazardly cropping the image. There's something to the argument about not shooting fewer pixels than I'm capable of, maybe, but if I'm cropping afterward, the same number of pixels are being lost. I'll still always post-process my photos (for color, contrast, etc) when I'm going to print them, even if they're in 3:2. I'm not trying to save the work: I'm trying to avoid the situation where a photo can't be cropped without messing it up. I could just shoot in 4:3 with the intention of cropping, and try to compose with the crop in mind, but why do that? The biggest problem with shooting 3:2 is that if I want to make a 4:5 print (like an 8x10), it would be tough. It's hard enough to crop the sides off a 4:3 picture, let alone a 3:2.

The strongest argument for shooting in 4:3, for me, is that the vast majority of my photos aren't destined for printing.

Eventually I'll have a 3:2 dSLR, and it this won't be an issue anymore.
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