Posted Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Ordering Prints through iPhoto? Pay Attention to Aspect Ratios and Cropping, or Else

Apple has published a handy table that makes it a bit easier to determine when and if you should crop a photo before ordering Kodak prints through iPhoto.

As I mention in several places in my book, if you don't crop a photo before ordering a print, you run the risk of Kodak doing the job for you: the Kodak print service will always blow up a photo so that it fills whatever print size you've ordered.

(Memo to Apple: How about putting a "Do Not Crop" check box alongside each photo in the iPhoto print-ordering dialog box?)

As I also mention in the book, this automatic cropping can lead to horrible results if you order prints of a photo with a wildly nonstandard aspect ratio—for example, a photo that you've cropped to be very tall or very wide, or a panorama that you've stitched together with Photoshop or a program such as DoubleTake.

Instead of getting a very wide or very tall photo within, say, a 5 by 7 inch print, you'll get a portion of the photo blown up to fill the 5 by 7 inch area. That would not do justice to this shot of Sophie's friend Mimi.

To avoid this forced cropping, you need to perform an extra step for those panoramas or oddly cropped photos: create a blank document in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements, and make the document's dimensions the same as those of the print you plan to order. Then, open your panorama or oddly cropped photo in Photoshop and paste it into the document. Add this document to your iPhoto library, and order prints of it.

I explore this madness in much more detail in the book, which is now on bookstore shelves across the land. (Look for a special promotional display at Barnes & Noble, which is also selling the book for $22.04—the lowest price on the Web.)

Amazon is still charging the full $34.99 cover price, but several Amazon marketplace merchants are selling brand-new copies for as low as $23.08.

So go forth and buy the latest edition of the solar system's top-selling iLife book, which called "even better than its predecessor, if that's possible."