Optimizing Photos for Web Use

The key to successfully optimizing photos for web use is to find the balance between compressing the overall size of the file small enough so that it will load quickly, but not so small that it reduces the visible quality of the photo on your monitor.

In a previous lesson we learned that we can help preserve that visible quality of our photographs by keeping the original image unedited. We resized and made changes only to the working copy of the photo that we created using a lossless file format.

Once we have everything exactly the way we want it and have saved any changes, we can now begin optimizing the photos for web use.

This tutorial was written for Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 users, but the process is almost identical in previous versions . Although it is also very similar for other programs, Paint Shop Pro users may find it easier to follow the optimization tutorial that I wrote specifically for them.

From the menu in Photoshop Elements, select: File > Save for Web

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A new box (window) will open to enter information on how you want the file saved. Since we are working with a photograph we will be optimizing it as a jpg file. To the right of the box you will see a section that says preset (In older versions of Elements it will say settings.)

Just below that area is a drop down menu of file formats to choose from. Scroll down to JPEG. Just below that is another drop down menu to select a low, medium, high or maximum optimization setting. I start with the high setting which will change the quality number just to the right of there to 80. Using the preview windows to the left to monitor the quality of the photo, I can adjust this number up or down until I have the file size as small as possible without reducing the visible quality of the image.

In Photoshop Elements, the lower the number is, the higher the level of compression (optimization). Unless I need them for a specific purpose, I do not place a checkmark in Progressive or ICC Profile. When you are happy with the results, click OK.

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You will then need to enter the file name and location for the optimized jpg file format of your photograph.

That is all there is to it! You are ready to go!

J. Cricket Walker

Small Business Marketing Consultant and Scenic Photographer
Copyright © 2006 J. Cricket Walker of Online Photography Magazine All Rights Reserved

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