If you have been taking pictures with your digital camera, you may have noticed that when they are printed on 4×6 prints, part of the image is cropped off the top and bottom of the print. Ever wonder why?? This page should explain the problem.

Your picture from your digital camera:

Than you upload/download/e-mail whatever, to your favourite print shop (Costco? London Drugs? Future Shop?). And they print you a standar 4×6, shown below:

At first glance, “Same picture, what’s the problem?”. Well, if you look close, in the 4×6 printing, they chopped off a bit of the top and bottom of the picture. The foliage in the foreground is gone, and the trees behind the roof are almost totally cropped away. If this is not a big deal to you, then don’t bother reading on.

The reason they crop a bit off is because the “Aspect Ratio” of your cameras image, is different from a 4×6 print. Your camera, is typically 4/3 = 1.333 (4000×3000 pixels for a 12 Megapixel camera, or 2048×1536 for a 3 Megapixel camera). A 4×6 image has an aspect ratio of 6/4 = 1.5.

How do we fix this? Well here is what I do. I add some grey bars on the right and left of my image like I have shown below:

These gray bars can be added with any digital image processing program (PhotoShop, Paint Shop Pro, etc). Take your initial image pixel size (4000×3000 for example), keep the height the same (3000), and add enough pixels to the x dimension to get the desired aspect ratio (1.5 * 3000 = 4500 in this example, for a picture that is 4500×3000 pixels, 250 pixel wide gray bars on either side).

Doesn’t look fantastic, but when you get this image printed, you will get the full image your camera took. Once you get it home, you will need to cut off the gray bars.

This is called “full frame”. Some print shops will add these bars (Gray/white or black) if you ask for your prints to be “full frame”. However, most shops are pumping out prints by the 100’s and they don’t want to do any “special instructions”.

This issue is not a real big problem with 4×6 images, but if you start printing larger images, or images with greatly different aspect ratios, you will need to go through this process. An example of a greatly different aspect ratio is shown below:

Which I had to print like this:

Make sense? Clear as mud? Have questions? Feel free to e-mail me

Happy Printing!

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