Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Printing your Instagram Photos

I am obsessed with Instagram. OBSESSED. Sure, 90% of my photos are of Campbell, but can you blame me? He's so cute! Plus, it has allowed me to capture some special moments and document his life thus far in a handy way.

If you're not on Instagram yet, WHY NOT? Do you live in a cave? Where there is no light? So all your pictures would look like this?

If that's the case, turn your flash on. Then join Instagram. Then give all your pictures the hashtag #inacave so we can follow you.

Annnnnnyway, I'm not sure if you've tried to print your Instagram photos straight out of the phone to a normal sized photo (like 4x6 or 5x7), but if you have, you'll notice how grainy they turned out.

IN FACT, if you've tried to print a photo off of Facebook or other social media site, you'll notice how grainy it turned out as well.

That's because when you have a photo uploaded to a social media site, it automatically loses quality and flattens the image to save space.

Last week, I shared how I updated some old floating frames I had so I could hang some of my Instagram photos.

There are a bunch of services out there that offer to print your Instagram photos and turn them into magnets or photo canvases, etc etc. They're great services, but I just can't bring myself to pay that much for something that I could probably make myself. Especially when it comes to just printing a picture and charging 3x what it would cost to print at a local photo center.

The trick is that they take your Instagram photos and make them look sharper and more high quality. NOW you can just do that yourself and print them at Walgreens/CVS/Walmart/ or your choice of online photo site.

Here are my tips for getting your Instagram photos to look less grainy when you print them yourself.

1. Print directly from the source.
When you take a picture in Instagram with your iPhone, it will automatically save the photo to your camera roll. This is the original source and the best quality you can get of this image. (Not sure about other smart phones, but I'm sure there is something similar.)

E-mail this photo to yourself so you can have the best quality version of the photo on your phone. Make sure you email it as the actual size, and not a smaller version. The larger the file size, the better!

2. Increase the image's resolution using a photo editing software
**DISCLAIMER** I am not a professional Photoshopper!

I use Photoshop to edit my photos. If you have a version of Photoshop, it's really easy to increase your image's resolution. This makes your photo have more pixels per square inch, this making the image sharper.

In Photoshop, if you go to the menu along the top, click on Image>Image Size. This box should pop up:

Pay attention to the bottom half where it says "Document size".  Make sure to uncheck "Scale Styles" and "Constrain Proportions". 

Then, make sure under Width & Height, "Inches" is selected in the drop-down menu. Usually it will be px, so you'll have to change that to inches if you want to make the photo a printable size.

When you change it to inches, the numbers in the box will change, and you will need to manually enter the size you want the picture to be. I printed my photos to be 8x8 inches, so I made the width 8 inches and the height 8 inches.

Then, where it says Resolution, change it to AT LEAST 150. It will probably normally be on 72. 150 will make it a decent looking photo. If you go higher (say 200 or 300,) then it will be sharper but will also make the file size much larger. So it's kind of a balancing act.

3. Resize the canvas size
Go to Image>Canvas size

It will look similar to the Image size box, but it's different.

Because Instagram photos are square, and standard sized photos are not, you will need to change the canvas size to fit the full photo. If you don't, it will cut off the sides of your photo when it's printed.

Here's a little guide for how to set your photos by image and then canvas size:

Image size                                           Canvas size
4x4                                                        4x6
5x5                                                        5x7
8x8                                                      8x10

Basically, the image is the actual picture and the canvas is the whole piece of photo paper. 

Order your photos and pick them up, then trim off the extra space on the sides (i.e. the extra part of the canvas.)

If you don't have photoshop, then it's best to find out how your program allows you to resize an image. The main thing is to increase the image's resolution and resize it in inches to be exactly the size you want it to print. 

Don't leave any resizing to the photo center (especially if it's a drug store photo center) because they just print it as is. If they resize it, they will not change the image resolution, which will result in the blurriness or graininess.

Booyah! I just saved you a few bucks. You can thank me in Dr Pepper-grams. (What's a Dr Pepper-gram? I don't really know, but if you're thankful enough, you'll figure it out.)

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