Guidelines for photos and other artwork

Wild Ones Journal
Guidelines for Submitting Graphics:
Photographic Prints, Digital Photos,
Scanned Photos, and Scanned Illustrations

The purpose of these guidelines is to ensure the reproduction quality of artwork published in the Wild Ones Journal, and to help you avoid the disappointment of finding that your submitted photos, illustrations, or scans are unusable. We also want to be sure you know how and where to send your graphics to us in a way that will avoid delays and rejections.

There’s a big (and sometimes surprising) difference between photographs that look good in your hand or on your computer screen, and photographs that are properly exposed, have enough detail, and are sharp enough to deliver a message on a printed page. We don’t expect professional quality photographs, but here are a few things to consider before sending us your photos:

BASIC PHOTOGRAPHIC ELEMENTS

Composition. When your photo appears in the Journal, it will probably be a lot smaller than your original. Generally speaking, think in terms of getting up close to your subject so everyone can see the object of the photo when it’s re-sized to fit into the Journal. Rather than stepping back “to get everyone and everything” into the scene, move in for a close-up.

Color. Remember that photos in the Journal are not printed in full color. This means that those colorful flowers in your photo may look dull and lifeless when printed in black and white. There’s no way to tell ahead of time if the colors in your photo will exhibit good contrast when converted to shades of gray, so it’s best to rely on more than just the “pretty colors” alone.

Exposure. Try your best for even exposure when shooting your photos. If your photo has lots of very light areas along with very dark areas, much of the detail you see in your photo may disappear once the photo appears in the Journal. If your photo is over-exposed or under-exposed (too light or too dark) we’ll do what we can with it, but poorly exposed photos will always print with loss of detail.

Focus. Holding the camera steady will go a long way toward getting great photos. We can use professional photo-editing software to help “sharpen” photos that are already relatively sharp, but no software can turn a fuzzy photo into a sharp rendition. OK, that takes care of the basics. Now here are some guidelines that relate to photographic prints, digital photos, and scans in particular:

PHOTOGRAPHIC PRINTS

What To Do:

1. Remember the photographic basics mentioned above.

2. Learn to use your camera. Read the user guide. You may discover some interesting and helpful pointers.

3. Send only glossy, color or black and white photographic prints made from 35mm cameras, slides, and digital photos.

4. Include caption information, keyed to each photo, on a separate sheet of paper.

5. Include the name of the person who took the photos.

6. Include a statement of permission for Wild Ones to publish the photos. If someone else owns the copyright on the photos, include a statement of permission to publish from the copyright holder.

7. Include your name, contact information, and why you’re sending us the photos.

8. Package your photos to protect them from damage in the mail.

9. Contact us before sending your photos. We can’t return unsolicited materials.

What Not To Do:

1. Don’t use the “time and date” feature on your camera. It’s time-consuming and sometimes impossible for us to remove those numbers from the photo without degrading your image.

2. Don’t send Polaroid photos. In most cases they don’t reproduce well.

3. Don’t mark on the back of photos with pens, pencils, or marker pens.

4. Don’t send black-and-white or color copies from copy machines.

5. Don’t send prints from ink-jet printers.

6. Don’t send your only copy of an irreplaceable photo. We can’t be responsible for photos lost or damaged in the mail or anywhere else.

DIGITAL PHOTOS

What To Do:

1. Remember the photographic basics mentioned above.

2. Learn to use your digital camera. Read the user guide. You may discover some interesting and helpful pointers.

3. Send digital photos that measure 250 pixels per inch (ppi) (or more) at the intended reproduction size in the Journal. The resolution vs. size equation isn’t the easiest thing to understand, but here are a few clues that might help:
The typical digital camera, on its low-quality setting, shoots a photo that is 640 pixels wide by 480 pixels high. That photo will appear at a size of approximately 8.9 inches wide x 6.7 inches high when shown full-size on a Macintosh computer monitor, depending on monitor resolution settings. (The size will be just slightly different on a Windows computer.) This works out to approximately 72 pixels per inch (ppi). The photo might look great on your screen at this size, but for professional quality offset printing (the printing method used by the Wild Ones Journal) this same photo will have to be reduced to a size where there will be at least 250 pixels per inch (250 ppi). This means the photo that looked so big on your computer screen will print in the Journal at a reduced size (approximately 2.5 inches wide by 2 inches high). That’s quite a size difference, and may mean that the photo will be too small for us to use.
The solution is to set your digital camera to a “higher quality” setting, or preferably “highest quality” (depending on the megapixel rating of your camera) so there will be more pixels per inch. Because different cameras shoot at different pixel settings in their various ranges, we can’t give you exact settings to use. For general purposes, the more pixels the better. It shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to look through your camera’s user guide to see how these settings work.

4. Remember that because you are viewing your digital images with light shining through the pictures, photos viewed on a computer screen almost always look brighter, more colorful, and often “better” than photos printed on paper. If your photos have lots of very light areas and/or very dark areas, much of the detail you see on the screen may not appear once the photo is converted to grayscale and printed in the Journal. If your photo is over-exposed or under-exposed (too light or too dark) we’ll do what we can with it, but poorly exposed photos will always print with loss of detail.

5. Stay in the RGB color mode, which is the default setting for almost every digital camera.

6. Save your photo files in PSD, TIFF, or high-quality JPEG formats. Avoid any “low-quality” settings.

7. When e-mailing photo files, send no more than one photo attached to each e-mail. If you’re sending four photos, send four separate e-mails.

8. Include caption information for each photo in the separate e-mails.

9. Include the name of the person who took the photos.

10. Include a statement of permission for Wild Ones to publish the photos. If someone else owns the copyright on the photos, include a statement of permission to publish from the copyright holder.

11. Include your name, contact information, and why you’re sending us the photos.

12. Before e-mailing photo files that are over 4 megabytes in size, send us a note at editor@wildones.org so we’ll know what to expect. We will e-mail you back with further instructions.

13. Consider copying your photo files onto a CD-ROM and mailing them to us rather than sending lots of huge files over the Internet.

What Not To Do:

1. Don’t convert your photo files to CMYK, black and white, LAB, grayscale, or any other color mode. Stay in the RGB mode, which is the default color mode for almost every digital camera.

2. Don’t shoot your photos in “sepia” mode.

3. Don’t try to “improve” your images by using your software to sharpen the images, correct a “red eye” problem, or make major adjustments to the darkness or lightness of the photos.

4. Don’t use your software to try to “retouch” any problems with your photos.

5. Don’t use the “time and date” feature on your camera. It’s time-consuming and sometimes impossible for us to remove those numbers from the photo without degrading your image.

6. Don’t try to “improve” or raise the resolution of your photos with photo-editing software. Trying to enlarge an image this way just enlarges the pixels along with the size of the photos, or uses a process of interpolation so that the software tries to “guess” where to add pixels and what kind of pixels they should be. Either way the results will probably be unacceptable.

7. Don’t save JPEG files at high compression. The higher the degree of compression, the more chance for JPEG artifacts and jagged images, resulting in lower image quality.

8. Don’t save picture files as JPEGs, then open the files and re-save them as JPEGs again. If you find it necessary to open a file and re-save it, save the new version of the file in an uncompressed format, such as a native Photoshop (.psd) file, or a TIFF file.

9. Don’t tag your files or embed profiles from any color management system into your files.

10. Don’t embed your photo files in a Word file, PDF file, or any other kind of file. It’s often difficult or impossible for us to extract a useful image from these files.

SCANS OF PHOTOGRAPHS OR ILLUSTRATIONS

What To Do:

1. Scan your photographic prints or illustrations using a good scanner. We realize that the scanner and associated software you own is probably “home quality” rather than professional quality equipment, but use the best scanner you have available.

2. Clean the scanner glass before scanning.

3. Wipe away any dust on your image.

4. Learn to use your scanner and its software. Read the user guide.

5. Lay your images on the scanner as straight as possible. Rotating later in an image-editing application can cause loss of quality.

6. In most cases, unless your original photos or illustrations are very large (8×10 or larger), set your scanner to scan the images at 100% at 300 pixels per inch (ppi). If you scan at the default setting of 72 ppi, your scans will look big enough on your computer screen and will work OK for our web site, but the size will be reduced considerably for professional printing. The resolution vs. size equation isn’t the easiest thing to understand, but here are a few clues that might help:
Assume that you have scanned a photo, and the resulting file measures 640 pixels wide by 480 pixels high at 72 pixels ppi. That photo will appear at a size of approximately 8.9 inches wide x 6.7 inches high when shown full-size on a Macintosh computer monitor, depending on monitor resolution settings. (The size will be just slightly different on a Windows computer.) This works out to approximately 72 pixels per inch (72 ppi). The photo might look great on your screen at this size, but for professional quality offset printing (the printing method used by the Wild Ones Journal) this same photo will have to be reduced to a size where there will be at least 250 pixels per inch (250 ppi). This means the photo that looked so big on your computer screen will print in the Journal at a reduced size (approximately 2.5 inches wide by 2 inches high). That’s quite a size difference, and may mean that the photo will be too small for us to use. The solution is to set your scanner to a “higher quality” setting, so there will be more pixels per inch, such as we have recommended here. In most cases, this would be 300 ppi – although with your scanning software you may have to choose a different setting such as 250 ppi – or your software may refer to dpi (dots per inch) rather than ppi, or may just refer to it as “highest quality.” Because different scanners work at different pixel settings and modes in their various ranges, we can’t give you any exact settings to use. For general purposes, the more pixels the better.

7. Create your scans in RGB color mode and keep them in RGB mode. Your scanner software may refer to RGB as “full color,” “true color,” or maybe just plain “color.” It’s almost a sure thing this will mean RGB.

8. Go for the best scans you can get. If you’re not satisfied with your first scan, try again after making adjustments to your settings. Any adjustments made after the scans are created have the potential for lowering image quality, even while making the pictures seem to look “better.” So work at getting the best possible results directly from the scanner.

9. Save your files in PSD, TIFF, or high-quality JPEG formats.

10. Keep a copy of all the files for yourself.

11. When e-mailing your scans, send no more than one scan attached to each e-mail. If you’re sending four scans, send four separate e-mails.

12. Include caption information for each scan in the separate e-mails.

13. Include the name of the person who took the photos or created the illustrations you’ve scanned.

14. Include a statement of permission for Wild Ones to publish the photos or illustrations you’ve scanned. If someone else owns the copyright on the photos or illustrations, include a statement of permission to publish from the copyright holder.

15. Include your name, contact information, and why you’re sending us the scans.

16. Before sending scans that are over 4 megabytes in size, send us a note at editor@wildones.org so we’ll know what to expect. We will e-mail you back with further instructions.

17. Consider copying your scan files onto a CD-ROM and mailing them to us rather than sending lots of huge files over the Internet.

What Not To Do:

1. Don’t convert your scans to CMYK, black and white, LAB, grayscale, or any other color mode. Stay in the RGB mode, which is the default color mode for the vast majority of scanners.

2. After scanning, don’t try to “improve” the images by using your software to sharpen the images, correct a “red eye” problem, or make major adjustments to the darkness or lightness of the scans.

3. After scanning, don’t try to “improve” or raise the resolution of your scans with your software. Trying to enlarge images this way just enlarges the pixels along with the size of the images, or uses a process of interpolation so that the software tries to “guess” where to add pixels and what kind of pixels they should be. Either way the results will probably be unacceptable.

4. Don’t use your software to try to “retouch” any problems with your scans.

5. Don’t save JPEG files at high compression. The higher the degree of compression, the more chance for JPEG artifacts and jagged images, resulting in lower image quality.

6. Don’t save your scans as JPEGs, then open the files and re-save them as JPEGs again.

7. Don’t tag your files or embed profiles from any color management system into your files.

8. Don’t embed your scans in a Word file, PDF file, or any other kind of file.

OTHER NOTES

Address initial submission inquiries to Barbara Benish, Journal Editor-in-Chief, editor@wildones.org.

The Journal Editor-in-Chief reserves the right to accept or reject all submitted materials.

The Journal Editor-in-Chief reserves the right to edit all submitted materials.

The Journal Editor-in-Chief reserves the right to set the publication date for submitted materials.

Wild Ones Natural Landscapers will not pay fees or make any other payments for the use of submitted materials.

While we can’t do the impossible, we will do everything we can to work with your photos, digital photos, and scans “as is.” These guidelines are important and necessary, but in some cases we can work around certain problems. Contact us at editor@wildones.org with any questions. We will consider changes to these guidelines as printing technology changes, or as the quality of consumer-level photographic and scanning equipment improves.

© Christian Nelson, 2004 – 2006.