[Photography] Submitting digital photos to print


Did anybody have experience with submitting digital photos of your
work to the jewelry shows or magazines?

I hear everywhere that only slides are acceptable, which seems a bit
strange in this digital age. Magazines will scan in and digitize all
their images anyway, so why slides?



I save my digital photos onto a diskette and send the diskette to a
photo lab where they convert it to slides. One photo per diskette. I
was able to do this all through the mail because I was leaving town
for 3 months. They sent me slides of my pictures one week later.
Everything was perfect. Call in your area to see which photo labs do
this. I used Creative Visuals in Kalamazoo. Good luck.

Carol Whearty

My recent experience with two different trade magazines were that
they would prefer slides because of the many variety of formats used
for digital imaging. Only one format for slides. I did find out that
one of the magazines would accept digital because my format matched
theirs. so ask the editors or production people which they prefer and
give them what they want and whatever is easiest for them. You are
the one that wants to get your picture in their magazines. I
personally use Seattle Filmworks for all my developing and get
slides, prints, negatives and digital all from the same roll at the
same time. I then can convert the digital to different formats on my
home computer as well as have hard copies and slides for other uses
and negatives for duplication. Very reasonable cost about $20.00 for
36 exposure. Frank Goss

Hi Ruslana, First off, the problem in resolution is what is called
"generations". For example, a photographic print is really a second
generation of a photographic negative. Each generation will lose some
definition, even though it is so slight. A slide on the other hand is
a “first generation” product…recorded right from the lens.

Today, to maintain the highest quality most magazine production
houses “digitize” from first generation products, or slides. They
want the best quality they can get as the digitizing becomes a second
generation and then the plate making for the press becomes the third
generation. In the actual printing of the magazine, the beautiful
color pictures becomes the fourth generation…I hope I didn’t lose
you on this.

Just as some of our offspring will lose some of our best personal
qualities …it is the same in photography…(best analogy I can
think of) Ron Stephens

I know I submit my photos and drawings for technical articles on
electronic media (Lapidary Journal), and they’re perfectly happy with
it. But, the photos they print are small, and we work hard to get them
down to the smallest size possible, so they don’t wind up with a
zillion disks. Sometimes it doesn’t work. Those little gremlins are
awful busy buggers. This requires me to upload the images to their
server, after I’ve figured out where the problem lies on my end.
Although the images are acceptable, when you start enlarging them for
the size they require for the fine resolution, you can’t get it from
the digital image. There are problems with the lossy format of JPEG,
and the physical size increases the size of the file exponentially.
In addition, most publishing houses work with Mac computers, which
have a different operating platform than PC’s. When it comes to file
types, there are only a few types which can integrate between the two
operating systems, and most people don’t have the types, which are
uncompressed file types, which will integrate.

I’m sure some of the more computer literate members will explain it
better. It will change in the future as the technology progresses.
After all, how many of us had even heard of digital cameras 5 years
ago? Two years ago, a megapixel camera was almost unheard of at the
consumer level. Until the technology at the consumer level becomes
available to produce the high resolution necessary for producing a
fine picture, we’re still stuck with submitting slides and regular
photos to realize the clarity and color the magazines want.

If you don’t want to submit slides, call the magazine and ask for the
graphics department. They’ll tell you what type of photo (like
glossy) and the size with which they prefer to work. Scanners are
another invention which allows them to bypass making plates, and
slides are no longer necessary to make a photoetched plate. If you
live in a large city, you might find it helpful to tour a publishing
house to see how it’s done.

Dear Ruslana, Magazines prefer slides to digital images for several
reasons. First of all, magazines use images of far greater resolution
than is common in digital images or even slides scanned by photo
bureaus. This is necessary to get the same print quality we are used
to with traditional four-process color. I shocked my service bureau
once by insisting on 25,000 dpi – which was the lowest acceptable
quality for our design house! This level of resolution is not easily
achieved on anything less than expensive drum scanners – the flatbed
scanners used by most of us at home do something in the neighborhood
of 1200 dpi. In a magazine of high print quality, the difference is
noticeable. A digital image that looked great on a computer screen may
look really lousy when it gets into print – not what you want to
have happen.

Secondly, magazines need flexibility in sizing. There is a limit to
how much a digital image can be sized up or down. This is very
limiting to the art director, who may want to splash a great photo
across two pages, but can’t because it was submitted at a size only
suitable for 1 column width. (And wouldn’t you really want the art
director to be able to use it larger?) Down sizing poses similar
problems – if it was sent as a two page size, it may be impossible to
get it to the 1 column size the art director needs. (And wouldn’t you
rather have it used 1 column wide than not at all?)

There’s also added challenges with the many different formats used
for digital images: there’s just more room for things to go wrong.
Some formats won’t work with certain design programs (and design
departments don’t always have the most up-to-date software!), while
others work, but only if you fight and argue with it. Some work, but
not very well – the image is fuzzy or can’t be sized or whatever. If
you must send digital images, be sure you find out what format the
magazine uses – and be aware that different magazines may use
different formats.

With so many things to go wrong, most magazines would rather work
with the original slide and scan it themselves than have to cope with
the many and multiple headaches that come with digital images. Slides
are a standard format, with little to go wrong. I’ve had any number of
occasions when the digital images submitted wouldn’t open in Quark
(the design program used by most – but not all! – magazines), were
some weird format Photoshop didn’t recognize, had been submitted on a
media we weren’t equipped for (such as Zip disks in their early days),
had been corrupted in transit and were now unreadable, etc., etc.,
etc. When a slide comes in, you know you can use it. When a digitial
image comes in, you pray you can use it without wasting hours
struggling with it. If the art direcctor is on a tight deadline (as
we always seem to be), he or she may just chuck it aside in favor of
the sure thing.

Oh, by the way – magazines also can’t use postcards, brochures, or
other printed pieces. This once again comes back to the resolution
used by the magazine. If you take a magnifying glass and look at
printed pieces, you’ll see lots of little colored dots, which is what
makes up the image. When you scan at the high resolutions magazines
use, what you see is those little colored dots – not the image. The
result is not attractive, especially if the photo had to be sized.
Photographic prints are all right, and most magazines can work with
those. Slides are better, though, because the colors are truer :
prints are more dependent on the ability of the developer for their
color balance, offering a greater opportunity for some color blind
yokel at the lab to turn your blues green. Slides also seem to scan

I know it’s a pain to have to use old technology such as slides, but
you really will be happier with the results – not just because
magazines will be more inclined to use them, but the reproduction
quality will be much, much better. And remember, never send the
originals! Duplicates aren’t that expensive to make, and the one time
you absolutely must have the slide back will be the time the slide
you mailed out got lost. All magazines work very hard to keep track of
the slides they request, but they go through a lot of hands, so
there’s lots of opportunity for one to go astray. We don’t like to see
it happen, but, well, Murphy’s law being what it is, it usually
happens when something is irreplaceable.

If anyone has any other questions about magazines and why they work
or why editors do the things they do, don’t hesitate to ask. I’ve been
a writer, an editor, and an associate publisher for jewelry trade
magazines, and I’ve worked in almost every aspect of magazine (and
newspaper) publishing. I’d be happy to answer anything I can, and if
I don’t know, I have lots of editor friends I can ask.

Suzanne Wade
Phone: (508) 339-7366
Fax: (520) 563-8255

Ruslana, the jewelry shows project the slides. No getting around
that one. Print media asks for slides because it’s easier that way.
If you are submitting to a magazine, call and ask what format they
prefer (jpeg? tiff?). Ask what resolution to provide. Send hard
copies with the file names/descriptions so there are no goofs. I’ve
had people be surprised and pleased that digital files could be provided. -Dana

Ron’s description of loss of definition with each successive
generation of a copy reminded me of an experiment I did some 20 years
ago. I Xeroxed a crisp, sharp page of text from National Geographic
Magazine. The Copy (2nd Generation) looked just as sharp as the
original. So I copied the copy and got a 3rd generation product. The
3rd gen. copy looked just like the 2nd, but when compared to the
original, VERY slight differences were apparent. I continued this
process of making successive generations of copies. The 15th
generation of text was totally unintelligible!! Incidentally, (lest
you think this was a frivolous exercise) many biologists think that a
process similar to this is responsible for the aging process. The
cumulative effect of VERY slight errors in DNA replications over a
lifetime leads to “unintelligible” DNA molecules. These faulty
molecules direct the building of faulty cells, that don’t do what they
are supposed to do. When enough cells don’t work, we die. Isn’t it
fascinating how a thread on taking photos of jewelry can lead
logically to analogous problems in cell biology? Seems like everything
is linked to everything else at some level.
Regards…Bob Williams