When conference goers at the recent Romance Writers of America convention in Dallas, Texas talked shop, the question “Does size matter?” came up at frequent intervals, especially at the Passionate Ink luncheon (RWA Chapter of erotica authors).
They were comparing megapixels.
Megapixels? What the heck is a megapixel? you ask. With the explosion of digital cameras available on the market, it’s a hot topic and one you can’t ignore when choosing a camera. My first digital camera was a cumbersome Sony 1.3 megapixel, which used 3 Â½ inch floppies to record pictures. Imagine stuffing your purse with twenty floppies. Not fun. Now I use a Canon PowerShot SD600 that’s small and light and weighs less than six ounces. I love it.
So what is a megapixel? Here’s my interpretation: Digital camera images are made up of rows of colored dots, something like the Impressionist painting style known as Pointillism. These colored dots make up a canvas or rectangular grid that gives you the whole picture when you look at it from a distance. If you’ve ever stared at an Impressionist painting in a museum, you know what I mean. Up close, it resembles a bunch of colorful dots (black was not included in the Impressionist palette), but viewed from far away it becomes a breathtaking panorama of the artist’s vision.
When you shoot a picture with your digital camera, you are the artist and these same dots are called “pixels.” Each pixel used in a digital camera is either red, green or blue (usually with twice as many green pixels). How many dots or pixels are on a page? Rows and rows, like wildflowers swaying in a field. For example, an picture of you at the RWA conference on a web page might be made up of 500 rows each with 400 pixels in each row. The total number of pixels is 200,000. That’s a lot of wildflowers.
According to experts, these pixels contain a number of different brightness values, usually 256 in screen displays (I prefer 1024) or 4096 in camera images. Because digital camera images are generally larger than this, we talk about their sizes in terms of Megapixels (Mp). 1 Mp = 1 million pixels. So the 200,000 pixel image of the hunk you want to use for the hero in your next book is 0.2 Mp.
Want to make your pictures smaller? This is one time it’s easier to drop a few pounds, I mean, pixels, than it is to gain them back. To increase the pixels or dots, you have to guess the values of the extra pixels you need. Some software programs claim to do this, but like fad diets, they’re not always successful.
So, how many pixels do you need? If you’re buying a camera to view your pictures on your web page, you’ll need fewer pixels–1.3 will suffice. If you want to print them on standard 4×6 prints or make postcards of your latest bookcover, you’ll need at least 1.5-2.3 Mp; for enlargements of 8×10 for your author head shot for your press kit, you’ll need 4-5 Mp.
Although I primarily use my Canon Powershot for my website images and video, I bought a 6 Mp because I wanted the option of changing the size of the images. I usually shoot 1600 by 1200 so I can reduce and crop to a smaller size.
Now if could just figure out how to drop 5 pixels, I mean pounds, with the click of a mouseâ€¦
Jina Bacarr spent many hours studying the size ofâ€¦hmmâ€¦pixels in Impressionist paintings for her latest Spice book, NAUGHTY PARIS, a time travel about the raucous and erotic world of 1889 Paris.