My friend Molly is always looking for powerful images as a prompt for rich discussions in her online class. She usually completes a quick Google search and finds pictures that look promising; however, when she stretches those images they become grainy. Her students are less than impressed. What a waste of time! Ugh! What if there was a trick that would help Molly find images that look great regardless of their size? There is a solution! Anyone who targets a search for high resolution images can find and use great graphics. Want to feel proud of the pictures you find, too? Here’s how to find great pictures every time: look for lots of pixels!
The images we see on a computer screen are digital pictures. These digital images are made of small squares, just like a mosaic tiles called pixels (a portmanteau word made from picture element). Generally, the more of those little digital mosaic tiles, pixels (abbreviated px), we have in an image, the clearer the picture will appear to us. We generally refer to this as image resolution. If we keep that in mind when searching for images we can find crisp looking images and avoid grainy graphics.
Suppose Molly needs a very sharp image of Charles Dickens (she teaches lessons about literature, after all). The first place I’d suggest she look is the Creative Commons Search site (CC Search). Why? In addition to leading her to high resolution images, CC Search will also help Molly identify a greater number of images she can modify, adapt, build upon, and use for commercial purposes. Though she could search through all kinds of places at CC Search, I’d guide her to select Wikimedia Commons as it’s a safe bet that the content there isn’t going to lead to copyright hassles.
After Molly’s search returns a few images, I’d draw her attention to the pixel count on each picture. An image that is 1,300 pixels wide and 1,852 pixels wide means that the picture has a total of 2,407,600 pixels! Wow! That picture will have a higher resolution which means more image detail.
The more pixels in an image, the better that image is going to look if Molly has to increase the image in size; however, given the size of the image, that’s pretty unlikely. An added benefit of choosing a higher resolution image is that the image will look good if she has to decrease its size.
In the past, even though she’s ferreted out a great image with great resolution, Molly’s made a mistake. She’s copied the thumbnail picture of the image she’s settled upon using. If all she copies is the thumbnail image of that great Dickens image, she’ll be disappointed. The thumbnail is only 84px x 120px, totaling a paltry 10,080 pixels–ugh! If she stretches that small resolution image out, she might get something like this:
Thankfully, Molly clicks on the thumbnail which is a link that takes her to the read-deal image with the higher pixel count (and better resolution). In fact the image she finally gets to is enormous. The high resolution image is so big that she has to decrease it in size. Here’s what her final image looks like compared the thumbnail. Much better, Molly!
Now that Molly knows the secret to finding excellent looking images she’s on her way to quite a few rich discussions with her students. She can also teach her pupils how to track down better pictures for the multimedia presentations she wants them to create.