What is a JPEG (.jpg)?

A JPEG is a digital image format for on-screen viewing. JPEGs allow file sizes to be very small without much loss in quality. The Windows suffix for a JPEG is .jpg. JPEGs support over 16 million colors, but slightly "distort" the image to compress the file size. For most photos, the human eye cannot tell the subtle changes in color, but along straight edges and in pictures with large solid colors, distortion can become very apparent.

When you save a file as a JPEG, you will be offered a choice between different levels of compression. You may want to test different levels before uploading your files to maximize quality while uploading the smallest files size possible (which takes less time). Where this setting is located varies with different image software, but most have a 1-100 quality setting that you can set (some use 0-10 or 0-12). Higher quality means less distortion but larger files. It is important to find a balance between the two remembering that files under 500 KB seem to work best.

If you are using Photoshop, you should use the "Save for Web..." option from the "File" menu. This feature further reduces the file size by omitting the thumbnail and preview from the .jpg file, which are not used on the web. When using the "Save for Web..." option, be sure to choose JPEG for the compression format.

Also make sure to save all files in RGB color mode, as CMYK will not display correctly for the jury.

Please note: Since a JPEG is a compressed file it will re-compress each time you save it.

This will cause repeated reductions in file size and ultimately degrade the quality of the image. You should save your images as Photoshop (.psd) or TIFF (.tif) files while you are working on them and then save them as JPEGs when you are ready to upload.

How does resolution/image size work in a digital image?

A digital image is made of pixels, little pieces of visual information that are square and uniform in size. When a scanner digitizes a print, slide, or negative, it acts like a digital camera converting the image into pixels.

Resolution is measured for digital images by the number of pixels in each square inch of the image, ppi (pixels per inch). Fewer ppi (a lower resolution) makes each pixel larger, revealing to the eye that the image is made up of little squares (the ugly effect called "pixellation"). More ppi - a higher resolution - reduces the size of each pixel, and the image will look sharper. High-resolution images are required for enlarging the image onscreen or printing the file. Images with a lower resolution, like those on Internet sites, are better suited for viewing on a computer monitor, which has a set number of pixels per inch (72 ppi) that it can display.

When you work with a digital image, you have the option to change the size of the image and the resolution. These settings will appear in the "Image Size" dialog box available from the "Image" menu in Adobe Photoshop. You also have the option of setting these parameters when you use a scanner or a digital camera. It is easy to reduce the size and resolution of an image without drastically reducing its apparent quality. Even an extremely low-resolution image will look fine if it is very small, because the number of pixels per inch will meet or exceed the resolution of the display. Things get ugly when you try to enlarge the image beyond the limits of its original resolution.

Shoot or scan your original image at a higher resolution and/or a larger size than the final output requirements. You can reduce your final image to the size and resolution required - 1920 pixels at the longest side with 72 pixels per inch. Standardizing submissions at that size and resolution guarantees that we will not need to adjust your image.

Why are you measuring in 'ppi?' Isn‘t it 'dpi?'

Dots per inch (dpi) is a measure of image resolution used for printing. It's the number of dots of ink the printer drops on each square inch of paper. Your application will be viewed on a computer screen, where resolution is measured in pixels.

Are the jury's computers properly calibrated for color?

While there is no way to guarantee that the color settings on the jury's computers will exactly match yours, we will instruct the jurors to view your images on a monitor calibrated to Adobe (1998) RGB, which is the current standard. This will ensure a nearly uniform color as possible. If there are color effects vital to your work that you feel are lost in translation to a digital image, point them out in your annotated image list.

How should I go about creating and saving digital images of my work?

You have many options. It is possible to engage the services of a professional for any part of preparing the images, and you can learn to do any part for yourself. Before you start, consult a good book on digital photography and imaging. Even if you have no intention of ever touching a computer, familiarizing yourself with the terms and techniques involved will reduce the potential confusion and frustration involved in learning a new technology.

Shoot digital photographs of your work. If you have access to a professional quality (5 megapixel or higher) digital camera, this may be a good option. Unless you are comfortable and familiar with the process of taking professional-quality digital images, you should consider having this done professionally. Many photographers, studios and photo-service providers shoot digitally now; with a little research you should be able to find one nearby.

Then you will need to edit and format your images. How you do this depends on how comfortable you are working with computers and digital images and what your development service can do for you.

Some photo-service providers will be able to correct and size your images and burn them to a CD. Others may only be able to give you the raw digital files, requiring you to size and save them on your home computer or somewhere else, like Kinko's or a local computing center. You will need to research your options, which will vary depending on where you live, how tech-savvy you are, and how much you are willing to spend.

One of the advantages of computer technology is that there are many ways to get access to the technologies you need. Most professional photo services will be able to do most or all of the work of digitizing your images. Many public libraries have computers available for public use. Public agencies and community organizations often offer computer services. Service providers like Kinko's or a local Internet cafe offer varying levels of technology access and support.

Visit the Resources page for some good starting points.

What type of software will I need for my images, résumé and statement?

To size and save your images, you will need use a computer equipped with a recent version of Adobe Photoshop, or another imaging program like Corel Paint Shop Pro or Microsoft Digital Image Suite.

For the résumé and and artist statement, you will need Microsoft Word, or another word-processing program that can save a SimpleText (.txt) or Rich Text (.rtf) file, like ClarisWorks, WordPerfect, or TextEdit. Your résumé and artist statement should be 500 kb or smaller.

When you apply online, you will create the image list by entering text into fields when you upload your images.