My Photo Album (Part 1)March 18, 2014 at 2:00 pm | Posted in Non-fiction Essays | 3 Comments
While printing photos to sell on eBay, I decided to produce a set of “favorite photos” for myself. All these pictures are stored on my computer, organized so I can easily find them (although I doubt anyone else could). When I use Photoshop, they are depicted approximately the same size on my 27” computer screen as they are in print form (approximately 7½” x 10”). So why spend the money? Each print costs $2 to $3 in photo paper and ink. (I only use premium paper and my top-quality photo printer eats ink cartridges.) After considering how many I discard because of errors, the price is closer to $5 per photo.
The answer is that a printed photo often has a different impact on the viewer when compared to one on a computer screen. That is why, after printing what appears to be an excellent representation, I sometimes notice errors that must be fixed.
The answer does not lie in the pixels per inch (ppi) measure. My personal computer images are maintained at a high ppi. Even when drastically lowering the ppi level for posting on Facebook or one of my WordPress sites, relatively little definition is lost. If blown up, that low ppi image has jagged edges, but at a relatively normal size, one that fills a 14” computer screen, there seems to be little information loss for the viewer.
Therefore, the brain must process information from the different mediums in distinct ways. When I view a photo produced using a high dot-per-inch (dpi) printer, I experience a “Wow” effect. Sometimes. Not always. I’ll talk about the exceptions later.
I have discovered a similar dichotomy between books and e-readers. Books allow me to slow down and speed up at will, depending on the nature of the material. They permit me to linger over a particular phrase, a complex paragraph. A story on an e-reader seems to say “go, go, go – don’t linger.” For this reason, although I own both an e-reader and a tablet (a Kindle Fire), I have stopped downloading books that I really want to digest. The Kindle Fire is a perfect companion for ferry trips and waiting in doctors’ offices. It is suitable for reading magazines or James Patterson novels – highly redundant material – but not for stories requiring careful attention to details and thoughtful reflection.
Although the e-reader provides a better overall reading experience than the tablet, I still find it more challenging to read well-written books on it with the same thoroughness I give these books in print form.
What little research there is on this topic has concentrated on the differences between reading print versus e-books. A Scientific American article, after looking at research evidence, concluded that e-readers may “prevent people for navigating long texts … [and] subtly inhibit reading comprehension.” (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/reading-paper-screens/)
And so I’ll stop here for now. According to the research, this is about as much information most people can comprehend on a computer before fatigue sets in, and they start skipping words and paragraphs. Stay tuned for “My Photo Album (Part 2).”