Printing Tips: Beach Exhibition

Sizing your photograph for the BHCC beach exhibition

Resizing your photograph to fit an A1 print size for the beach can be very confusing!

There’s been questions from people submitting photos for the The Beach Exhibition 2020-21.

In this article, I’ve tried to explain what you need, and how to get there.

It helps to understand a bit about the parameters first. Trade-offs are often possible – ultimately, it’s down to what you hope to achieve. There is no absolutely “correct” size, but there are a few desirable things to have in place if you want good quality. Notice I said ‘good’ – not ’top’ quality – because good enough is fine for our purpose here. It’s a beach show, not a New York Salon, and it’s always better to put up an acceptable print than no print at all – so don’t be put off by the numbers.

A lot depends on pixels

To put it simply, the more pixels you have, the better off you will be.

However, we’ve found that acceptable results can be had from a phone camera, or an old DSLR, or even a compact camera giving 10MB. 

I once saw such an image exhibited in the Landscape Photographer of the Year show at the South Bank, and it looks fine – so don’t be put off showing if this is all you have!

A lot depends on the image

If your photo is a sort of blurry, fuzzy, grainy and gritty type of action shot, (think Robert Capa’s D-Day landing) or perhaps a soft and foggy dreamlike portrait, or something similar – you can probably get away with very low resolution indeed. It’s not the best approach – but it does seem to work sometimes. Many have done it and lived..

But if you are hoping for an impressive, searingly sharp, well detailed and tonally beautiful quality, you do have to try harder! 

A lot depends on knowing what you have

You may or may not know what resolution your camera makes. Read the manual and it tells you!

Failing that, software often can too. Open the original file in Photoshop, Lightroom, or Affinity for example, and you will find an ‘Image Size’ dialogue which shows you the exact dimensions and allows you to change them. 

If you don’t have these, perhaps you know someone who does and ask them to help. 

  • Mac users can right click on a file and go to ‘Get Info’ and it will tell you the file size and dimensions. You can change them under the ‘Tools’ tab in Preview. 
  • PC users can use ‘Properties’ in the same way.

Sometimes, .jpgs appear with their dimensions included beneath, but I’ve found this unreliable if the file has been edited.

A lot depends on cropping

If you have severely cropped your image, i.e. cut bits off, it will not ‘blow up’ to a large size as well as you might hope. The more you crop, the more final quality you throw away.

This is why good photographers try to fill the frame – so they don’t have to crop.

A lot depends on how big you want to print

Prints are a lot more demanding than monitor screens.

A photo that looks great on a 15 inch monitor may not look as good on a print, especially if it’s an A1 print. 

A lot depends on knowing what’s optimum

So – what should we aim for then?

Well, there’s a good deal of wriggle room, so don’t get too stuck on what you “should” do. But here’s a few practical tips for a good looking print:

  • Try to make your photography as good as you can. Obviously.
  • Try not to crop.
  • Find out what your photo’s real dimensions actually are.
  • Ignore File Size – it’s NOT the same thing as Image Size.
  • A good starting point is to use software to aim at about 200-300 pixels per inch (ppi) in your image AFTER it has been sized to A1 (594 x 841mm) 
  • Try not to drop below 200ppi if you can help it.
  • Higher than 300ppi is not necessary and just increases file size.
  • Try to occupy the A1 print space fully, and use the available proportions. We won’t change the print size or shape, so a 10 foot long panorama will fetch up 2’6” long by 2” high, and be invisible!



What happens to my print after the show?2020-08-03T21:45:36+01:00

We will try our very best to give it back to you!

Will my photo survive on the beach though a Brighton winter?2020-08-03T21:45:11+01:00

Yes. It will be mounted on aluminium sheet and coated with a tough laminate, and fixed down with stainless steel security screws.

What if my photo is entirely the wrong size or shape?2020-08-03T21:44:44+01:00

You have a problem. Fix it or seek help!

What if my photo is slightly the wrong size?2020-08-03T21:44:11+01:00

No problem. The printers can probably fix it.

Can I have another colour border?2020-08-03T21:43:14+01:00

Sorry, no.

What if my photo is square?2020-08-03T21:42:50+01:00

No problem. It will be centralised, but on a horizontal print. 

Any surrounding area will be white.

What if my photo is vertical not horizontal?2020-08-03T21:42:27+01:00

No problem. Both work well. We just hang them appropriately!

What colour space should I save my file in?2020-08-03T21:41:54+01:00

‘Get Info’ (Mac) or ‘Properties’ (PC) will tell you what it actually is.

These days, sRGB is fine, and again keeps the file size to a minimum.

You may need Photoshop, Affinity, Capture 1, or Lightroom etc. to change/save this.

What jpg quality (level of file compression) should I set it to?2020-08-03T21:40:12+01:00

Maximum, ideally – though reducing to 9-10MB from 12MB, or 80-90%, still looks excellent yet can reduce the file size dramatically, making it upload much faster.

What file format should I upload to the club’s website?2020-08-03T21:39:12+01:00

.jpeg only.

No Photoshop, TIFFs, or other formats please!

Is file size a reliable guide to quality?2020-08-03T21:40:45+01:00

Not at all.

Image size and resolution is a much better guide – but if your image is full of unintentional camera shake, poor exposure or contrast, lack of focus or awful composition, none of these will help!

Will ‘upsizing’ my print’s small PPI count make the photo look better?2020-08-03T21:38:13+01:00

No. It will just make the file bigger and harder to process. Though in some cases, it may be the only way to attain the required print dimension. Try it and see.

How can I change it?2020-08-03T21:37:14+01:00

You will need some kind of image processing software.

Why is resolution important?2020-08-03T21:37:44+01:00

From a long way off, it’s not. As you get closer to the print, it will look soft or ‘jaggy’ if its resolution is low. This is a pity if you paid £56 for your print!

What is print resolution?2020-08-03T21:36:11+01:00

A good indicator is PPI – Pixels per Inch.

A print resolution of 200ppi will show 200 pixels along every inch of print length, and usually the same for height.

Thus a 200ppi resolution print with a size of 11 x 8 inches will have an image size of 2200 x 1600 ppi.

What is a good resolution for an exhibition print?2020-08-03T21:28:46+01:00

Magazines often print at around 240ppi, so that would work well; anything between 200 – 300ppi is optimum.

An A1 print at 300ppi is 9933 x 7016

An A1 print at 200ppi is 6622 x 4677

How big is the actual beach print? How big is the white border?2020-08-03T21:28:04+01:00

Print: 590 x 840mm approx.

Border: 25mm on 3 sides, nominally 65mm on the bottom, depending on actual proportions of your image.

2020-08-03T22:08:30+01:003rd August 2020|BHCC Exhibitions, Workshops|