Going digital

Q. I’m submitting a couple of works to a local art show and thought I might do a digital submission. How can I prepare a digital submission, and what are good resources I can refer to while doing this?

A. First, make sure you don’t just assume the local competition organizers will accept digital representations of your work instead of slides. Check the contest rules and, if the rules don’t specify one way or another, ask the competition organizers. If they do accept digital submissions, then you’ll have two options: Use a digital camera or convert a slide into a digital format.

If you use a digital camera, make sure it has a resolution of at least 5 megapixels (8 to 10 is better) and take the photograph in good light—natural north daylight is best for the highest-quality color rendition. Remember to use the “fine” mode when you shoot the picture.

After you take the photo, upload the image to your computer and open it in a photo-editing program such as Photoshop Elements (available for $99.99 from www.adobe.com) or Google’s free downloadable Picasa (picasa.google.com). Getting the on-screen version of the painting to look exactly like the actual painting will be difficult: You’ll be comparing a projected image to the reflected color from the surface of the painting. Just do the best you can to adjust the color of the digital image so it matches the color of the actual painting as closely as possible.

Next, save the color-corrected image in the highest-quality format you can. TIFF gives the best resolution, but JPEG is the most common. Then burn the image to a CD and send it via standard mail or just e-mail the images to the competition, depending on the contest instructions.

Instead of burning your CD at home, you could take the camera and memory card to a store that has photo kiosks and ask the clerk for help in burning a CD. (Remember to bring your own blank CD.) This generally costs about $1.

If you’re converting a slide—either made by yourself or a professional photographer—to a digital image, you’ll want to use a service that converts it for you because the process is too complicated and time-consuming for the average artist to handle.

Many online services such as the Utah-based Larsen Digital Services (www.slidescanning.com) convert the slide images into digital files and burn them to a disc for about $1 per slide, but companies usually have a minimum purchase amount so you could get many slides converted at the same time. Because the images are burned as JPEGs or in another universal image format, you’ll be able to open them in photo-editing software to correct color or any flaws in the image, if necessary. To find a local slide-converting vendor look in the Yellow Pages under “Photo Finishing-Retail,” or use Google (www.google.com) and search for “convert slide to digital image” and your location.

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