Most images are not meant to be used as wallpapers. Freely available images are either too small or poor quality for this purpose. See how to get the most out of what’s available with the best online tools. High quality online image resizing is the key here and if it’s free all for the better! Read on to find out more.
People say: There already are many beautiful pictures
In principle that’s correct, but relative to the number of existing images, they represent a very small fraction. Try a Google Images search for anything and look at the quality and sizes of the results. How many would you like for your background? The answer is most probably none or, if you’re lucky, a few.
You could also look at user-rated collections of images. Take deviantart.com for example, it has a large number of pictures (42 million). Their all-time ranking has good images in the top 1 million at most. It means that only approximately 2% of the images are worth something. Among them, only a small part have the adequate resolution. So probably less than 0.5% are good wallpaper material.
Still, there are many images to choose from. But, when including the size factor and your personal preference this number decreases a lot.
Fixable image defects
While there theoretically are good quality images that fit your profile finding them is the biggest problem. Because of the large fraction they represent, poor quality images are the most probable result of any search. Many of these are just plain useless, but some of them can be improved.
The most common problems with online pictures are: excessive noise, compression artifacts, wrong focus/blur, over/under exposure, non-fitting color tints, over-sharpening and small size.
Adjusting the adjustable
Photoshop has several features that could come in handy. For each of the defects, here are the solutions (partial sometime):
- Excessive noise: reduce noise filter
- Compression artifacts: reduce noise filter (check the reduce compression artifacts option)
- Inappropriate blur: smart sharpen
- Exposure correction: shadows/highlights adjustments and levels
- Color tints: auto-color, levels on color channels
Photoshop has a problem with upsizing. It introduces to much blur and this cannot be corrected by sharpening. The problem seems to appear most frequently with web-images. Read on and see why.
Why small sizes?
First, images are have low resolution because some of the other defects. How so? Blur and noise disappear when the image is shrank. Photographers know this, and when posting images on the web they resize them first to look better.
Second, it’s because price varies with size. Giving away larger images means giving away more money. This is why professionals tend to stick to very small sizes when putting them on displaying. It increases the exposure without the risk of somebody inappropriately using their works.
There are other reasons for small sizes like the lower resolution of some displays and the limited space available on web-pages to name just a few.
Repairing will-be wallpapers
The techniques already presented can be applied to general purpose images. Because desktops have different aspects (the ratio of the width to height is 5/4, 4/3, 8/5 etc) changing from one to another in some cases is problematic. Multiple methods can be used here: cropping, stretching and non-destructive extension.
- Cropping: When an image has a larger aspect ratio and needs to fit on a smaller ratio screen cutting it is a good solution. Just take the part that’s most interesting and leave the rest out. In this case some of its width is removed.
- Stretching: While theoretically no information is lost, the resulting image is often very distorted.
- Non-destructive extension: The idea is to make a crop. But this time try to remove only the parts of the image that are less informative (blurry regions). For more information look for the seam carving algorithm.
Best photo upsizing is here
All the good stuff has to wait until the end. There is a way to increase resolution without creating blur, noise and also reducing over-sharpening ringing. Overall it’s a great method to enlarge images maintaining their quality. It’s called reshade and you can find it right here at reshade.com. It has a simple to use interface also providing standard cropping and resizing to your own screen resolution. Try the online image resizing engine now!