Asking Your Opinion on The Size of Photos on My Blog
NOTE: Images with an icon next to them have been artificially shrunk to better fit your screen; click the icon to restore them, in place, to their regular size.
desktop background image of the Zenryuuji Temple (善龍寺), Kyoto Japan  --  Zenryuuji Temple (善龍寺) Kyoto, Japan  --  Zenryuuji Temple and Inari Daimyou Shrine (善龍寺、稲荷大明神社)  --  Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/500 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
Zenryuuji Temple (善龍寺)
Kyoto, Japan
Desktop-Background Versions
1280×800  ·  1680×1050  ·  1920×1200  ·  2560×1600

You may have noticed that the images were a bit smaller in my previous post about Fumie's pointe shoes, compared to the sizes I normally use (such as in the post before that, full of, uncharacteristically, shots of me).

For years, I've followed a basic pattern on my blog for landscape-orientation photos — those wider than tall — giving them a basic width of 690 pixels, but yesterday's were a bit smaller at 600 pixels wide. For portrait-oriented images — those taller than wide — I have traditionally gone with 700 pixels tall, but yesterday limited it to 500 pixels tall.

Depending on your particular combination of viewing hardware, screen settings, and personal preferences, you may prefer one way more than the other, and would even perhaps even like to see the size go further in one direction or the other.

Since I can't know or predict each person's viewing hardware, screen settings, and personal preferences, I thought I'd ask: for a photo-heavy blog like mine, what do you think about the image size?

Does it perhaps depend on the subject? Still life vs. human interest? Maybe you feel one way about the landscape-oriented temple shot above, but differently about the portrait-oriented portrait below?

The Always-Affable Paul Barr patiently waiting for me to put the camera down and finish my coffee, so we can meet some other friends for the wine tasting at Kyoto Station  --  Kyoto, Japan  --  Copyright 2012 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 50mm f/1.4 — 1/640 sec, f/1.4, ISO 5000 — map & image datanearby photos
The Always-Affable Paul Barr
patiently waiting for me to put the camera down and finish my coffee,
so we can meet some other friends for the wine tasting at Kyoto Station

There's no “correct” to this — it's all personal preference — so please let me know what you think in the comments below. (And my Mom asks me to reiterate the request for comments to include the city/country you're writing from, just for fun.)

I doubt there will be a magic “Goldilocks” just-right consensus, but I won't know until I ask, so I'm asking.

And while I'm at it, let me ask what you think about the duotone temple shot above, which I took on the outing that produced this amazing and colorful photo. I'm not sure the vibe of that photo, the whole “everything out of focus except for the tree trunk on the side” thing, really works... I flip flop between “it's really nice” and “it's tripe!”. I dunno.

The color version (seen below) was so vibrant... this was at the height of the fall-foliage season... that I decided to take it as a challenge to try a black & white version, but thought I'd get a little crazy and try a duotone by hand, something I'd never done. I futzed around with a bazillion different looks, from dark and moody to bright and cheerful, and finally got so dizzy with it all that I just stopped, and the lead photo of this post is what I had at the time.

Here's the color version:

desktop background image of the Zenryuuji Temple (善龍寺), Kyoto Japan  --  Zenryuuji Temple (善龍寺) Kyoto, Japan  --  Zenryuuji Temple and Inari Daimyou Shrine (善龍寺、稲荷大明神社)  --  Copyright 2011 Jeffrey Friedl,
Nikon D700 + Nikkor 24mm f/1.4 — 1/500 sec, f/1.4, ISO 1000 — map & image datanearby photos
Zenryuuji Temple (善龍寺)
Kyoto, Japan
Desktop-Background Versions
1280×800  ·  1680×1050  ·  1920×1200  ·  2560×1600

The same location is also seen in the last four photos on this post.

Looking forward to hearing what folks think about all this!

All 27 comments so far, oldest first...

Go big or go home is what I always say

— comment by Rosewood on May 28th, 2012 at 9:21pm JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

At “laptop friendly” photo forums that I visit the usual sizing is 800 px wide landscape, and 700 px high portrait. It seems to work well for a laptop at full screen, leaves room for navigation or information columns or rows. These sizes are still small enough that plagiarism is unlikely.

I really wanted to see the last image in the “pointe” larger. It is a beautiful shot and nicely converted to B&W.

Werner, from Vermont USA

— comment by Werner on May 28th, 2012 at 9:43pm JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

I mostly follow you through Google reader and of course I come directly to your blog when I want to send you a comment. I have to say that your layout is much better then in Google 🙂 But Google is more convenient for the amount of blog reading I do! I’m using IE on Windows and my resolution is 1280 x 768. For me, the size of the portrait picture you used in your last post is just perfect. I can see the picture all at once wich is wonderful without needing to do extra step like opening the picture itself or changing the apparence of my browser so it can fit. The lanscape pictures are fitting just fine even for the one in this post 🙂 I hope that helps. I really enjoy reading your blog 🙂 Have a wonderful day.

— comment by Pesc on May 28th, 2012 at 9:45pm JST (10 years ago) comment permalink


I have two 24″ screens, so I have enough working space, therefore for me the bigger picture the better. Actually I just wanted to thank you for posting your pictures as you might not realize, but I learned more on the day-to-day Japan from You than from anyone else. Keep up the great work!

(Budapest, Hungary)

— comment by Zsolt Arkossy on May 28th, 2012 at 9:48pm JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

Photo size really depends on what I’m using to view your images, also how far I am seated from the monitor. However, as of now I’m using my iPad so the image of Paul is “just” too tall to fit within the screen (iPad horizontal), the temple image is comfortable. Large images are OK for pixel peeping, but often because the image is larger than that which the eye can comfortably view, are not easy on the eye. Chris, Hong Kong

— comment by Chris on May 28th, 2012 at 10:11pm JST (10 years ago) comment permalink


I have enjoyed your blog and your pictures for the last few years now. Interesting to be “part” of the life of a family that has never seen me or even heard of me… Thanks for sharing!

The pictures could be of the bigger size for me, screen size is no longer a problem to most. I think a photo-blog (a blog with photos…) should show off the best it can offer, in the best size possible.

Like you said, a question of personal preference 🙂

Best regards from Winnipeg, MB

— comment by Henk on May 28th, 2012 at 10:18pm JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

Maybe google analytics could give you an idea on your visitors: on my site, the most popular screen resolutions are (in decreasing order): 1680×1050, 1920×1200, 1920×1080, 1440×900, …

Otherwise, I’d like a ‘light-box’ effect when I click on a image (instead of just opening the jpeg), that would fill up my browser independently of my screen resolution. That’s just a personal preference, I can see arguments either way.


— comment by Luc on May 29th, 2012 at 1:47am JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

In looking at your images, there’s not that much difference in the two sizes of landscape that I have a preference either way. For portraits, however, the larger sometimes cause me to have to resize my browser window (Mac laptop). In spite of this, the larger size of portrait-oriented images makes a greater impact, I think.
(Commenting from lovely, but rainy, Portland, OR, USA.)

— comment by Gretchen on May 29th, 2012 at 2:27am JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

I took another look at the photos in your last post, and I thought “hmm, smaller works OK” .. Then I looked at a post before that and though, “Hmm, larger also works OK”

I guess there really isn’t an easy answer…

The larger size works for me on my monitor (1920×1280) but I don’t think I’d want them getting any larger. The smaller size also works for me as the details are still prominent, and I can always click on them to get the ginormous version in order to see smaller details; so really, it doesn’t matter as much

Probably off-topic, the only thing I might suggest, but this may be against your style I, is to make the general body font two points smaller (it’s 16px now, so maybe 14px?).. You’ve made it larger, I imagine, for a wider audience to always have an easy time reading the font.. But in terms of visual appeal, I think smaller would be better, and with proper elastic design, it’s not hard for anyone who needs to, to increase the font size of the page. Thoughts?

Take care of yourself!


I never use absolute font sizes for running prose, and for years in the 90s fought a (losing) battle at Yahoo! to have absolute font sizes abandoned, because how big it actually appears on the screen is dependent upon things the HTML author can not possibly know. Anyway, not sure where you’re seeing 16px, but perhaps check your browser settings. —Jeffrey

— comment by Sebastien Benoit on May 29th, 2012 at 2:46am JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

I find the portrait orientation example you posted to be to be much better than the size of the portrait orientation shot in the post about the pointe shoes.

For Landscape orientation, I think that they would look better if they were a bit bigger than you currently use, but that would likely break your fixed width site and not everyone is using a 24″ monitor.

-C. Dewan
Los Angeles, CA USA

— comment by C. Dewan on May 29th, 2012 at 4:22am JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

Your image sizes are fine. I often follow the links to the larger sizes, so the initial image size really doesn’t matter. BTW, I use a 30-inch cinema display and a Mac Pro desktop system. Regards, Tom in San Francisco.

— comment by Tom in SF on May 29th, 2012 at 5:03am JST (10 years ago) comment permalink


I always prefer bigger-size photos.

Most of the time I view your blog on an a small work laptop through an RSS feed in Google Reader. I’m not sure wether your pictures are downscaled by Google. However, if I find some nice shots I go to your blog directly. Perhaps even look at some photos full-size. But sometimes I look at them from my 22 inch screen. Smaller resolution pictures become quite tiny on this screen.

Plus, pictures tend to come across better with increasing size, imho.

As for your Mom’s request, this is being typed in Stuttgart, Germany.

Third question: I like the duo-tone picture. I do something similar with some of my shots. Usually only on portraits. However I prefer a more reddish tone (even called the preset “Reddish” in LR).

— comment by Andy on May 29th, 2012 at 6:16am JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

I have to admit, I would probably not have noticed the difference. I usually read your blog via the RSS feed with Google Reader or an iPad app – thanks for the full content feed btw.

I enjoy the big pictures and they fit nicely both ways of viewing. So I vote for keeping them bigger.

Take care,

Marc from Cologne, Germany

— comment by Marc D on May 29th, 2012 at 6:18am JST (10 years ago) comment permalink


I like it better with the bigger image, but if you change to the smaller side, it’s fine 🙂 Most of the time, I load the photo in full size anyway.

From Quebec, Canada

— comment by Myriam Dumas on May 29th, 2012 at 6:44am JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

Ten yrs ago i would want smaller images because i was stuck with dial up. I feel that your images are sized ok. I feel that images longer than 800 pixels is not needed. Comcast and other internet provider’s are going to a data cap plan that could effect some viewers.
viewing on 15.6″ notebook
1.3mbs DSL ATT
Rockport TX near Corpus Christi.

— comment by Ed Pouso on May 29th, 2012 at 7:05am JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

The current dimensions are pretty good. I have a 24″ iMac and usually read in either NetNewsWire or Safari.

It may be worth having some JavaScript on your site to see what dimensions people’s screens and browsers are:

Upcoming releases of CSS will support checks for DPI. From a local news paper web site:

[link rel=”apple-touch-icon-precomposed”
media=”screen and (resolution: 326dpi)”
[…] iphone.icon.highres.png” /]

The “media” attribute is available in CSS3:

For example, this media query expresses that a style sheet is usable on devices with resolution greater than 300 dots per inch:

@media print and (min-resolution: 300dpi) { … }

If you have “small”, “medium”, and “large” versions of your images, it may be worth using CSS3 properties to dictate which is displayed depending on the device capabilities. In general a smaller image for a general idea of the photo / subject is fine (and saves bandwidth costs, for you and for mobile users), and if folks want a closer look a link to a larger version should be sufficient.

— comment by David Magda on May 29th, 2012 at 8:48am JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

May I extend a great big THANK YOU to all who mentioned from where they were writing? How fascinating to see where everyone is writing from. I believe that most of you find it interesting also, at least I am assuming so. I know Jeff and his Dad and siblings do. Thank you again.
Jeff’s Mom, in Rootstown, Ohio, USA (That’s a very small town near Kent State University, where Jeff grew up, for those who are newer to his blog.) 🙂

— comment by Grandma Friedl, Ohio, USA on May 29th, 2012 at 9:13am JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

Photo size: Not sure 600 vs 690 or 700px makes a lot of difference. Either size works well for me, giving a good overview of the picture, since I rarely have my browser in a maximized window. I hadn’t even registered that the ‘Pointe’ series had smaller images. To some extent it does depend on subject, too, as you suggest, and I think slightly larger for portrait format is a good idea. In any case there’s always the option to click through to a large image, which I frequently use.

Duotone: personally I don’t care for the effect, which looks to me like something from a 19th century photo album, i.e. (with respect) not very original. Not sure about the focus on the tree, either. It’s not ‘tripe’ at all, just not for me. I’d like to see some experimentation with black and white versions, as I can see the benefits of taking out the colour from the very vibrant original – but it’s all very much subjective.

Peter, just outside the village of Llangeitho in mid-Wales

— comment by Peter in Wales on May 29th, 2012 at 6:00pm JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

Size does not matter :). I read your blog for the journey. I live in Massacusetts, USA and will never get to Japan. Through your eyes and photography skills it’s like being on tour. And the family stuff makes it feel even more personal. I read your blog mostly in an iPad app. My hope; just keep on blogging (and developing the Lightroom plug-ins). Thanks.

— comment by Dave on May 29th, 2012 at 6:09pm JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

I prefer ’em big. I come to your blog not only to hear what you have to say, but to look at your photos, and I always do it from a big screen because looking at photos on little screens is no fun. So the bigger the better.

On the duotone: To be blunt, I think it’s nothing special. Not because it’s a duotone, but because the original is also nothing special, at least in the sea of much more special photos that grace your blog.

To satisfy your mom, I suggest you add a box for location alongside name/e-mail/website/Turing test. I’d be much more likely to include it every time that way.

— comment by Mark Sirota (Philadelphia, USA) on May 30th, 2012 at 12:15am JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

I think the size was quite right, the smaller ones are ok too, but slightly bigger is better (especially for the landscape shots).

The duotone version of Zenryuuji Temple photo is just much more interesting than the original color one, it is a nice shot. Maybe you could try more B&W…

And I’m writing from Prague, Czech Republic.

— comment by Franta on May 30th, 2012 at 5:42pm JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

Jeffrey, the size in your case does not matter for me. I enjoy your posts with stunning photos and I always impatiently wait for new posts. I use my BB Playbook to read the posts on the way and after I read them again and wonder how it is possible to shoot such nice photos… If the space is not an issue for you, then bigger is better.
For your mom: currently from Bratislava, Slovakia, but usually from Prague, Czech Republic… or some other places I am visiting… 😉

— comment by Boris on May 30th, 2012 at 10:23pm JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

Hi Jeffrey,

Like many others above, I also prefer the larger size photos. They provide more details that smaller sized photos can’t and I can use them as desktop images without seeing those grainy pixels.

Your other question, I prefer the sepia tone of the the first picture and not the full color spectrum shown in the original.

Bob — currently in Lagos, Nigeria.

For desktop images, one can always click through to the larger version (or, for images that I explicitly supply in desktop-background versions, the links under the picture). My question this time is more about the versions that appear inline with the prose when you first load the page. Thanks, BTW, for everyone’s comments… it’s really wonderful to hear the different viewpoints.. —Jeffrey

— comment by Bob on May 30th, 2012 at 11:21pm JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

For portrait orientation it may depend on how you have your browser set. I keep mine basic with just a tab and the address bar.
The image above”The Always-Affable Paul Barr” just fits. To see the text i must scroll down.
As long as the image fits i’m happy.
Being able to click through to the larger image is great.

— comment by Ed Pouso on May 31st, 2012 at 2:21pm JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

I’m another one who tends to read your blog via RSS feed into Outlook as opposed to going to the page itself. However, I do come occasionally such as now of course! Interestingly, for blogs that don’t show the whole post in the RSS feed, I always click on the link to view the original. Perhaps if you went that route, it would mean all of your readers were seeing it as originally intended. Maybe not everyone would click like me though so it is your choice. Always enjoy your writing. (I am in Chicago by the way Grandma Friedl.)

— comment by Rob Edgcumbe on June 1st, 2012 at 2:33am JST (10 years ago) comment permalink

Keep ’em big!

— comment by Mike on June 19th, 2012 at 5:21pm JST (9 years, 11 months ago) comment permalink

Keep ’em big.
I need the pixels so when I steal your pix I have enough data to play with.

— comment by lisa on August 6th, 2012 at 4:36am JST (9 years, 9 months ago) comment permalink
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