HiQ photos, 5: Photoshop

There are many different way to do the same tasks in both Photoshop and in The Gimp. In a later post I will explain about the adjustment layers and other wonderful tools. But today the focus is how to make your photos stand out in the quickest possible way. The steps below might seem complicated at first but i don’t spend more than 1-2 minutes in Photoshop for every photo that prepare for the web and you will soon be that quick to…. and believe me… it is worth every minute!

1. Start Photoshop and open your snapshot.

2. Crop the photo. It is important to try to focus on what we want to say in the photo and get rid of other distraction things and let the eye have an easy path for understanding the photo. With the HiQ setting we now have a much bigger resolution to work with. A normal photo now can be like in this example 2880 x 1704 pixels and normally we don’t want bigger photos that 800 pixels on the longest side for photos intended for a blog or the forum of InWorldz. That gives us plenty of space to play with.

Press C to activate the crop tool. Put the mouse arrow in the upper left corner of the desired area hold down the mouse button and drag to the lower right hand corned. Let go of the mouse button when you have the right area selected. If you made a mistake just press ESC and redo it once more. If you want to have an even square, then hold down the shift-key and drag with the mouse. This  is perfect if you plan to post at flickr for example, because square photos looks best there.

3. Levels. Often the photos from InWordlz gets exposed wrong in the parts of the photo that we think are the important ones. After the crop it is time to adjust the exposure. The easiest way is to do that with a tool called Levels.

Bring up the Level window with the short key Ctrl-L (PC) or CMD-L (Mac). Often there is no info staples at the rightmost part like in this image. The photo is badly exposed in photo language. If so drag the rightmost handle to the left until it touches the staples of black. Sometimes you need to do the same at with the left handle and drag it so it touches the first information staples. Lastly you might have to adjust the middle tones with the handle in the middle to make the exposure perfect.

I hope you see the difference between this images and how they looked before. I happens very often that photos from InWorldz gets this way and are wrongly exposed in my opinion. Now you know a good trick to fix that…  😉

4. Saturation. Many photos will look washed out, pale and uninteresting right out of InWorldz. To increase saturation a little bit is an easy way to give them more “punch”.
Open the Saturation window with the short key Ctrl-U (PC) and CMD-U (Mac). In the middle you find the slider for saturation. I often use +15 increase or so. Look at the photo below to see the difference to the one above

5. Make the final size. I normally choose 800 pixel at the longest size, that works good on Flickr, blogs and forums. If it is already smaller than that then that’s so… just leave it. Never make a photo bigger without special tools.

Call up the size tool with the shortcuts Ctrl-Alt-S (Photoshop CS3) Ctrl-Alt-I (Photoshop CS5). Change Ctrl to CMD on the Mac. Now be sure that the link tool (marked by the red  arrow here) is turned on so that the proportions don’t gets changed. Then enter 800 in the field with the highest number and click OK.

6. Sharpen it. This is always the final step and must be done after the photo is in its final size. I have a plugin for this. It is called Photokit sharpener but it is a bit expensive. For my RL photos i need this but for InWorldz the built-in tool unsharp mask is good enough. You find that tool in the menu Filter/Sharpen/Unsharp Mask.

Settings: Amount=300 – 400 (if you get white borders like sugar crust at hight contrast areas, then lower to 300),  Radius= 0,3, Treshold= 0…… thats it. Press OK when it looks good.

7. Save your masterpiece! Normally you should save in a non compression format like PNG. BUT!!! The forum only accepts JPG-files and only up to a size of 250 KB and that means that if your files are supposed to be posted in the forum you have to save them as JPG and lower the quality to maybe 10, so that the file size is below the 250 KB limit.

Call up the save as dialogue with the short key Shift-Ctrl-S (PC) and Shift-CMD-S (Mac). When I am done with a photo i normally save it in a dedicated folder called, Blog, Forum or Out, so that i easily can track what photos are post processed and so on. I also change the filename and ad something like out to the name to further make that clear.

Change the Format to PNG, but if it is intended for the forum change to JPG instead and press Enter. With JPG you get the quality dialogue now. Drag the quality slider so you get a file size just below 250 and press Save!

Below you can see the final result of our work… please compare that to what we started with…   ;o)

If you have endured all this way…. WOW… you are really wanting to make great photos!!! Now save those photos for the upcoming photo contest to be announced soon!

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