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Friday, 19 October 2012

Photo Tips Friday: Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos

Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos

I thought it was about time I did another Photo Tips Friday post... it's been a while, and I've lots more tips to share with you! 

So following on from basics covering camera equipment essentials, how to achieve bokehphotographing in bright sunlight, etc., I thought I'd write about some basics about what to do with those photos now you've followed all my advice(!!) and produced top quality, sharp images for your outfit posts:

CLEAN UP will show you how to get rid of annoying nasty bits that distract from the main subject (that's you) and subtly enhance tone and contrast

RESIZE will make all your images the same width

OPTIMIZE will show how you can utilise free websites or free/cheap apps to create creative and subtle (or not-so-subtle, depending on what you want to achieve) special effects.

Now please note that there are many, many options in terms of what application you could use; there are dozens of free websites or cheap apps available, but I will just give a few examples of what I think may help. The main thing I personally use for my photos is Photoshop, but as it's not cheap I won't give any Photoshop examples - I want this to be an accessible post to everyone from students to bloggers who don't even own a camera (yes, you read that right!). There are many different ways to do things, so don't think I am telling everyone "this is the one and only way to do xyz"; please take these ideas and develop your own ways of creating beautiful images!


1a. Clean up - remove nasty bits

Not everyone agrees with touching up photos to get rid of unwanted nasties; from facial blemishes to cigarette butts, it is totally your choice how "real" you wish the photo to be. Personally, I think it's entirely up to the blogger whether or not they clean up their photos this way.*

I take the stance that photos are not an exact representation of what was actually in front of the camera. I've had comments from bloggers saying that they love my pairing of mint and pink... the actual colours I was wearing were teal and purple. It was simply down to the light at the time changing how my clothes photographed and reacted to that light. It doesn't matter, but it goes to show how a photograph is simply an interpretation of a scene. So if you do remove a nasty cigarette from the floor or a small but bright traffic cone in the background, it won't detract any attention away from your fabulous outfit - and in my book there's nothing wrong with that!

What to use for cleaning up?

The one I read about most often is PicMonkey http://www.picmonkey.com - and although I use Photoshop to touch up any little bits and pieces, from what I've seen of this website it really is the doggy's you-know-whats of image manipulation. Unlike Photoshop, it's user-friendly because it gives you actual recipes that are relevant to us bloggers: there's a whole make-up section with Blush Boost, Shine Reduce and Blemish Fix, for example. For the purposes of post photos requirements (i.e. not turning me into Alexa Chung), I subtly touched up one of my most recent images using PicMonkey.

I re-edited my original photo from scratch (where I used Photoshop) with PicMonkey to get rid of the mud on my shoes and all the bits of wet leaves and twigs on the floor:

Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos
[Mud on your shoes is a common occurrence when you're a countryside dweller searching for shooting locations!]

When I touched up the photo for my post, I simply got rid of the mud on my shoes - it was my last entry for the M&S Job Interview Style Blogger Challenge, so I felt justified in touching up the photo as you wouldn't turn up for an interview with mud on your shoes...! But for the sake of this post, I went further in PicMonkey and cleaned up all the ground around my feet. I also "erased" the bruises on my right shin - I didn't do this on my original post, but it shows how easily it can be done using this application. I used the "clone" option from (strangely enough) the make-up section for my shoes and the ground.

PicMonkey is VERY easy to use, and the possibilities are endless - from subtle changes in tone, brightness, or colour cast, to full-on changing lipstick or hair colour. How far you want to take it is up to you.

*Not that I know any bloggers that do this, but if you are doing a major air-brushing job à la monthly glossy, it might be nice to let your readers know how you've manipulated the photos...?


1b. Clean up - adjust tone and contrast

I adjusted the colour cast and brightness/contrast of this photo using PicMonkey as the original was taken in slightly different light to that of the full length shots. It was so much colder (bluer) than the rest of the images, and I wanted to warm it up to make it blend in with the other shots.

Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos

I optimized the brightness, shadows, highlights and contrast under Exposure, and adjusted the saturation and temperature under Colours. It makes for a more pleasing image, and closer to how my hair looks in bright outdoor light.


2. Resize to make images all the same width

Much to my detriment I am a perfectionist. Although in theory it 's a good thing (as a kid I had to colour in neater than anyone else), when compiling blog posts, I simply have to have uniform font styles and sizes and photos all the same width... it does create more work. I don't know whether other bloggers don't mind the difference or if they don't know how to make them all the same width - but if you're the latter and would like to know how, here's my way of doing it!

Now obviously all blogs platforms are going to vary; I use Blogger and so am only familiar with their format. But I'm sure this part is uniform across all platforms: it's simply a case of looking at your HTML coding and making sure your image widths are the same on every image - that's itBut how do you do that?

In Blogger there are two ways to upload photos into your post - using the "insert image" button, or embedding the HTML code from Picasa, Flickr, Photobucket, etc. Both work absolutely fine and will allow you to upload nice large images. But, as far as I can tell, inserting an image directly does not give you the option of resizing to any exact pixels size. To see if your method of uploading images allows you set an exact width, insert an image in your usual way and take a look at the HTML code for it, as below:

Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos

What you need to see is two measurements of height and width. If you don't see these, you won't be able to make all images exactly the same width. So you either choose to leave them as they are, or you need to embed them. I use Flickr to store my photos; the way to embed them is by using the "Share" option which offers a "Grab the HTML/BBcode" option. This HTML code has the height and width which is essential for resizing.

Your images can be whatever size you want them to be, but the largest size possible (without losing quality) may be a small width depending on the size of the images your camera produces. If you do have photos that are high-res enough to be made smaller from the originals, I think it's worth having large images on your blog.

The tricky bit (bear with me - it's worth it!)

The only part that's not so straightforward, which you may have realised already, is that if you change the width without proportionately changing the height, you will end up with either a very squashed photo or a very tall thin one. What you can't avoid to amend this is a teensy bit of maths, I'm afraid! So I've broken it up into three easy steps:

1. Decide what your uniform image width is. Your blog format will have a set width for the blog posts, which can be increased or decreased, and ideally the images should completely fill that width without seeping over into the sidebar. My blog's maximum image width is 685 pixels.

2. When I take the "large" image option from Flickr, the width of upright images (taller than they are wide) are thankfully all 685 if I haven't cropped the picture. So it doesn't matter what the height is, an upright picture will fit in perfectly... job done.

3. Landscape (wider than they are tall) images are the ones I always have to change, for example:
The dimensions are height 685 x width 1024 if I haven't cropped the image or resized it in Photoshop.

The maths bit:

To make the width 685, the same as upright photos, I have to calculate current width ÷ desired width, or 1024 ÷ 685 = 1.49.

(So 1.49 is the magic width dividing number I have to remember).

Therefore I have to do the same with the height:

Current height ÷ width dividing number, or
685 ÷ 1.49 = 459.
459 is now the new height for my landscape images.

Simply remember this: if I never, ever cropped pictures before uploading to my web album and they were either upright (height 1024 x width 685) or landscape (height 685 x width 1024), then I can leave upright ones as they are, and landscape will always have to be changed to height 459 x width 685. I don't have to do the maths every time - the two dimensions are stuck on a Post-It note near my computer. It's only if you've cropped or resized images that you have to do some more complicated maths; that's for another post maybe...?!


3. Optimize - add special effects to your images

I've mentioned PicMonkey already, and this can be used for creating fun special effects as well as cleaning up your pictures. Other ones to try are:

http://pixlr.com
http://www.flamingtext.com/imagebot/editor
http://tiltshiftmaker.com

TiltshiftMaker is great for creating the effect of miniature scenes with outdoor landscapes, rather than outfit post pictures. So if you have some holiday photos to throw in, consider using TiltshiftMaker:

Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos

The best types of images to use are those taken in bright sunlight, with a slightly higher viewpoint; if people and/or cars are included then the effect of little miniatures are heightened. If you like, use PicMonkey first to increase brightness and contrast - the effect will be even more convincing.


Use apps to add special effects to your phone photos

No camera but you have an iPhone? If you think you can't produce great outfit posts because you don't have a DSLR, or any camera at all, think again. You probably know you can add some colour casts and frames to what you upload to Instagram, but the choices are limited. Try these:

PicFX app
Add faux bokeh, picture frames, scratches, a retro colour cast... the list goes on and on. It's similar to what Instagram does, but x 100 in terms of effects choices:

Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos

Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos

Picture Frame apps
There are loads of these apps to choose from - upload multiple images to make one. They have many layout options and you can vary the proportions and manipulate the borders:

Instagram

Clean Up, Resize, Optimize Your Photos

I think this one is excellent if you don't have a DSLR, because you can take photos with your phone or tablet's camera, then create little montages that look really stylish to create an interesting outfit post. Upload them from an Instagram Web Viewer like Webstagram to an image hosting website, then embed them into your blog posts.

To see an example of how well this can work, there is a hair and makeup artist I follow on Instagram (no blog that I know of unfortunately) called Miche - StyleMeetsNoEnd. Her outfit composites within these picture frames look so stylish, and she keeps to the same format every time. While I'm a big fan of large, high-res photos, I appreciate the bold, graphic design feel these have and think they would look great uploaded onto an actual blog as the standard photo format.

Looking for some more apps for your phone? Rather than me listing them here, take a look at this link which lists lots of great ones:

http://www.officespaceforrent.org/blog/9-awesome-iphone-photography-apps-you-might-not-know-about/
(Thanks for the link, Eric!)

..........................................................................................................................................

So this is just the tip of the iceberg of what you can do to improve the quality, style and variety of your photos during the editing process. I fully appreciate that there will be many, many more free websites and apps to use - if you have more suggestions for everyone please do leave them in the comments below!


I wanted to prove that it's possible to produce great images without splashing out on Photoshop or any other high-end software - and it's possible to be a fashion blogger producing great outfit posts even if you don't own a camera.

I hope this has been of some help - as I always say, let me know how you get on!!

Catherine x

P.S. Happy weekend everyone - do come back tomorrow for a new outfit post!

32 comments:

  1. Thank you again, Catherine! Your tips are SO helpful; I've bookmarked all of them.

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  2. Really good post and so helpful for people like me who know nothing. I just use a happy snaps camera but if there are tricks to be learned then I am willing to learn. Going to go and read through the rest of your series on photographs now. I don't know what bokeh is and I'm intrigued.

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  3. Such a helpful post!! Your pictures are always so beautiful! I love using picmonkey, too...but I usually can't decide what to do with my pics. Thanks for the tips!!

    April
    http://knockedupfabulous.com

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  4. The only reason I wish I had an iPhone is because of the PicFX app. I love that app! This is a great post. I do most of my photo touch ups through iPhoto on my mac and then do some minor adjustments on PS Elements. But resizing photos is a must for me too! :) <3

    toni

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  5. I love your photo tips! I have read all of them now, just need to put them into action.

    Off to look at Picmonkey now!

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  6. Thank you for this. My pictures have been really blurry lately when I upload through blogger so now I've tried flickr and I'm never going back.

    P.S. I have a proposition for you - look for an email soon!

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    Replies
    1. Ooooh I'm intrigued, Franziska - I'll keep an eye out for it! Thank hun xo

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  7. Thank you so much for sharing this and the previous Photo-Fridays! Your pictures look SO professional, yet warm and original. I have still a lot of work to do in this department..I am going to read through these posts very carefully! Have a lovely weekend too,
    http://styleidoscope.blogspot.de/

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  8. These are such useful tips. Picmonkey is really user friendly. I haven't tried resizing my photos yet but think I'll give it a go now. Good luck with the M&S competition. x

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  9. Thanks for this post. Invaluable tips and Picmonkey sounds like a great resource. Enjoy your weekend.

    http://www.robincharmagne.com

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  10. Wow I wondered how all of these bloggers got such great results. My blog photograph are subpar because I'm so unaware of what can be done. My other issue is I think my photographs always make me look so top heavy. Granted I am but I noticed when people take my picture that are actually photographers they don't come out that way. I think it is the angle that the camera is held. Anyways this post gives me lots of ideas for how to improve my blog. Thanks for sharing I have admired your blog for a while now. www.wearthehat@atblogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the lovely comments, Adrienne! I think the best way to get the best results is practice, practice, practice... and experiment! Good luck xx

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  11. Your pictures are gorgeous! Thanks for the tips - I need to take photos for my Etsy shop, and since I don't like the technical stuff, the simpler the better!

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    Replies
    1. Val I'll be doing another Photo Tips Friday this week about photographing still lifes, and how to get great results without a studio or special lighting - stay tuned! C x

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  12. Thank you, Catherine! Your series is incredibly helpful. I'm not currently doing any re-touching besides the odd basic crop / straighten, and may never have the time or inclination to do much, but it is so interesting to see and understand the processes. Your picture quality is always incredible without appearing fussed-with - lovely!

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  13. Thank you so much. I use PicMonkey and found Colour and Expsure and Crop and..... the make-up section. What I needed was the clone option. Could not find it. For exactly the same reason you use it. Not to make myself into a plastic Barbie but to erase the things that distract. I leave my wrinles. So again thank you.
    Greetje

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    Replies
    1. I've just checked PicMonkey, Greetje - it's actually called Touch-up, so I got that a bit wrong... but it gives you the makeup options for sure: it's got a little lipstick icon? If you scroll to the bottom, it's the very last option - it's called Clone and has a picture of a row of red nail polish bottles. Hope that helps! xo

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  14. Your tips are SOOO helpful. I have not stopped looking through your blog. I have been looking for helpful tips that don't make me feel incredibly "dumb" afterwards for not "getting it." Thank you!
    xo,
    nancy

    http://adoretoadorn.blogspot.com

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    Replies
    1. Oh, good, Nancy - I do try to write them so they're user friendly, so thank you!!! Even with a degree in photography and being pretty proficient in Photoshop, I still read some posts on photo tips and stop reading after a while because they go right over my head (too much jargon)... so if I don't understand it how will anyone else?!! x

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  15. I was so excited to try to switch my landscape to the same size width as the other ones but It came out looking long and warped..do you think it's cause I cropped it first? Does it always work for you? Maybe I did something wrong?

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    1. Have you resized the height as well accordingly, Sheree? If you divide the width by half, for example, you need to divide the height in half as well... it's never THAT straightforward though, dividing by two I mean! If you read the bit that says "The tricky bit" under no.2 I've written the formula to work it out. If not - email me and I'll see if I can work it out for you!

      Lots of love hun xoxo

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    2. So you think it should work even if they are cropped?
      I have a a lot of pics for my next post that I am going to try this with..if I still can't get it to work I will e-mail you.. Thanks Catherine..out for drinks and sushi now :)))))))))

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  16. One of the best things about your pic tips is apart from the very useful info (I had no idea what a bokeh was until now), I get to see heaps of your outfits:)). I really love the skull scarf with the spotty skirt:)).

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    Replies
    1. Yeah... it's a bit of sneaky self-promotion, isn't it, Desiree?!! (heehee) Thanks sweetie, glad I've shown you something new x

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  17. such great tips! I was wondering what the app was that I see instagrammers using that adds in those spots, now I know. Thanks!

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  18. Completely OT I know, but is that Pentire Point?

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  19. Great, great tips though I don't know when I would find the time to do all of this editing.

    http://thriftyandshameless.blogspot.com

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  20. Love your tips! Although I don't know if I would go through so much trouble re-sizing the pictures. I think I would rather make them the size that I need in Photoshop and then just select "original size". But I love adding special effects

    happymedley.blogspot.com

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  21. Really helpful. I use Photoshop Elements, Photoshop for Dummies, essentially. But I have always wondered how you get the lighting effect in your pictures. Do you shoot at sundown? Always that beautiful golden light...

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  22. I'm learning a lot about taking and tweaking photos. Can't wait to try these tips out. Thank You for these lessons!

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Thanks so much for leaving me a comment! I love and read them all - and if you want a reply then don't forget to check the "Notify me" box so you know when I've written back :)

Catherine x

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