This post is about how I process and present my photos. Prepare to be bored . . .
Some of us share our photos in a number of different venues. I even occasionally print mine. In each case I take the time to process each photo for it’s intended purpose, and in the case of photos that get posted here, there are two different processes.
The version that appears on the blog is resized to the largest width that can be shown (limited to 640 pixels in width). Anything more, and WordPress compresses it down to fit, and does so rather badly. When I output for WordPress, I bump up the contrast and sharpening because it will look a little better for the given size.
The version that goes into the SmugMug album is processed to show the most detail at full resolution. That’s because SmugMug does an excellent job of sizing the photo to the viewer’s screen resolution, so I don’t have to worry about anything but the full-size (original) view option.
When one attempts to view a photo beyond the intended viewing of the photo, all sorts of bad things happen.
Let’s take a random photograph of mine. Pardon the watermarks, but I don’t like sending out full size photos unprotected.
Why, here’s a random photograph . . .
That is the RAW capture without any adjustments. It has been saved as a JPG (80% quality), and while that has a slight degrading effect, it’s not noticeable versus the uncompressed version. The 80% quality file size is a little over 1MB, versus 12MB for the 100% quality photo.
Now, you can click on the above photo, then click again to show the native resolution. Likely, the photo is much larger than your screen, so here’s a 1:1 crop of a random area of the photo (1771 x 1080 pixels – still might be larger than some people’s monitors, so just click on it again to magnify to full resolution).
This is not a bad shot, but the chick is in the shade, and as the camera metered the scene, the chick is a tad difficult to see. Plus, the adult is not as sharp as I usually like due to the fact swallows move like the dickens. But you can still see the detail of the eyelashes.
I have canned adjustments in Lightroom 4.1 that boost the brightness, brightens the shadows, and tries to compensate for the loss of “punch” by upping the contrast. I also bump up the colors and saturation. If needed, I adjust the White Balance, but in this case it’s not necessary.
Next, I up the clarity (midtones adjustments), do some sharpening, and because that usually introduces some graininess, I also add some noise reduction.
This is the end result from my Lightroom adjustments.
You can now see the chick a bit more, the adult is still reasonably represented, and I think the photo is slightly better than the RAW.
Here is a 1:1 crop of the same area.
At first glance, it looks about the same as the RAW, but if you click on it, you can see some of the details, while sharper, have degraded. That’s due to a number of reasons . . . boosting the brightness and saturation and contrast highlights any halo (chromatic aberration) at the boundaries between bright and dark areas, such as, for example, at the fine eyelashes of the adult.
Sometimes I use a program called DxO Optics. It is a very good pre-processor that is tailored to the specific camera and lens combination used to take the photo. Its adjustments are subtler, and it generally produces less degraded photos.
Like so . . .
. . . and here’s the corresponding crop:
It’s subtle, but the detail (click to view at full resolution) is not as degraded.
However, because it leaves the photo somewhat muted, I import the .TIF file into Lightroom, and do some minor tweaks to boost it a bit, including sharpening it a tad more.
Here’s the result:
Viewed at the typical resolution available in WordPress, this will look fine, but this processing further degrades the details (click on the photo to see full size) . . . HOWEVER . . . look at the chick . . . that’s not bad. The adult has an inherent slight blur because it was moving, so adjustments tend to magnify the blur, making it unsightly.
Now it gets complicated . . . the above is something like an initial processing I do. Were I planning to only show a reduced version of the file, say, for example, with a maximum size of 1000 pixels for the longest edge, I might stop there, and it would look like this:
That, to my eye looks pretty good . . . BUT . . . the SmugMug album version of the photo needs to be of higher resolution because I want visitors to be able to view the fine details. So, I process the files that get loaded into SmugMug better than I do the ones for the blog.
Click on the photo above, and you will get a 767×1000 pixels version of that photo, and it will look pretty good on your screen.
HOWEVER . . . if for some reason, none I can think of, someone wanted to take a closer look at the detail of that photo, they would have to magnify it beyond the resolution it was intend to be viewed at. What might that look like?
Well, I used onOne Perfect Resize to enlarge the above photo to approximately the size of the original photo. Here is the result:
It does not look bad above, but click on it to get the full resolution, and you will see edges that are not smooth, a loss of detail, and in general, a “fake” look.
This is no fault of onOne’s Perfect Resize, which is an excellent program. The problem stems from the fact that the 767×1000 pixels version of that photo contains a lot less information than the original photo. Not only that, it’s been down-sampled from the original 240 dpi resolution, to 72dpi (the typical limit of the screen resolution), and compressed by converting it to JPG.
Again, it looks pretty good above, but if you wanted to see the fine details of the eyelashes, of the feathers on the chick, of the grain, you actually need to look at the original sized photo, and not the enlargement of a twice processed, down-sampled, shrunk-and-then-enlarged photo.
You would need instead to go to the SmugMug Gallery, and look at the photo processed with the intent to be viewed at full resolution; you would need to click HERE to get a 1:1 version of the original photo, and have it look pretty good.
Now, I have no idea why one would want to magnify and look at a photo beyond it’s intended resolution and viewing size, but people do lots of crazy stuff, and none of it makes sense to me.
All I can control is my part on all this. So, I can take these two photos from the 2011 series of swallow photos, size them for display on the blog, and then link them to their corresponding photos (click on the photos to go there) in the corresponding SmugMug Gallery (HERE). The photos in the SmugMug gallery are processed differently than the photos below.
The photos below have extra sharpening, contrast, and brightness, etc. than the ones in SmugMug. If I did my job right, they should be close.
And that, dear readers, is my primer on displaying your photos so that they look good on whatever medium they will be viewed.
It was probably very confusing for the majority of the people, but that’s because I do more than most people in terms of specifically processing photos, but I am anal like that.
Most people output one version of a photo, and use it for everything, and I don’t fault them for it; it’s a lot less work.
If you enjoyed this moment, found the discussion inspiring, and learned something, feel free to share it. However, if you hated the whole thing, were bored beyond belief, and consider it a waste of time . . . why, then, it’s the perfect thing to forward to people you do not like! It will serve them right!
Astute persons might have noticed these doodles, and correctly surmised they hold some significance for me, and perhaps for humanity at large. If said astute person is curious about them, click on it for an explanation of their origin.
WordPress is still screwing around with trying to be a class operation. As such, while they busily work to add features and themes I will never use, they are remiss in fixing problems like disappearing links. So, if you click on the doodle, and nothing happens, this is the link it’s supposed to go to: https://disperser.wordpress.com/2011/12/26/palm-vx-and-i/. Note . . . there is no guarantee WordPress will keep this as a link, but at least you can copy it and paste it on a browser’s address field.
Please, if you are considering bestowing me some recognition beyond commenting below, refrain from doing so. I will decline nominations whereby one blogger bestows an award onto another blogger, or group of bloggers. I appreciate the intent behind it, but I would much prefer a comment thanking me for turning you away from a life of crime, religion, or making you a better person in some other way. That would actually mean something to me.
Should you still nominate me, I will strongly suspect you pulled my name at random, and that you are not, in fact, a reader of my blog. If you wish to know more, please read below.
Note: to those who may click on “like”, or rate the post; if you do not personally hear from me, know that I am sincerely appreciative, and I thank you for noticing what I do.
. . . my FP ward . . . chieken shit.