Time and time again, I see great photography amongst an album of average work; weird sizes and colorings and soft images.
This tutorial is designed to help you get as much as possible out of your photos when sharing them with the world or with clients, protecting them at the same time.
Read on. You may be surprised at how the pros present their work when sharing their photos on the internet.
This is probably the most commonly overlooked part of sharing photos onto the internet. Only a few people realize what a difference it can make.
The format you choose will affect the overall color and saturation of your photos. Along with the contrast in some cases.
The correct profile for sharing photos on the internet is “sRGB”. Not to be confused with “RGB” or “RGB generic”.
I’ll show you the differences in a moment. For now, let’s have a look at how to make sure you’ve got your image export set up to the right color profile.
In Aperture, when I export a photo, I can choose to select a different size for my photo by clicking ‘size list’, then ‘edit’. The following menu gives you the option to choose the color profile.
On some software, you’ll find an option to ‘Export for web’. This will ensure that you are using the correct color profile. It’s just a case of finding out how to do it on your particular software. All except for ‘Export original size’ are set to sRGB on my computer as I use that size to export for print.
Now, let’s have a look at the different color profiles and their effects on the original color of one of my photos.
The first of the three is the correct color profile at sRGB. As you can see, this is exactly how I would want it to look.
The second has the most drastic difference. This is RGB. This format has changed the tone of the photo. The skin looks almost green in comparison; not very nice.
The third and final photo shows less of a difference. But the contrast of the image has changed in a way that’s made the skin tones deeper.
The interesting thing to note about images on the internet is that, if you were to save these photos back to your desktop, they would no longer appear different. They would all look like the sRGB profile again.
This is unbelievably important to the quality of your images when it comes to putting them on the internet. Your software will be far better at resizing images then any website with minimal resources in comparison.
I use about 8-10 different presets on a regular basis for sharing photos to different locations. This ensures that I have each photo at exactly the right size, in optimum quality. It also avoids wasting space on my hard drive storing duplicates of photos that are unnecessarily large.
You may not think this is as important as I’m making it sound. I encourage you to have a look at the image slideshow below the next paragraph. See for yourself.
The first photo is a crop of the full sized image that didn’t go on the internet.
Second is an image that I exported to Facebook to fit within the 720*720 pixels allowed by the site. I then cropped this image and enlarged it to be the same size as the original crop at 720*720px, hence the poor quality.
The final image of the three came from submitting the photo in its original size to Facebook. This allowed Facebook to do the necessary resizing.
Obviously, the first image doesn’t really count for much of a base for comparison. It’s the second two that really show the difference that export size can make.
Most noticeable are the sharpness and detail in the eyes. And the sharpness of the skin around the left side of the lips.
Don’t allow your photos to look sub-par. Find out the size you want them and set up presets accordingly.
Whenever you resize an image, you’re pushing pixels together in places. This invariably leads to softer photos. It’s hard for a computer program to distinguish what’s right.
The best way to replace the sharpening lost during resizing is to add some more sharpening to the image once you’ve resized it.
There are two main ways to do this, depending on the software that you use.
Firstly, if you use a program like Lightroom, you can apply sharpening on the export of your photos as the very final step. This means that all of your photos are ready to go. But understanding exactly how much to apply to a group of photos is a bit like black magic.
The second way, and the way I have to do it, is to export all of the photos you want. Then I re-import them, adding sharpening to them individually.
I’m not entirely sure why Aperture doesn’t give you the option. I’m assuming it’s because it’s hard to add a fixed amount of sharpening to all of the images and have all of them come out right.
The second option is always going to be more accurate. I use it a lot less because it’s very time consuming and you need a really organised workflow to make it work.
Either way, if it’s a photo you’re proud of and want to share, this step is absolutely essential.
Have a look at the slideshow below. Of the two images, the first is the original export of a photo. The second is that same photo re-imported after being resized, sharpened and then exported again.
The most noticeable difference appears around the liquid pouring into the glass and around the shirt and hair.
We have great articles on how to resize images in Lightroom and Photoshop.
Watermarking is a tricky one really. You have to weigh up how much you want to protect your image against how much of a distraction you’re willing to add to your photos.
You’ll notice that nearly all of the photos on this website lack a watermark. The same goes for my Facebook.
This is largely to prevent distracting from my photos. In addition, the quality of the photos on Facebook and the size of my photos on this site aren’t good enough to be ripped off to any great extent.
I have included my watermark on 1 album on Facebook. That’s because I wanted to make sure that people knew the source and would come to my website.
On the other hand, for my personal portfolio, I watermark every photo. They’re much bigger and more useful to anybody wanting to steal them.
This has positive and negative consequences:
The positive – it’s harder for someone to take my photo without attributing it to me. And, if they do steal my work and crop the watermark out, I can slap them with a big fat invoice for blatantly stealing my work.
The negative – it detracts from the image. If someone was to steal it and crop the watermark out, it would be a lot harder to tell because image searches like TinEye (where you can search for where images have been used elsewhere on the internet) only detect the exact photo you input, not a cropped variation.
Overall, I think watermarking is important. Especially so if your photo is going to be worth a lot of the money due to its content. If you’re only going to be putting a small portion of your portfolio on the internet, it’s not so important.
If you do put your photo on the internet, remember: you’ve made your photo much easier to steal. Think twice about what you put online.
Only as Strong as the Weakest Photo
I see this all the time on Facebook. A few good photos dispersed amongst a load of rubbish. You can’t even tell what’s good anymore.
Remember when sharing photos that your album as a whole is only as strong as your weakest photos. If you’re going to include all of your wonky, poorly exposed duds, you won’t go far.
I’ll give you an example: I was at a friend’s wedding BBQ the other day. I took 761 photos, of which only 156 made it into a photo album.
I’m well past taking poorly exposed, wonky, or out of focus photos. But I still make sure that the variety of shots I make public are going to be something of interest to the reader. Not just 5 photos of the same person doing exactly the same thing.
If you leave the viewer impressed and wanting more, you’re on to a good thing.