Time and time again, I see good photography amongst a photo album of average work, weird sizes and colourings and soft images. This tutorial is designed to help you to get the absolute most out of you photos when sharing them with the world, while protecting yourself at the same time. Read on; you may be surprised at what the pros do to present their work, when they share their photos on the internet.
This is probably the most commonly overlooked part of sharing photos onto the internet, as few people realise what a difference it can make. The format you choose will effect the overall colour 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 move onto showing you the differences in a moment, but for now, lets have a look at how to make sure that you've got your image export set up to the right colour profile.
In Aperture, when I go to export a photo, I can choose to select a different size for my photo by clicking on the size list and going down to edit. When you're on this following menu, you have the option to choose the colour profile from there. On some software, you may find an option to 'Export for web', which will ensure that it has the correct colour profile, it's just a case of finding out how to do it on your particular software. All except for 'Export orignal size' are set up to sRGB on my computer as I use that size to export for print.
Now, let's have a look at the different colour profiles and their effects on the original colour of my photo. The first photo of the three is the correct colour profile at sRGB, which as you can see is exactly how I would want the photo to look. The second one is the most drastic difference and this is RGB, and this has changed the tone of the photo and made the skin look almost green in comparison; not very nice. The third and final photo is less of a difference, but it's changed the contrast of the image and 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 stop looking different and all look like the sRGB profile again.
This is unbelievably important to the quality of your images when it comes to putting them onto the internet; your software will be far better at resizing the images then any website with minimal resources in comparison. I personally use about 8-10 different presets on a regular basis for sharing my photos to different locations, as it ensures that I have the photo the exact size and at optimum quality, while not wasting space on my hard drive with duplicates of photos that are unnecessarily large.
You may not think this is as important as I'm making it sound, so I encourage you to have a look at the image slideshow below the next paragraph and see for yourself. The first photo is a crop of the full sized image that didn't go onto the internet. Second is an image that was exported to Facebook to fit within the 720*720 pixels that Facebook allows, I then cropped this image and enlarged it so that it was the same size as the original crop at 720*720px, hence the poor quality. The final image of the three, came from my submitting the photo at it's original size to Facebook and allowing 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 your export size can make. Most noticeable is the sharpness and detail in the eyes and the sharpness of the skin around the left side of the lips. Dont' allow your photos to look sub-par; find out what the size you want them and set up presets accordingly.
Whenever you resize an image, you're always going to be pushing pixels together in places and this invariably leads to softer photos as 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 it's been resized.
There's 2 main ways of doing 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 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 the photos you want, then reimport them and add sharp
ening to them individually. I'm not entirely sure why Aperture don't give you the option, but I'm assuming it's because it's hard to add a fixed amount of sharpening to all of the images and have them all come out right.
The second option is clearly going to be more accurate, but it means I use it a lot less because it's very time consuming and you have to have a really organised workflow to make it work. Either way, if it's a photo you're proud off and want to share it, this step is absolutely essential. Have a look at the slideshow below of 2 images, the first is the original export of a photo and the second is that same photo reimported after being resized, sharpened and then exported again – the most noticeable difference is around the liquid pouring in the glass and around the shirt and hair.
Watermarking is a tricky one really, you have to decide how much you want to protect your image, and weigh that up against how much of a distraction you're willing to add to your photos. You'll notice that nearly all the photos on this website are without a watermark, and the same goes for my Facebook. This is largely due to the fact that I don't want to distract from my photos and, the quality of the photos on Facebook and size of my photos on here, aren't good enough for anyone to rip off to any real extent. I have included my watermark on 1 album on Facebook because I wanted to make sure that people knew the source and would come to my website.
My personal portfolio on the other hand, I watermark all of the photos as they're much bigger and more useful to anybody who wanted to steal them. This has positive and negative consequences; positively, it's harder for someone to take my photo without attributing 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. Negatively, it detracts from the image and if someone was to steal it and crop the watermark out, it would be a lot harder to tell because image searches such as TinEye (where you can search for where images have been used elsewhere on the internet), only search for the exact photo you input, not a cropped variation.
Overall, I think watermarking is important, especially if your photo is going to be worth a lot of the money, due to the type of content that's involved, but 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 onto the internet, remember, you've made your photo much easier to steal so 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, so that you can't even tell what's good anymore. You need to remember when you're sharing that your album as a whole is only as strong as your weakest photos so if you're going to include all of your wonky, poorly exposed duds as well, you're not going to go far.
I'll give you an example, I was at a friend's wedding BBQ the other day and I took 761 photo, but only 156 made it into a photo album. I'm way past taking poorly exposed, wonky, or out of focus photos, but I still make sure that the variety of photos is going to be something that's going to interest the reader, not 5 photos of the same person doing exactly the same thing. If you leave the viewer impressed and wanting more, then you're onto a good thing.