Official Blog of the Tophatter Auction House
They happen to the best of photographers, and usually occur when you have a deadline. A misplaced thumb here, a shadow you didn’t notice in the photo and many other glitches can wreck perfectly good product photos. But do they? Now, in the digital age, anything can be changed, erased and perfected using photo editing software. Sure, you say, how many hundreds of dollars will that cost me for the latest version of PhotoShop? My answer - none.
If you have photo editing software already on your computer, great! You’ll usually just need the basics to tweak a photo, and a second mortgage to be able to afford Adobe CS5 isn’t necessary to do only that. If you don’t have software available, there are a couple of programs that you can download for free online: Photoscape is an absolutely free basic photo editing software program that you can download here.
Looking for more of a challenge? Then there’s GIMP 2.6.10, a free, open source editing program that behaves like PhotoShop and has a lot of similar tools and features. You can download GIMP here.
2. Editing Tools You’ll Want to Make Your Friend
- Unsharp Mask: to use a quote from imagener.com, “Unsharp Mask recreates an image using the original, filtered through this mask like water through a water filter - the ghost or filter image defines edges more sharply than the original when mixed again. This resharpening or Unsharp Mask procedure always improves images to some degree and often results in an amazing, three dimensional look that visually grabs and absorbs you much more than the original.”
- Brightness/ Contrast: does what it says - artificially brightens a darker photo (a lot, so use sparingly as features can be washed right out), and increases the contrast (or shadow portion) of a photo to highlight the brighter areas.
- Resizing: not the same as cropping. Resizing an image only changes the overall size of the file (for example, to fit Tophatter’s criteria of uploaded photo files no larger than 4MB).
- Cropping: selecting an area of a photo using a box you drag to a specific area, then digitally cutting what is not inside the box away (the undo option is very handy here, as you can do this over and over again until you like your selection).
- Aspect Ratio: a very important box to keep checked when resizing a photo. This keeps the photo looking like the original, and doesn’t let the height or width get distorted, or stretched.
- White Balance: white balance is a camera setting that adjusts for lighting in order to make white objects appear white in photos. Remember that yellow light from regular lightbulbs I mentioned before? If your camera has this option, be sure to use it. Hopefully it has a set white balance box to check, which will tell the camera to adjust the light to ‘true white’ (or as close as it’s able to) when it auto focuses. If you don’t have this setting, you can adjust it using the editing tools in the photo software I mentioned above.
Don’t be afraid to experiment. Aggressively crop the size or area of your photo, crank up the brightness and/or the contrast, flip it, add a decorative virtual frame, experiment!
Don’t like the last change (or changes) made? That little ‘undo’ option will be your best friend while you learn by doing.
By Bobbie Wykes
PS. Missed Part 1? Brush up on some general tips for product shots here.