I promise to get back to horticulture posts soon, but I have discovered some more tricks to improve blog photo quality and want to post about them. Thanks very much to everyone who shared their methods on my previous post. After reading your comments, I downloaded Picasa 3.5 to compare it to Photoshop Elements 7. Aha! I think I figured a few things out. I am not an expert, but here is my 2 cents' worth on the differences between these two photo editors and when you'd want to use them.
But first let me share these first four photos so you can see differences for yourself. The first one hasn't been edited at all, except to downsize it to 600 pixels wide and 300 ppi resolution. Dreary. No magic.
This next photo was edited in Photoshop Elements and looked vibrant and beautiful before uploading. But Blogger's uploader doesn't like jpeg files that have been edited in Photoshop, and it sucks out a lot of the color, especially the red and black.
This next photo was edited using just Picasa 3.5. It has more color, but I couldn't do the darken-the-edges trick that I pulled in Photoshop. I like the soft edges button in Picasa, though.
This last photo was edited first in Photoshop, then I used the soften edges button in Picasa and uploaded it using the Picasa editor. Shebang! Color, contrast, a bit of magic.
After playing around with Picasa 3.5 for one night and using Photoshop Elements for a year, here are my observations. Picasa is easy to figure out and covers most of the basic edits that will enhance photos for web use. The button/slider combos allow you to quickly create some fun effects. Photos uploaded to Blogger from Picasa will not get faded. And Picasa is free. I think competent Picasa users can get to a fairly high level of blog pictures - as good as 90% of the garden blogs out there.
If you want to get to the very tippy-top of cool photos, you'll need to learn Photoshop (or Photoshop Elements, like I have). That's what the professionals use. But that requires money - both to purchase the program and to purchase online training or how-to books. You won't figure out the fancy tricks on your own. It also requires quite a bit of time to learn the cool stuff that Picasa can't do . . . obviously I'm still learning. And uploading Photoshop-edited files directly into Blogger will fade them. So for many busy garden bloggers who aren't intensely interested in photography, Photoshop doesn't seem necessary.
Finally, if your photos are getting faded when you upload to Blogger, this paragraph is for you. The picture above is yet another version of the autumn crocus 'Waterlily' from my last post. But I played with it in Photoshop Elements to give it a more artsy feel. I couldn't have done this in Picasa. To get it into my blog without fading and without using another photo-hosting website (like Photobucket or Flickr), I opened the picture in Picasa 3.5's editing program that I recently downloaded for free. Then I clicked the green 'Upload' button at the bottom of the screen to send it to Picasa without fading. The key is to use Picasa's program on your computer to upload to Picasa's website. When the upload is complete, you can click on the 'View Online' button, which takes you right to the screen where you'll copy the large format photo link to paste into your blog (see my previous post for full instructions). So the process doesn't add a lot of time. Hooray! I was very excited when I figured this out. Maybe I won't have to switch to Wordpress after all.
I couldn't resist just one more Photoshop-Picasa-blend edit. Contrast and color adjusted in Photoshop, then the Glow button in Picasa. I hope this post helps you weigh out your editing options. Isn't this editing stuff fun?
Oh dear, I think you might get the wrong idea from the autumn crocus and iris photos with soft colors . . . I made them that way, they didn't get faded from uploading. So here's a really saturated geranium (and I like this one soft instead of super sharp). Plenty of red and black here!