November 2, 2009
Getting Higher Quality Blog Pictures
Warning - if you aren't interested in the technical details of improving blog picture quality, then just enjoy the photos of autumn crocus 'Waterlily'. Aren't they pretty? Especially since these are the the ONLY FLOWERS blooming in my yard right now.
Anyway, I have been working to improve my garden photography and I'm considering a lens upgrade for my camera. But none of that would be apparent on my blog if I continued posting pictures in the same manner as before. So I've been searching out options.
I was taking pictures on a high quality setting and then just saving them as smaller files from Photoshop Elements. But when I clicked on the photos to enlarge them from my blog, they opened up into a huge, poor quality image. Enter Scott Kelby's Photoshop Elements 7 book, and I finally figured out how to save higher quality, small files for my blog.
When I was ready to edit these pictures, I opened the files one at a time in Photoshop Element's RAW editor (use the Open As from the drop-down menu and change the file type at the bottom of the pop up screen to RAW, then select the file). I shoot in jpeg, not RAW, but the RAW editor has some cool tools that aren't available in the normal Elements screen. Like the highlight clipping warning and the Recovery slider that reduces the blown-out highlight problem. I love that one. And the Clarity slider, that sharpens my photos in a different way than the normal sharpening, so I can use them both. And the Vibrance slider, and the Masking slider . . .
Anyway, enough gushing about the RAW editor. When I was finished editing in RAW, I clicked the Open File button to open the picture into regular Elements. Then I selected Image - Resize - Image Size from the drop down menu. I made sure the Resample box was checked, then changed the Resolution to 300 and the Width to 600 and clicked OK. Then I chose Save As and made sure the quality slider was all the way to the right side (the highest quality setting). My files ended up between 200 and 400 kb - much smaller than the originals.
Buying Photoshop Elements 7 ($50 at Costco with coupon, $80 normally) and Scott Kelby's Photoshop Elements 7 book (currently $31 at Amazon.com) has made a huge difference in my photos. I also checked out Photoshop Elements 7 for Dummies from my library, which gave me some background on the basics of Elements. If you have some time to learn and don't want to shell out for the 'real' photoshop ($600-700- ouch), I'd recommend this approach. And no one paid me to say that.
If you want bigger pictures, you'll need to widen your blog. See this link to learn how to do that. Then visit Robin from Robin's Nesting Place to find out how she posts larger files from Picasa. A friend of mine uploads to Flickr and then links the photos to her blog. She gets better color that way (my photos all look faded after uploading to Picasa). But I tried that and the pictures kept disappearing after a few days. I'm wishing now that I had started blogging at Wordpress, but I don't want to abandon my old posts and don't have time to repost all of them. So this will be my method for now. What method do you use? Leave your tips and we'll all be grateful!
PS - This last photo shows the autumn crocus bulbs from White Flower Farm. They're as big as potatoes, with several flowers sprouting from each one. I'll post pictures of the foliage when it appears in the spring.
Added - I just downloaded the Picasa editor and used it to re-edit this photo. One thing I forgot to mention is that resizing images in Elements does soften the edges; I should have resharpened before uploading them. So I clicked the Sharpen button and the Auto Contrast in Picasa. I tried the Auto Color but didn't like the result, so I cancelled that. The color in this last photo looks like the color in the photo that is saved on my harddrive. You can see the huge difference between this and the first version of this photo, above, that I uploaded without re-editing in Picasa. SO . . . if I'm serious about getting good color in Blogger, I need to edit in both Elements and Picasa before uploading to my blog. Using the Picasa editor preserves the vibrance. Or maybe I'll just switch to Wordpress, since Frances says it's so easy?! I'll have to think about this for a bit.