Micro Tidying & Settings
Simple tidying up inside a file and adjusting what elements you can of a less than ideal setting can work wonders on the value of a single image. Get adept at cleaning up your microstock photos for online and print commercial use. The fine tuning of individual images will keep your editing and honing skills sharp for when you really need them.
Advanced software suites can offer intensely sophisticated effects, but the processing requirements, access to the appropriate licenses, and computing time necessary may not appeal to everyone. And that’s after you’ve gotten used to using this or that program, and absorbed the learning curve for that particular command or procedure.
Or, learn some quick, simple ways to improve a photo without launching NASA on your desktop.
IÂ was asked by a friend to take a look at the photo he was using to sell his (classic) car. I didn’t know much about cars and the classic car resales market, but I do know how to market with a good picture. There were some things about the picture that made me wishÂ I had given him some advice before his independent photo shoot. Above is the “after” image file version.
1. Find the focus
The promotion goal of the image was to enhance the appearance of the car body and condition to make probable buyers come take a look. But the photo also included a lot of background “noise” that had to be cut out. Commit to the shot by focusing on the goal. We want focus on the car, not the street, the sidewalk, the lawn, or the gutters.
2. Narrow the visual path
I took away the sidewalk and grass border, fluttered the sharply defined gutter lines, and channels enough blur values into the cement area to hide the worst of the oil and grease spots. This would have been the last type of high definition photo detail I would have captured forÂ a used car photo. Using my eyes,Â I lopped off sides and top and bottom until almost no visual range of the scene was left except the car.
3. Shred the background
The kind of fuzzy cutout or hazy shading normally used to fuss out the background would make this Alice blue Corvette look like a romance novel cover, (unneeded overtones for a Corvette to be sure). I weeded out some of the brighter green grass and fuzzed the plants a bit. I denatured the focus at the bitmap level using the pencil tool. We want the view to appreciate the car’s lines, not the shrubbery.
4. Leave the Texture
This car had a hard candy shell, which the camera picked up beautifully. Any filtering or sharpening would tarnish this effect or harshen it and make it look fake (and degrade the image). Photos that grab the texture, like this hi-gloss shine, benefit best without packaging and processing by the big softwares. The color needed no enhancement.
5. Get off balance
By removing the linear elements like a tree trunk right behind the car, a hard gutter line front and back, ridged grass curblines slanting above the car’s profile, and some of the cement stains, the photo tilts out of composition to the car body. But the photo is a good one because the angled perspective showcases the characteristic shape of the car and excellent color.
IÂ grassed out the background sidewalk after eradicating the tree. I took the white halftones present against the car ‘s blue tones for the bitmap edges of the car aganst the new sidewalk area, andÂ I borrowed shadow cement tones for shadow cement stains and in the light gray tones for the light areas. About four intersecting lines were removed that let the car’s outline take precedence.
Remember, reducing attributes of size after you edit demotes visual flaws. Use constraint and save often, and any mistakes can be arrested quickly. Many photo editing “mistakes” play out and down by the time final size is arrived at.
The final image is of a bland photo that allows the eye to train itself along the outline and focus on the details. The original shot was more poetic, but cluttered, intersected, and drew the eyeline from corner to corner and prevented central focus on the subject.