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4 tips for choosing the best frames for your photos

4 tips for choosing the best frames for your photos

Following the right steps before printing your photos is important — but what about after printing? What about picture frames? The perfect frame can bring out the colors and detail in the image while also complementing the image. But, when it comes to frames, there are hundreds, if not thousands of different options — and that’s not including the mat. So how do you narrow it down to choose the best frame for your photos? Here are four tips to help you choose the right frame.

The Golden Ratio isn’t just for photography.

While the Golden Ratio, a more advanced version of the Rule of Thirds, applies to the composition of the photo itself, it can also help you choose the right picture frame. When you apply the Golden Ratio to framing, you get a border that’s appropriate for the size of the photo. To do this, you want to choose a frame and mat that has a border that’s creates that Golden Ratio with the photograph. To do that, try using this online calculator to find the right size for your image, especially if you are using a custom framing service. The larger your photo is, the wider the frame should be.

Frame colors should complement both the decor and the photograph.

Most consider the colors in their home decor before choosing a frame, but you should also factor in the colors in that particular photo as well. Don’t choose the color you see most in the photo, or the color will be lost in that frame. Instead, choose a color that’s in the photo, but not the most dominant. Choosing a frame or a mat with one of the less dominate colors in the image will complement the image and help it pop against that frame.

Don’t forget the mat.

The frame and mat work together to highlight the image in a pleasing way. While an mat isn’t exactly necessary for smaller photos, larger photos will look much better with both a frame and a mat, making it easier to reach that Golden Ratio. Choosing a mat and frame also allows you to choose two different colors to bring out that image. Along with a solid color mat, you can also choose a double mat, which has another color bordering the image, or even a mat with a subtle pattern.

Consider the gallery.

While some photos hang by themselves, in many cases, that image will become part of a gallery wall with several images. When creating a gallery wall, choosing the same colors in the mat and frame will help tie the images in and give them a cohesive look, while choosing different frame colors and materials can draw more interest into the gallery. Choosing multiple different sizes is also a good idea when creating a gallery wall.

Printing the photo isn’t the last step — getting a frame that complements the image helps bring that artwork out even more while, of course, also keeping that image protected from dust and wear.

The Editing Checklist: 9 Things To Check Before Printing Your Photos

The Editing Checklist: 9 Things To Check Before Printing Your Photos

With digital photography, only the best shots make it onto prints for hanging on the wall, collecting in albums and sharing with friends. But all too often, holding a print in your hands makes everything that you missed while editing the digital file all to obvious. What edits should you make before moving from digital to print? To help make sure you didn’t miss the mark on photo editing, here’s a photo editing checklist to make sure that photo pops in print.

Crop

The aspect ratio of the print may not be the exact shape of the original photo. Cropping helps make sure the printer doesn’t leave out any essential details in translation. When cropping, also look for ways to remove distractions. The straightening tool at the corner of that crop box is also a great thing to check before printing the shot too.

Exposure

Too light? Too dark? Make sure that exposure is dead on before printing. Over (or under) exposing for a mood is fine, but make sure that print has the right light before sending it off to the printers.

Contrast

While making sure the overall exposure is good, don’t forget about the individual tones. Adjust the shadows, blacks, highlights and whites to get the image to pop on paper — or to achieve that matte film look you’re going for. Adjusting individual tonal ranges is often a better approach than simply adjusting contrast all at once.

Colours

Colour can make or break an image — thankfully, adjusting colors is easy to do in Lightroom’s HSL panel, which allows you to adjust each color individually. Also watch for vibrance and saturation, but be careful not to overdo it.

White balance

With RAW photography, a perfect white balance is easy to achieve. Weather you are looking for accurate colors or creating a mood with warm or cool tones, make sure that white balance is exact before hitting that print button.

Distractions

Is there anything in the photo distracting from the subject? Before printing, check for things like power lines or telephone poles in the background. On a portrait, look for things like acne or teeth that aren’t quite white. Distractions can often be eliminated using the clone or heal tool, or sometimes, making a crop.

Sharpness

Sharpness is often something that goes unnoticed until seeing the shot in print — save on the cost of reprinting by viewing the image at 100 percent and applying any necessary sharpening adjustments.

Noise

If you took that photo in limited light, chances are, you’ll have some noise. Some amounts of noise can be removed from the image without degrading the quality — check if the noise levels could be a little better, or if you went a bit too far on the noise reduction the first time.

Industry-specific

Every type of photography has it’s own unique quirks. Before you finalize the edits, make sure the shot fits with the adjustments for that category. For example, a landscape photo is often straightened and occasionally the sky is enhanced with a digital graduated filter. Portraits, on the other hand, may have more retouching to help the person look their best.

Photo editing helps prints look their best — and making sure the edits are just right first helps save on the cost of reprinting to get those shots perfect. With each edit, make sure you don’t go too far and blur skin to plastic, over saturate colors unnaturally or over-sharpen.

Photo Editing Tips: Use the HSL panel in Lightroom for custom colour

Photo Editing Tips: Use the HSL panel in Lightroom for custom colour

Spend any amount of time in the paint samples at the hardware store and you know that “red” can mean hundreds, if not thousands of different colours. In photography, colour can make or break a photo, but you don’t have to leave colours exactly how the camera saw them — and creating custom colour in Lightroom is almost as easy as choosing that favorite paint sample. Using Lightroom’s HSL, or hue, saturation, luminance panel, you can create custom colour effects without complex masking — and even create more contrast in your black and whites. Here’s how.

Colours can be adjusted in three different ways in the HSL panel — and unlike adjusting the saturation or vibrance slider, in the HSL panel, you can control colours individually.

Hue will change exactly what shade those colours appear. For example, sliding the red slider to the left will make the reds in the image a bit more of a hot pink, while moving to the right would turn those same reds into something closer to orange.

Saturation refers to just how much colour is there — it’s the difference between a very muted colour and a very vibrant one. If you take that same red slider but inside the saturation option and turn it all the way to the left, your reds will become grays. All the way to the right and you have a very deep vibrant red.

Luminance, on the other hand, refers to how light or dark the colour is. When you adjust the luminance, you can play with the exposure levels over a single colour at a time. Luminance doesn’t change the colour, but adds more shadow or more highlights. For example, adjusting the orange slider to the right is a popular way to brighten up skin tones.

By playing with the HSL panel in Lightroom, you can create a custom colour look to your shot. Adjusting the HSL is a popular way to make a digital file appear more like a specific type of film. For example, some film types change the hue of greens and blues. The HSL panel can also be helpful for adjusting minor colour casts or removing redness from the skin in a portrait (just watch and make sure you don’t remove all the red from the lips too).

But the HSL is more than just a tool for creating custom colour — it’s essential for creating better black and whites. In a black and white photo, the HSL panel switches to just one slider for each colour. What each slider does is adjust which shade of gray that colour becomes. By controlling how each colour converts, you can create more contrast in your black and white shots, or, if you prefer, create less contrast for a matte effect.

Controlling the HSL in a black and white shot can also take a boring black and white and make it interesting again. For example, reds and greens tend to convert to a similar shade of gray, which means if you have a photo of a red flower, the petals and the leaves are going to blend in. Using the colour sliders, you can lighten up the red and darken up the green, creating contrast in a shot that would otherwise be bland in black and white.

Once you understand what each slider in the HSL panel does, you can create images with colourful punch, or mimic the look of a matte film. Try opening an image and playing with the sliders, watching the image as the slider adjusts to see how that slider works. Then, have fun colour mixing to find the look that works for you. You can also find inspiration from a favorite film shot or another shot you admire and use the HSL sliders to recreate that digitally.

Colour can make or break a shot, and in particular when shooting RAW, creating a custom colour palette can help give your image that final punch.

What is colour calibration and why does it matter?

What is colour calibration and why does it matter?

After scouring the stores, you’ve finally found that missing piece to that outfit online, and the colours match perfectly. You quickly order, wait and then eagerly tear open the package — only to find the colour is nowhere near matching. What happened? Colours on a screen look different then the colours in real life, a fact that can play a big role in the quality of your printed photos too. Colour calibration is the answer — but what is colour calibration and why does it matter?

While the monitor on your computer displays red, green and blue pixels, most printers instead use the CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow and black) colour system. Those perfect colours then often get lost in translation, and what looked perfect on screen looks off on paper. It’s the same thing that happens when you order something online and open it up to find a different colour — viewing colours on an RGB monitor doesn’t always translates into the actual colour of the real thing. To make matters worse, one monitor may render colours differently than another.

Colour calibration adjusts the monitor so that what you see on screen is as close as possible to what you’ll see on the print. While most computers have built-in colour calibration and tools to adjust contrast and brightness for a better viewing experience, work such as photography and graphic design requires getting a more precise match.

A mix of hardware and software provides a solution for photographers and designers that need that precise colour. Using this type of colour calibration involves placing a device over the screen that reads the colours on the screen and even how those colours are affected by the light in the room. That device communicates with software and walks you through the steps to getting the right colours on the screen, even if you don’t understand all the fancy colour calibration terms.

So why go through all that work? Colour calibration helps guide the editing process, so that you’re editing your photos to look their best on the print, not on your particular screen. With the screen properly calibrated, you can use tools like the Hue Saturation Luminance adjustments as well as saturation and vibrancy tools and get the best results for that particular shot.

Since advanced colour calibration involves both hardware and software, there is an initial investment in order to colour correct all of your monitors, but, that effort for many helps save in the long run by reducing the number of required reprints, saving both time and supplies. For photographers that rely on a printing service instead of their own printer, colour correction is often an extra fee added to every print — and those fees can quickly add up.

Spyder is one of the most well-known brands for colour calibration with colour hardware available at several different price points starting at about $120. X-Rite is another trusted calibration brand and can sometimes run a bit cheaper than the Spyder options.

Colour calibration, with the right tools, isn’t as complicated as it sounds, yet matching monitor and print colours can make a dramatic difference on the quality of your photo prints.