Monday, 28 March 2011

Part 4 - Improving your photos with GIMP - Resizing, Cropping and Recap!

As this is the last in my series on improving photography, I thought I would do a quick recap before heading into the last part. 

In the first post I highlighted some of the basics of setting up your photography:
  • Use a complimentary background. Not too busy, not too bright, but just right!
  • Take your photos in natural light (diffuse is best or use a light box)
  • Model your items. What does it look like on a person? What can I use this item for? What does it look like framed?
In the second post I showed you how to alter colour curves and get rid of grey in your images. The important message to take away from this post is to experiment! Play around with the histogram and see what works best for your items. I learned from a comment on my post that you can curve the line by grabbing it anywhere and I now use this method for my photos.

In the third post I showed you how to alter the colour balance and saturation of images to correct any lighting mistakes during shooting. Important things to remember are:
  • Subtle changes can make big differences. 
  • A bit of work setting up good lighting and checking your camera settings can save alot of time during editing! 
  • Experiment!

Resizing and Cropping
In today's post I will be showing you how to crop and resize your image. I have gone a bit back to front in this post as I probably should have posted about cropping right at the start as this is normally the first thing I do when editing my photos. It is important to get the image that you would like to display correct before fiddling with colour curves etc as the colours present in an unfinished/uncropped image may detract from the look you are trying to achieve.

Cropping photos is pretty important, especially online somewhere like Etsy or Artfire where the first impression of an item is made from a small thumbnail that needs to grab a buyers attention. I normally try to show a relative close up of the detail of my items (eg, the pendant on necklaces) or sometimes the whole item (earrings) if they are small/eyecatching enough to be shown in the thumbnail. I love the way andiespecialtysweets chooses to showcase her items with clever and subtle cropping.

Peppermint Candy Buttons by andiespecialtysweets 
The cropping tool is found on the main toolbar within GIMP and looks like scalpel. To crop, drag a box around the section of your image you would like to keep and then double click. If you aren't happy with your first attempt, before double clicking, you can resize the crop selection by moving the squares in the corners.

Resizing is especially important for the first image that you will be showcasing for your item. Make sure that the most eyecatching part of your item is visible (this is part cropping and part resizing). I normally use a 400-600 pixels width/height for my items as I find this creates a good size, without making a huge picture that takes up all the screen! It has taken me a little bit to find out what ratio works best for my images, and I still have a few gigantor pics in there but I am slowly weeding them out.

To resize in GIMP, select  Image > Scale Image from the menu. You can select whether to resize in pixels, cms, inches, etc. I use pixels as this is normally what dimensions are refered to online. 

The End... Or is it...?
I have really enjoyed sharing my growing knowledge with you all through this series and I hope that is was of some use! Sadly this is the last scheduled post on improving photos, but if there is anything I haven't covered that you would like shown in more detail, please let me know!

Next week - Inside My 'Studio'

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