Posts Tagged ‘photo editing’

Color Editing for Web Page Design

Posted by Martha DiMeo on May 15th, 2017 | No Comments

Color is contextual. Color exists, not as an isolated element, but rather, as part of a larger context. To that end, it’s important to be mindful of this design principle when retouching and color correcting photographs for web page design.

A recent project for the website MelodyTheArtist.com provides a perfect example to illustrate the idea of  “color in context” and how the editing decisions for any one photograph can change based on the placement on the page and the juxtaposition of other photos in the layout. Let me show you what I mean.

Four images are used on the homepage as navigational elements. Previously, I had performed imaging work on all of the images, perfecting the color of each for its initial intended use.

Three paintings by Melody Phaneuf; Artist portrait by ©Martha DiMeo 2017 Paintings by Melody Phaneuf; Photo of the artist by Martha DiMeo © 2017

The still life, landscape, and house portrait were color-corrected to make print reproductions of the original paintings. Meticulous work was done to ensure the color in the print reproductions accurately represented the colors in the original piece of art.

The “Now Open” image, a portrait of the artist, had been used in an email promotion. The photo was nicely designed with its complementary color palette of yellow and violet. The only color correction required was a slight adjustment to the skin tones to remove a red color cast.

Separately, the color of each image was pleasing. In the case of the paintings, the photographs are excellent representations of the original artwork. However, that assessment changed when the images were placed together in the layout for the homepage of the site.

color-editing-web-page-design-beforeThe four images used as navigational elements on the homepage of MelodyTheArtist.com
before color editing work was performed.

For the website, the images could no longer be evaluated solely on their individual merits. They needed to be reviewed as a group, in the sequence pictured above, and in the context of the entire page design.

Different Criteria

What is the visual linkage, the rhythm between the images? Is there a common color palette? Is the viewer’s eye directed from one image to the next? Is there unity that creates a pleasing and cohesive design? For the most effective page design, color evaluation now needed to be framed around these questions.

Review & Evaluation

The first three images share a common color palette. Although very different in subject matter, the palette of warm oranges and yellows, and soft blues and greens create visual linkage. The image that lacked unity in the sequence, that halted the viewer’s eye, was the “Now Open” photo. With the cool yellow of the sign, and the strong contrast of color created by the complementary color palette, it is extremely demanding and inharmonious in relation to the other images.

Creating Rhythm & Harmony

It was clear what needed to be done. The color range of the “Now Open” image needed to be compressed. The range needed to be nudged away from the complementary extremes. Instead of a contrast of color, it needed to move towards a gradation of color. By gradating color, the palette of the image would be closer to the palette of the other three images.

Three color editing moves accomplished the task. First, the cool yellow of the sign was made warmer. The color was moved towards the oranges in the still life painting. And the blue lettering of the sign towards the blue of the vessel in that painting.

Next the violet elements—the hydrangeas and woman’s top—were moved towards green and muted blue, complementing the greens and soft blue tones in the other three images.

before & after example showing color editing for page layoutBefore/After

By lowering the color contrast, the “Now Open” image is no longer demanding, no longer screaming for attention. The decibel level of the colors was lowered. As you can see in the Before/After comparison, the sequence now looks balanced. They hold together as a group. There is a rhythm and harmony allowing the viewer’s eye to gently move from one image to the next.

Color Edits & Visual Flow

Color harmony does not happen accidentally. But rather, it must be well-considered and implemented through a color editing process. As this example illustrates, for an effective design, color editing decisions made with a color strategy, and in the context of the entire layout, create a pathway to success.

To evaluate each image on its own, as separate from its placement on the page, will often lead to a false assessment. The overall design may suffer, simply because the demands of each image are too strong and the viewer becomes conflicted about where to look.

Creating a balanced and harmonious webpage layoutThe overall web page design. The edited image in the context of the homepage.

But, when color evaluation is informed by viewing the entire layout, allowing one aspect to dominate, and adjusting accordingly, the end result can remove barriers. This harmonizing of color creates a visual flow for the viewer to absorb the entire page with ease. The result is a more harmonious and cohesive design.

The End Result

Notice the dominant warm glow that pervades the adjusted color layout of the homepage. By subordinating conflicting color differences, the whole of the page is emphasized and becomes greater than its individual parts. In this way, color has rescued the design and the viewer has a pleasant experience.

© Martha DiMeo 2017

 

Questions/Comments

Did you find this blog informative? Will you now look at the sequencing and the juxtaposition of images with a new eye for creating color harmony? I’d love to hear from you. Leave a comment; let me know your thoughts.

Meet the Artist

Interested in learning more about the artwork shown here? Information about the artist Melody Phaneuf and the paintings can be found at these links. The title of the paintings as pictured in the homepage screenshot. Top: Annisquam Sunset. From left to right: J’ai la PêcheFog LiftingStonberg House, Gloucester, MA.

 

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About ChromaQueen.com

ChromaQueen is a photo editing services company specializing in photo retouching, image manipulation, and color correction/color editing for print, web, and other digital media.

Color is Complex. Chroma Queen Can Help.

 

 

Flawless Reproductions~The Junction of Art & Technology

Posted by Martha DiMeo on March 27th, 2016 | No Comments

When reproducing artwork, whether 2D (paintings, drawings, illustrations) or 3D (ceramics, sculpture) the objective is always the same—to faithfully reproduce the artist’s intent.

This image, a photograph of the sculpture Inverted Collector, by artist Miriam Ellen Ewers, was needed for a gallery exhibition in Amsterdam. In lieu of displaying the actual sculpture, the photograph of the sculpture was exhibited instead.

 

Sculpture in Gallery Before Photo Retouching WorkBefore/After: Before image with markup of photo retouching instructions

 

Getting To Exhibition Quality

Three things needed to be done to get the photograph to exhibition quality. The first, and most obvious problem, was the severe color-cast. The second task was to eliminate the distracting elements in the background, as indicated on the “Before” image. Finally, the sculpture needed to be re-lit. The available light in the gallery, under which the image was captured, did not sufficiently showcase the piece. The contrast and tonal range needed improvement to describe the shape and form of the sculpture.

The imaging work to perform these three tasks was fairly involved. Nine adjustments layers, most with selective masking, were created in Photoshop to accomplish the color correction, contrast, and lighting modifications.

The retouching done to remove the lines in the ceiling, frames on the wall, and the imperfection in the floor was not especially difficult, but it did require a fair amount of time and attention to detail. Ensuring the retouching was invisible to the eye was my goal, making the time and effort well spent. The “After” image, below, represents the piece in a commanding way, worthy of display in an Amsterdam art gallery.

 

After Retouching, sculpture in gallery after color correction and retouchingBefore/After:  After retouching and color correction work was complete.

The Good News, Color Can Always Be Improved

Should you find yourself in a similar situation, with a photograph that has severely compromised color, the good news is color can always be improved. When the starting point is a good capture in terms of resolution, sharpness, and composition, then the color-balance, exposure, and lighting can always be refined. That is, when the image is in the hands of a skilled Photoshop Specialist. (Okay, a little shameless self-promotion tooting my own horn; but color is my speciality. :-)

Artistic and Technical

Art reproduction done well, is the intersection of artistic and technical skills. The measure of success is whether or not the reproduction is flawless and communications the artist’s vision. The Photographer and Digital Imaging Specialist must be mindful of the fact that each color in a piece of art is not by happenstance, but rather, a deliberate statement by the artist. In addition, when reproducing three dimensional artwork, an understanding and command of lighting, along with a keen eye for composition, is essential.

The process of art reproduction is highly technical requiring expertise in photography, lighting, color management, color evaluation, color correction, digital imaging, and printing. Nevertheless, when done to the highest standards, the benefits are tremendous. We, the viewing public, Art Lovers everywhere, are given the opportunity to enjoy and experience artwork as the artist intended.

Publishers & Artists

If you are a publisher of art books or art catalogs, an editor of an art-focused magazine, or an artist needing unrivaled reproductions of your work, ChromaQueen can help. See the  “ChromaQueen, lets talk” contact links below to get started.

 

More Before & After Fine Art Examples

Be sure to visit the Art Reproduction portfolio gallery to see more Before & After examples of fine art reproductions.

 

About the Artist

To see more sculptures by Miriam Ellen Ewers, visit her site at MiriamEllenEwers.com

 

© Martha DiMeo 2016
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Photoshop Post-Production: Recovering Highlight Detail

Posted by Martha DiMeo on July 31st, 2014 | 2 Comments

 

It could be debated as to what is worse—shadows and three-quarter tones with little or no detail or highlights and quarter-tones close to being blown-out? For most images—and for most subject matter—neither is desirable and usually results in the image being assigned to the outtake pile.

In last month’s blog, titled Bringing Out Shape & Detail in the Darkest of Colors, I addressed the issue of recovering shadow detail and gave a sneak peek at recovering highlight detail. Now, I’d like to delve into the topic of highlight recovery a bit deeper with a few more examples.

Bridal Gowns ~ Satin & Lace

The two images presented here are pulled from the pages of Grace Ormonde Wedding Style magazine. Brides and bridal gowns are always a challenge to photograph. Whether the photos are candid shots of a bride on her wedding day, images from the photo pit at bridal runway shows, or carefully planned and executed studio shoots, the challenge is always the same—holding detail in the white and off-white fabrics.

In this first example, the editors at Wedding Style magazine wished to include this image of a YolanCris gown in the regularly featured Bridal Runaway spread. In its original form, with the loss of all detail of the gown’s delicate eyelet and embroidery work, it was unsuitable for publication. Reproduced as is, it would not have served the bridal designer as a flattering representation of her work, nor would it have been useful to the magazine reader searching for her dream wedding gown. Moreover, from a magazine production standpoint, the image did not meet the quality standards I had established for the publication. (At the time, I was the Production/Imaging Director for Wedding Style magazine.)

Recovering Highlight Detail in Bridal GownBefore/After — Photoshop Retouching by Martha DiMeo.
The amount of recovered detail viewable on-screen is highly depended
on the quality of your display. See “Test Your  Display” below.

 

As illustrated in the After view, with carefully considered Photoshop retouching and tonal manipulation, the shape and delicate details of the gown’s design was restored. As a result, the image was reclaimed from the outtake pile and then handsomely reproduced in the magazine.

The second example is very similar in nature. It was nicely composed and styled, but the dress suffered from loss of detail in the satin and lace. It would have been a disservice to run the photo in its original state. Once again, the outtake pile was averted by solving the problem in post-production.

Fashion Photo Retouching, Recovering Highlight DetailBefore/After — Photoshop Retouching by Martha DiMeo

 

Can Your Over-Exposed Images Be Saved?

If you are questioning whether an over-exposed image under consideration for a project can be improved in post-production, it is quite possible the answer is “yes”.  If there is just a few percentages of density in the areas of the image that appear to be blown-out, in most cases, much can be done to restore detail. If the image was captured as a RAW file, all the better; that gives the Digital Imaging Specialist even more to work with.

 

More Examples in Portfolio Galleries

To see more examples of the extend that images can be “saved” visit the Improving Stock and the Improving Color + Light portfolio galleries.

Lets Work Together

Would you like to take advantage of our complementary image evaluation service to have over-exposed, under-exposed—and everything in-between—reviewed? Use the upload page to submit files, or visit our  Contact Us  page for the various ways to get in touch. We would be delighted to work with you on your next project.

Finally, thanks for reading. Leave a comment. Share with a friend—social media buttons above—if you found this article to be helpful, informative, or just interesting to read!

 

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On a Technical Note:

Are You Seeing What’s Actually In The File?

It is a given that a high quality, color-calibrated display is mandatory for graphic design and photo professionals. If you are reviewing images on an uncalibrated, aging, or low-end monitor, you may not be seeing what is actually in the file.

Test Your Display

Eizo, a manufacturer of high-end displays, published an informative article about display quality and display evaluation. To determine how your display is performing, download the test images provided with the article. Once on your local drive, open them in Photoshop or another photo editing program. If the results are less than satisfactory, consider investing in a better quality display, especially if your work involves image editing or image evaluation.

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Photos © Respective Image Owners ~ Writing © Martha DiMeo 2014

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Bringing out Shape & Detail in the Darkest of Colors

Posted by Martha DiMeo on June 13th, 2014 | No Comments

Light Hogs

“Is there detail in the blacks?” If you ever asked this question when reviewing photos of dramatically lit interiors, moody landscapes, product shots of black or dark colored items, or other innumerable possibilities of subject matter, the answer could very well be “absolutely.”

It is always challenging to photograph a subject that absorbs practically all of the light shining on it. Add to the mix a slightly under-exposed capture, or a composition that includes both dark and light elements with important detail and you have a perfect candidate for post-capture perfecting.

3 Examples~Blackbirds, Cala Lilies, & Dinnerware

When the color of the main subject is the darkest of darks, and the shooting situation does not lend itself to using supplementary lighting, fill cards, or multiple exposures to apply the HDR (high dynamic range) technique—as in the case of this photograph of a red-winged blackbird—the detail can be brought out in post-processing.

Before & After Photo Retouching showing recovery of shadow detailBefore/After–The amount of recovered detail viewable on-screen is highly depended
on the quality of your display. See “Test Your  Display” below.

Had the blackbird been a secondary element in the photograph rather than the main subject, the silhouette look of the bird in the Before version may have been acceptable. Whereas, in the After version—a winning close-up shot—the emphasized hidden details reveal the beauty of this delicate creature and now invites the viewer to linger.

In the second example the scenario was similar— the detail and color of the black calla lilies was hidden. It photographed as a black mass in this otherwise exquisite floral design. Post-capture editing allowed the true depth and color of the flowers to be revealed.

Before & After photo-retouching-black-lilies by-martha-dimeo, Photoshop SpecialistBefore/After

Finally, the third example illustrates a photographic nightmare in terms of dynamic range—black plates on a black table with black linen, juxtaposed next to white orchids.

The stationary nature of the subject matter certainly lend itself to using the HDR technique which involves combining multiple exposures to capture the full tonal range of a scene. But, it was not shot in that manner. I was provided with just a single frame from which to work. The result was a respectable job; the After image held up on press. Reproduced in a luxury wedding magazine, both the highlight and shadows had detail when translated to the printed page.

Before/After example showing tonal recovery of highlight and shadow detail.

Can Your Dark Image Be Saved?

If you are debating whether a dark image can be made suitable for reproduction in print or digital media (in other words “saved”), know that in most cases much can be done to render hidden details and create a pleasing interplay of light and shadow. If the image was captured as a RAW file, all the better.

To see more examples of the extend that images can be “saved” visit the Improving Stock and the Improving Color + Light portfolio galleries.

Are You Seeing What’s Actually In The File?

The last question to consider is whether you are seeing all the data in the file. The ability to “see into” the dark tones when viewing images on a computer display is highly depended on the quality of your display.

It is a given that a high quality, color-calibrated display is mandatory for graphic design and photo professionals. This requirement is most evident when evaluating images consisting mainly of tones at the dark end of the spectrum. Low-end displays do a poor job at rendering detail in dark areas.  As a result, you may not be seeing what is actually in the file.

Test Your Display

Eizo, a manufacturer of high-end displays, published an informative article about display quality and display evaluation. To determine how your display is performing, download the test images provided with the article. Once on your local drive, open them in Photoshop or another photo editing program. If the results are less than satisfactory, consider investing in a better quality display, especially if your work involves image editing or image evaluation.

 

© Martha DiMeo 2014

Photos © Respective Image Owners

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Crafting Chromatically Rich and Luminous Images

Posted by Martha DiMeo on July 16th, 2013 | 1 Comment

I Want Better Lighting

“If all the world’s a stage I want better lighting.”I couldn’t agree more with this humorous play on Shakespeare’s words. Most of us look far better under the flattering qualities of soft, diffused, light, positioned at a pleasing angle—along with just the right amount of fill-light—than say, the glare of a harsh spotlight.

The same is true in photography. Lighting can make or break a photograph. I would even go so far as to say that the concept and composition of an image can be superb but if the lighting is suffering, the photograph will have missed the mark.

Case in Point

This example, from the Improving Color + Lighting portfolio gallery, shows that the original photograph was not terribly bad, but it lacked contrast and certainly lent itself to improvement to both the lighting and color balance. My approach to retouching the photo was to envision how I would have handled the lighting had I been the photographer on the shoot. The first step in lighting design is to decide which elements should be emphasized and which elements should be made subordinate.

photo retouching to improve photographic lightingPhoto courtesy of the Spa at Snowflake, Stowe, Vt

In re-shaping the lighting, I considered the message of image. I wanted to draw the viewer into the experience of getting a massage—to create visually the feeling of being pampered.

I moved the emphasis away from the front of the massage table by darkening it, and brought emphasis to the hands of the masseuse and the granular texture of the scrub by lightening it. Now, the viewer’s eye is directed towards the most important elements in the image.  In “re-lighting” the scene, I had to be sure the lighting looked natural and realistic for the environment.  As in any retouching project, the corrections should be undetectable.

View Interactively to Really See the Difference

Visit the Color + Lighting portfolio gallery to view the image larger, and the  Before/ After as an interactive rollover.  (It’s the last image in the series.)

Pre or Post-Capture Lighting

There are umpteen reasons why a photograph may not have been properly lighted in the first place. The list includes but not limited to: locations with less than ideal available light, space constraints that make it impossible to set-up supplementary lighting, time constraints, setting up lighting would have disruptive the scene.

In addition, not all location photographers travel with studio lighting. Many photographers depend solely on available light and/or on-camera flash. In most shooting situations—and especially in editorial photography—capturing something is better than getting nothing. The underlying criteria for a photographer on any assignment is to bring back something the client can work with—as in the case of the spa image.

Room for Improvement

In most cases, lighting can be improved post-capture. With that said, if you are a photo editor, graphic designer, or art director, the take-away is to remember you do not have to compromise your quality standards if photographs selected for a given project have lighting issues. It is possible to move images to where they need to be for superb reproduction and to more effectively communicate the intended message.

If you are a photographer, the take-away is to know the initial capture is only the beginning of the process. Much can—and is often done—at the production stage to serve the design, message, and reproduction quality of the image.

Consider the Possibilities

Have photographs you would like me to review for possible lighting improvements? Visit the upload file page to submit images for a free, no obligation assessment.

Be sure to visit the Color + Lighting portfolio to see the complete gallery of chromatically rich and luminous Images.

© Martha DiMeo 2013

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The Original Shakespeare Quote
*“All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages.” —William Shakespeare