PP question from a total noob

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by JillH, Mar 18, 2010.

  1. JillH

    JillH TPF Noob!

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    I'd like advice on post processing, specifically cropping and saving.

    I've been doing only basic processing (exposure, contrast, color correction) and cropping to 8x10 size for printing in the future. But is there a standard size that is best to crop pictures (other than taking out distractions or highlighting the focal point) - 8x10? 5x7? Also, what file format is best for saving the files? If I understand correctly, jpeg format flattens the photo and creates a problem if you want to 'do' anything with the photo's file in the future.

    TIA for the advice and patience.
     
  2. Stamp

    Stamp TPF Noob!

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    Do you shoot in RAW or JPEG?
     
  3. JillH

    JillH TPF Noob!

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    jpeg
     
  4. Stamp

    Stamp TPF Noob!

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    If you're shooting in JPEG, then saving it as a JPEG after PP shouldn't make a difference. Although, each time you do any PP to a JPEG, it starts to lose IQ. I'd suggest shooting in RAW, and doing all your adjusting before you convert it to a JPEG so it doesn't lose any image quality, and also you'll be able to adjust the white balance in PP with a RAW file, so you don't need to worry about getting it correct when you take the photo like you have to if you shoot in JPEG.
     
  5. JillH

    JillH TPF Noob!

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    Thanks - I can go to raw in the future. Sadly I have several thousand photos already shot in jpeg that I can't reshoot (location).
     
  6. Hamtastic

    Hamtastic TPF Noob!

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    The old school standard sizes are 4x5, 5x7, 8x10, 11x14, and 16x20. 5x7 is a completely different aspect ratio than all the others. 11x14 is also different from all the others, although close to 4:5 aspect ratio. It will be easiest to find frames in these sizes, and people are familiar with these sizes.

    35mm film and most DSLRs have a 2:3 aspect ratio, which would be: 4x6, 5x7.5, 6x9, 8x12, 10x15, 12x18, 16x24, 20x30, etc... without cropping. Although these sizes sound less common it's not to hard to find frames and pre-cut mats in these sizes.

    Beyond that there are squares and panos. Squares are obviously 1:1. Some common pano aspect ratios are 2:1, 9:16, and 2:5.

    I recommend cropping to whatever aspect ratio that results in a better looking photo. Photographers often get caught up in the limitation of the devices, but why let a camera designer or frame maker decide what size your photo should be? They haven't even seen it. :) There have been several studies where the dimensions of many great works of flat, 2D art have been assessed to look for patterns. They did not find a preferred aspect ratio as far as the dimensions of the piece go.

    Sometimes the use of the photo will dictate the size/aspect ratio.

    I tend to use aspect ratios I think of as typical (2:3, 4:5, 5:7). I am trying to break out of this mindset, as I can't see why it's anything but a limitation.

    Adobe Camera Raw and Adobe Lightroom allow for non-destructive editing of jpeg. These make layers invisible, but until the photo is exported as a jpeg from the processing software it is non-destructive editing.

    Jpeg is also a compressed file format. It deteriorates a bit every time it's resaved. So if you repeatedly open, process, and re-save a jpeg it could develop artifacts.

    I start with a raw file, and try to do most of the processing in ACR. If I have to open the raw file in CS to process it is then saved as a psd (if it has layers) or tiff (if it didn't have layers). My last step before printing or display would be to save a copy as a jpeg.
     
  7. JillH

    JillH TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the explanation. I do have one more question (I apologize for being dense/a pain on this). As I mentioned, all my photos are already in jpeg format, downloaded onto my external hard drive one time from my SD card. If I decide to save them to a disk or to an on-line archive, will the photos deteriorate at all, or does that happen only if I open them, modify them, then re-save them? Does saving a modified photo file in tiff format prevent deterioration?
     
  8. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    A JPEG is only recompressed after an edit/modification. Copying the images to a different storage location, disc or on-line, will not cause them to be re-compressed. Opening the file and closing the file also doesn't result in re-compression.

    In addition to non-destructive editing in ACR & Lightroom (Lightroom is a version of ACR) you can also use adjustment layers in Photoshop to do non-destructive editing of images.

    Part of the problem with the JPEG file format is it can only accomodate an 8-bit color depth, meaning it will only render 256 variations of color in each color channel: red, green, and blue.

    Other file formats like RAW and TIFF can accomadate a 16-bit color depth or 65,536 variations of color in each color channel. That means smoother color transisitons and less chance of banding or posterization when displaying or printing an image.
     
  9. Hamtastic

    Hamtastic TPF Noob!

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    Copying the files is fine. When a photo is opened in Photoshop you are actually working on a sort of temporary psd. Then when you save the photo (changed or not) it applies jpeg compression. The repeated compression is the problem.

    Tiff is not compressed when saved, so it can be opened and saved repeatedly without compression issues.

    In my experience jpegs are not as fragile as commonly advised. Do a test opening, change something, and resaving the same jpeg 10 times with jpeg quality 8 to 10 (PS max is 12). I usually can't see artifacts at this point. It's almost like you'd have to try to damage the file. On the other hand it's easy enough to use a workflow where saving as a jpeg only occurs once or twice. But it's nothing to get worried about if you open and resave a jpeg a few times, especially if saving at max quality.
     
    Last edited: Mar 18, 2010
  10. Hamtastic

    Hamtastic TPF Noob!

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    In the sense that Photoshop will not give you the "save" option if you haven't changed anything, but if you were to choose "save as" and force the save as a jpeg it would apply the compression again.
     
  11. KmH

    KmH Helping photographers learn to fish Supporting Member

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    Yep. Anytime the JPEG compression dialog box pops up, it's going to get re-compressed. So saving a copy of the image with a different file name will also cause it to be recompressed.

    If you just "close" the file no compression.
     
  12. JillH

    JillH TPF Noob!

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    Awesome! Thank you all for very helpful information and advice.
     

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