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Okay, I know these are not bass guitars, but I didn't have any real "complicated" pictures of basses to work on for you. I took this photograph of these Wisteria flowers at the Huntington Library's Japanese Garden in Pasadena, California. I found the background distracting and "messy", but I can't control the aperture on the Fuji camera (the aperature determines how much, from front to back, things will appear in focus). For this reason I simulated a shallow depth of field by bringing the image into Photoshop and doing it 'by hand'. I used the blur tool to selectively and incrementally blur some parts and not others. I also adjusted the hue, saturation, and contrast to make the image more closely represent what the flowers looked like in "real life" (there's that problematic phrase again!). Some final burning and dodging (darkening and lightening) also helped to make the edited photograph appear more three dimensional.
This is a picture of Nancy wearing kendo armor (kendo is a traditional Japanese martial art). Not having access to a 'real' photo studio, I just asked her to stand in front of a empty wall near the kitchen, with an open window acting as the light source. I used Photoshop to convert the image to black and white, "remove" the floor (rubber stamp tool), blur some areas (more blurring near the bottom to simulate large format photography), darken others with the burning tool, and crop the image. The idea was to create something similar to an old-fashioned, formal-looking portrait.
Examples One through Five show some of the typical editing tasks you'd commonly perform in Photoshop - color correcting, adjusting the levels (darks and lights), adjusting the saturation, sharpening, blurring, and so on. But there is also the question of how to save the file after you are finished working on it. You may have noticed that when you ask Photoshop to save a photograph to disk, it gives you a choice of several different file types. If the photograph is going to be used on the web, then you'll want to save it as a JPEG file. This format is easily viewed by browsers and makes pictures use less memory (smaller file sizes) by using compression. The more compressed an image is, the smaller its file size will be, and the smaller the file size, the faster the image will load in someone's browser.
Does this mean that the highest amount of compression is always the best? Well, no. The problem with high compression (smaller file sizes) is that it produces an image that doesn't look as good as images saved with lower amounts of compression (larger file sizes). The way I usually explain this to people is to imagine trying to fit an 4x6" phtograph into a container the size of a soda can. You may have to compress that photo a bit (crumple it up) in order to make it fit. But not much. And it'll only be a little wrinkly when you take it back out to view it. Now try imagining compressing that same photo into a smaller container - one the size of a matchbox. All that compression is going to produce more wrinkles and even after uncompressing the image, your photo is going to suffer a fair amount of image degradation. So how do you determine how much compression (and image loss) will be the right amount for any given image?
To help you decide I'll run a simple test that show you an example of what you're giving up and what you're gaining by choosing different amounts of JPEG compression.
<--maximum quality (40K)
Here's an image of a woman (her name is Anna). This is a JPEG image saved in Photoshop at "maximum quality" setting. This means that the image has the lowest amount of JPEG compression possible, resulting in the highest picture quality. This also means that without a lot of stuffing going on, you can expect to have a fairly large file size. This small picture, measuring only about 3.5 inches square, takes up 40 kilobytes of disk space. Here is the same image, only this time saved at the "high quality" setting:
<--high quality (32K)
Can you see the difference? Most people would have a pretty hard time telling the difference. Here's the same picture again, this time saved at the "medium quality" setting:
<--medium quality (24K)
How about now? Can you see any difference in image quality? Here's the last one, saved at the "low quality" image setting:
<--low quality setting (20K)
Okay, I HOPE you can see a difference in this one! This highly compressed image is half the size the one saved with maximum image quality, but as you can easily (?) see, Anna's face, necklace, and strands of hair are noticably more jaggy. This "jaggyness" is often called "noise" or "artifacts", and is produced by the higher level of compression.
On the BunnyBass site, most of the images of basses are saved at the "high quality" setting. I consider the trade off in quality between "maximum" and "high" to be acceptable (most of the time), while I think the "medium quality" setting produces enough artifacts that it does start to bugs me. But it really is a matter of personal preference. In fact, some people will have a very difficult time seeing differences in ANY of the above images (if this is you, or if you just want to see what compression really does to your images - click here!). Ultimately it's really up to you to choose. If in doubt, just choose "high" and cross your fingers that the visitors to your website have a cable modem!
Well, that's all I have for now. Like the Photo Tips page, I'll be adding more stuff later. If you have any questions, send them to me, and when I have time I'll try to address them in these pages. See you soon!
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