Refining Your Pictures
Good lighting, sharp focus, and an uncluttered background will get you 90 percent of the way toward a great eBay picture. Now it’s time for the last 10 percent.
You may want to refine your shots by cropping out unwanted stuff, such as the tabletop that appears on either side of your background. If the image looks a bit dull or washed out, you may want to lighten or darken it.
Today’s digital imaging programs have automatic features that can perform some of these steps for you with a single mouse click. We’ll cover those auto-fixers here; on the following pages, we’ll look at some manual options that give you more control. Many of our instructions are for Adobe Photoshop, Photoshop Elements, and Photoshop Album, but the underlying concepts apply to other imaging programs, too.
If you use eBay Enhanced Picture Services (introduced on page 42), you can also perform some basic photo refinements right within your browser. As the sidebar on the opposite page describes, eBay Enhanced Picture Services lets you crop photos as well as tweak their brightness and contrast.
But eBay Enhanced Picture Services is no digital darkroom, and it runs only with the Internet Explorer browser on Microsoft Windows systems. For these reasons, we recommend using a dedicated imaging program for photo fine-tuning.
For these examples, we photographed a Hall China creamer using the countertop setup shown on page 71.
Using your imaging program’s Crop tool , crop the photo to focus in on your subject and remove unwanted parts of the background. Here’s how it looks in Adobe’s free Photoshop Album Starter Edition.
Constraining crops. To constrain a crop area in Photoshop Album, choose 3 x 4 (DVD). In Photoshop and Photoshop Elements, click the Front Image button in the toolbar after you activate the Crop tool and before you begin drawing the crop rectangle. In Apple’s iPhoto, choose 4 x 3 (Book) from the Constrain pop-up menu.
Adjust Color and Levels
This is an optional step, but it’s often worth the effort. By fine-tuning color and exposure (technically, tonality), you can fix a photo that’s too light or too dark.
The one-click way. Most imaging programs have one-click fix features for adjusting color, tonality, and contrast.
In Photoshop Album’s General Fixes window, use the Auto Color, Auto Levels, and Auto Contrast buttons. In Photoshop Elements, choose Auto Smart Fix from the Enhance menu, or click the Quick Fix button near the upper-right corner of the Photoshop Elements window to display the Quick Fix controls shown here. In Apple’s iPhoto, use the Enhance button in iPhoto’s Edit mode.
Here’s our creamer photo before and after applying some fixes using Photoshop Elements’ Quick Fix window.