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Editing your photos for sewists

Confession … I have Photoshop but I don’t use it…  I get it as part of my subscription to Adobe Creative Cloud (along with Illustrator, Indesign and Acrobat Pro which I use every day), but I still do my photo editing in PicMonkey.

Brooke from Bug and Miss does her editing in Photoshop so I’ve asked her to come along and help out with some more advanced tips for those who’ve moved beyond PicMonkey!  If you’re in that camp skip down to the end for Brooke’s tips.

Editing your photos for sewists

BASIC EDITS – using PicMonkey

Cropping your photos in picmonkey

Crop – Having your image cropped correctly is important for how it looks design wise and also for how it displays on social media platforms. Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter and Google Plus will resize most of your images to fit (except for cover photos), but you need to get the image aspect right to have your images display to their best advantage. Use this tool to crop a landscape or portrait image to a square image for use on Instagram or a landscape image to a portrait image for use on Pinterest.

When cropping consider where the focal point of the image will be.  The cropping box has a grid printed on it which can make it easy to line up your image according to ‘the rule of thirds’ – you can read more about that -> HERE

Rotating in Picmonkey

Rotate – This can be used to rotate images 90, 180, 270 degrees, but also to straighten images. Useful when you find you’ve photographed your mannequin on a slight angle. The image is magnified & cropped as it is straightened, so make sure you do this before cropping if it is necessary.

Adjusting exposure in picmonkey

Exposure – you can either choose to “auto adjust” or take control of the brightness, highlights, shadows and contrast yourself.  Changing the exposure can make a huge difference to your images. The best advice is to play until you like how it looks.

Using the neutral picker tool in picmonkey

Colours – When editing photos of your stock getting the colours right is really important. Some fabrics look very different when photographed to real life. These tools are the ones you want to use if you find that the colours in your pictures are not exactly right.

Here you can adjust the strength of certain colours, for instance you can enhance the blues or the reds in an image. I generally don’t play with these too much, but I do use the Neutral Picker tool quite a lot. You click the neutral picker on an area of the picture which should be white and it adjusts the other colours accordingly.

Sharpen – This tool can help your subject really pop and stand out from the background.

Resize – excellent for resizing your images for web use. I use 800px for most of my web images so they don’t take forever to upload. There’s a heap of excellent infograms on the web giving exact sizes required for social media images as this seems to change every year.

EFFECTS – using PicMonkey

You can use this tab to add filter tints to your photos. Make them black and white or sepia. You can soften or darken just the edges. You can even change the focus on parts of your images. I wouldn’t use these features for my stock photography as I want the colours etc of those photos to be realistic however these filters can be excellent for social media or promotional images. When you first start out the options can be overwhelming. I recommend you try them all – then choose a few you really like and stick to them until you’re more confident.

Using the clone tool in picmonkey

There are extra options too that come with the paid Royale version ($33USD/year last time I looked). Clone is one I’ve recently started playing with and love. You can use clone to copy one part of the photo to another. This is particularly useful if you’re trying to remove something from an image eg.this door latch and the seam in the timber.

Brooke’s Editing Tips

I love the editing process. It’s that part of photography where you can shut yourself away from your melt-down model with a choccie in hand, and pull some magic out of your photos. I am entirely self-taught, and still learning myself, but that’s half the fun – having a play and seeing what works! Editing comes down to two main processes – your clean edit, and your creative edits.

Clean Edit example - front of Firefly Dress   Clean Edit example - back of Firefly Dress

Clean edits

Clean edits are the technical edits; your white balance is set correctly, exposure, contrast, and shadows adjusted, whites and blacks accurate, sharpening applied, some noise reduction, and some small mark healing. Essentially, as the name suggests, it’s just a clean version of your photo.

Creative Edit example - front of Firefly Dress   Creative Edit example - back of Firefly Dress

Creative edits

Creative edits are what I call the lifestyle edits; they tell your story. Creative edits come after your clean edit, and include the use of things like fi lters and overlays (like stickers and text). Filters are everywhere now, from Instagram to Photoshop actions, and you can even apply them as you upload to Facebook from a mobile device. There are apps for stickers and text, and a multitude of ways you can make your photos stand out.

Signature Style

A signature style of creative editing can help build your brands awareness and recognition. It creates a lifestyle that your customers can connect with. Use this connection as a selling tool, and sell your brand as a way of life.  All of these editing tools can help create an eye catching photo to show off your work, but keep in mind, creative editing can and does change your essentially clean edit.

What does that mean?

With the use of filters etc, your greens may start to appear more blue, your pinks more purple, and that beautiful fabric you spent hours selecting before sewing your item suddenly isn’t looking like itself anymore.

It’s really important to show your customer the true colours of your item, so keep that in mind when doing your creative editing.


Editing Quickies: The basics

Warm White Balance

Warm White Balance

Cool White Balance

Cool White Balance

– Adjust that white balance! Find a white/neutral toned area of your photo, and adjust the white balance accordingly.  Balancing your whites means the rest of your colours look true to life. I can always tell when someone has shot a photo inside under artificial lights and not adjusted the white balance – the overall photo will have a very warm yellow tint to it (Yep, that’s when your naturally white walls appear creamy!)

– Set your exposure. Exposure is the overall lightness/ darkness of your photo. You want well-balanced exposure get the most out of product photography.  Over exposure (blown out highlights) and under exposure (heavy, dark shadowing) causes a loss of detail, and you don’t want to leave the details to your customer’s imagination.  Over exposure can also cause some colours to bleed, particularly reds and magentas, which can be tricky little numbers to work with 😉

My personal preference for my style of photography, is to push the boundaries of exposure to just a touch over, as I like a nice, bright photo, but still watching I don’t lose detailing and/or blow out my colours.

Adjusted version

Adjusted Version:
– white balance adjusted (neutral area is appearing neutral)
– exposure is adjusted and colours are accurate
– saturation adjusted.
More specifically, I adjusted the saturation of the magenta
slightly in this one, as reds/magentas are known to bleed and/or
blow out, and you can loose your detail – and sometimes make
it look radioactive!)

– Saturation is something you can look at you are photographing reds and magentas (the main two colour groups that have problems with bleeding).  Saturation is the strength of the colours, so pulling the saturation down results in a black and white photo, while pushing the saturation up results in a lurid, neon effect. If you can work in a program like Adobe Camera Raw where you can isolate your colour groups, it helps with adjusting the saturation, as you can adjust just one or two colour groups to your preference instead of trying to balance the photo as a whole – which can be hard when you have a soft peach colour next to a blown out fire truck red!

For more blog posts in this series start here:

Photo Fortnight - let's start at the beginning


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