Friday, January 1, 2016

Rant: Consider Output Size for Online Viewing

Nikon D750, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 + TC14II @ 700mm, 1/800, f/8, ISO 6400
How can we help the look of our photos when the subject is not perfectly in focus or is even somewhat blurry due to camera shake or subject motion?  I have found that I like some photos I've taken as long as they're not viewed too large.  Keep them small and they look okay but viewed large they may end up in the trash.  What's more, my tolerance for a soft or blurred image is a moving target and it goes both ways.  In other words, what I would not have tolerated yesterday may be okay today or what I tolerated yesterday is trash-bound today.  Not sure what that says about me as a photographer but that may be a subject for another day.

Nikon D750, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 + TC14II @ 700mm, 1/800, f/8, ISO 6400
So, back to the question of how to improve the look of a photo that is not in critical focus or contains unintended subject blur. By the way, this pertains to a photo that one intends to show others, otherwise, it doesn't matter.  By extension, I'm talking about online output here.  

Nikon D750, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 + TC14II @ 700mm, 1/1600, f/8, ISO 6400
So, after doing everything you can think of to salvage a photo you like otherwise, consider reducing the size of the output before hitting the submit button to share with the world.  For example, several photos presented here are output with the long edge at 1024 pixels as opposed to the 2048 pixels I usually output at.  Why?  Because they miss the mark in some way and I don't want the error to be featured full-on in the face of the viewer because I think the photo may have some merit despite its flaws and if all you see are flaws, the photo is garbage.

Nikon D750, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 + TC14II @ 700mm, 1/250, f/8, ISO 6400
This way, my hope is you'll see the photos here and simply think something like, "nice photo".  If I allowed you to view it larger your reaction may be something more akin to, "Yuck.  Why would you show that?"  The reason could be I missed focus, therefore, it's not critically sharp or I didn't have the shutter speed fast enough so it's blurry or it contains excess noise from high ISO which reduces detail, etc.  I certainly don't want to show everything I shoot because I care about what is seen and what I allow to be seen defines my work which defines me as a photographer.  What I allowed to be seen yesterday or last year may not make the cut tomorrow.  My Flickr site is what I've put out there for others to see and, therefore, defines my work at this time...or at least to the time of the last photo posted.  Sometimes I go through all the photos there and wonder why I posted some of them because I wouldn't do so today.  In fact, there have been times I've deleted some of what I posted but have refrained from doing so for awhile now because I hope to go through them and see progress being made from the earlier times to the present.

Nikon D750, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 + TC14II @ 700mm, 1/250, f/8, ISO 6400
So what brought this article about?  In a word, Facebook (FB).  I'd been off FB for the last couple years but recently re-engaged when told of a couple sites, one of which has to do with birding.  Since I do wildlife photography and birds make up a lot of that I thought it might be nice to view, comment, post, and get feedback from other birders.  The site in question is set up and attended by serious birders so my expectations were that the photos presented would be of a high quality.  That assumption turned out to be mostly, wrong.  What I've noticed is if an image entices me to click it to view it larger it more often than not makes me say, "yuck" because either the intended subject is not in focus or not sharp or blurred from camera/subject movement or pixelated because it's being viewed way too large.  Now, consider if the poster had uploaded the photo to remain small.  I'd go on thinking it was a nice image and may "like" it or even comment on it.  No harm, no foul.  As it is, I cannot in good conscience do anything of the sort.  Instead, my thought process is more like, "Why, why, why did you post that?  Yuck!"  

Nikon D750, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 + TC14II @ 700mm, 1/800, f/8, ISO 1800
If the photo is to be viewed large then at least try to remember to view it that way before uploading to see what it looks like.  If it looks good, then go for it but if not, one should consider uploading a small version of it so the viewer is not assaulted with visual garbage once they click it.  As a general rule, if I post a photo and leave it small it's because I found there is something about it I didn't like (usually missed focus or blur) but as a small file it looks okay.

Nikon D750, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 + TC14II @ 700mm, 1/250, f/8, ISO 6400
I'm currently using Lightroom 6 for editing so I can speak to how to set the size of an image for output with it:  First, right-click an image and click on "Export" which will present a pop-up.  Next, scroll down to "Image Sizing" and check the box, "Resize to Fit" and select "Long Edge" in the drop-down.  In the box just below that select "pixels" and enter 600, 800, 1024, 2048 or whatever.  After exporting the image to a file on your computer open it to see what it will look like.  If you like it your done but if not, go back to the Export option and type in a different number until the size is right.

Nikon D750, Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 + TC14II @ 700mm, 1/500, f/8, ISO 110
Now, don't think that I think I'm perfect and my photos are great.  I don't and they're not.  But I am trying and the last thing I want is for someone to click one of my photos for a larger view and come face-to-face with obvious visual garbage.  Most of the photos posted in this article will not make it any further than this blog post and they are intended for the illustrative purposes of this post.  If I put an image on Flickr I'm saying, "This represents my work".  If I put it on FB it should say the same thing.  If it's not critically sharp and in focus as intended, I'll output a smaller size so it's not noticeable or not output it at all.  I just wish others would do the same.

Nikon D750, Nikon 300mm f/4E PF @ 300mm, 1/3200, f/4 ISO 100

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