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Re: "Photoshopping" (or gimping) and truth-in-advertising

 
 
rjn
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      05-30-2008
Ignoramus23731 <ignoramus23...@NOSPAM.23731.invalid> wrote:

> I am learning slowly ...


Do not exceed your level of competence.
If the average bidder can see an obvious Photoshopping,
they are apt to be suspicious.

> ... do you think that it is going too far?


For ma&pa sellers, my advocacy is:

Don't make the photos look TOO professional.
Leave in slightly amateurish clues. The more it
looks like a catalog photo, the more the bidder
will think it is, and wonder if you are just image
deprived ... up through ... do you even have the item.

Fix the white point, black point and gamma.
Fix the white balance and color saturation.
Rectify severe keystoning.
Crop to the essentials.
Sharpen tastefully.

But leave the background in, blurring it if
necessary, so that it isn't distracting.

If using self-hosted JPEG, leave the EXIF data in.

If the item came in a box, include the open
box in the background.

Make the image convey product information, be
pleasing to the eye, but obviously of the
actual item being auctioned.

I've done product photography for data sheets,
but for my auctions:

* I leave the background in, make sure
it isn't too distracting, and blur it in
Photoshop so it compresses more.

* I use flash (or not), strive to avoid
blinding direct reflections, but don't
worry too much about small specular
highlights. Make it look just a bit
amateurish.

I want it to be clear that these are real photos
of the actual items being auctioned, and not
maker web/catalog images, or swipes from some
other eBay'er.

Obscure tip:

I include a Mini Colorchecker (B&H XRMCCC) in my
raw images to assist with color correction. If
any color shift/fading is important w.r.t. the
auction item (e.g. art print), I leave the card image
in the posted image, so that picky bidders
can form their own opinion.

Dissent exists.

Now if your business is a real volume professional
matter, then by all means DO make the photos look
very professional. For someone using eBay for B2B
sales of industrial goods, the pristine photo-studio look
might well be preferable. For casual sellers, it might not.

If I'm buying a graphics card from a low-volume seller,
for example, I prefer a slightly amateurish shot of
the card on its anti-static bag, with the proposed
shipping carton in the background. I want evidence
that they have the card, and know how to handle and
pack it.

Of course, never forget that a key role of photos
is to convey information. Technical detail beats
glamour every time. Excessive production values don't
necessarily work in your favor.

And this reply doesn't even get into the topic of
watermarking. If your photos are obviously of items
specific to a single unique auction, odds are that
other users won't swipe them anyway.

> I and many others block all articles originating
> from Google Groups.


Then get a decent newsreader that can let some GG
content it, or you will miss useful info.

--
Regards, Bob Niland (E-Mail Removed)
http://www.access-one.com/rjn email4rjn AT yahoo DOT com
NOT speaking for any employer, client or Internet Service Provider.
 
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tony cooper
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      05-31-2008
On Fri, 30 May 2008 16:05:25 -0700 (PDT), rjn <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:

>Don't make the photos look TOO professional.
>Leave in slightly amateurish clues. The more it
>looks like a catalog photo, the more the bidder
>will think it is, and wonder if you are just image
>deprived ... up through ... do you even have the item.


I've never liked Don Lancaster's images for this reason. They look
like airbrushed artwork.

I don't subscribe to your suggestion of leaving in a slightly
amateurish clue, but I do believe in stopping short of making the item
look like a commercial art school poster project.

>Fix the white point, black point and gamma.
>Fix the white balance and color saturation.
>Rectify severe keystoning.
>Crop to the essentials.
>Sharpen tastefully.


#2 and #3 should be addressed when taking the photograph. Setting the
white balance manually in the camera when taking the shot all but
eliminates image processing needs in this area. Correctly positioning
the camera when taking the shot all but eliminates keystoning.

Too many people get carried away with sharpening. The result is
noise.

I do use Adobe Photoshop, but I try to set up the photo so that very
little Photoshopping is required.

> * I use flash (or not), strive to avoid
> blinding direct reflections, but don't
> worry too much about small specular
> highlights. Make it look just a bit
> amateurish.


I avoid using flash. You only know the results after you've uploaded
the images. Exterior lighting allows you to see what will be on the
image.

You and I aren't very far apart in our approach even though I do some
things differently. We both seem to be doing what works for us.
--
Tony Cooper - Orlando, Florida
 
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rjn
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      05-31-2008
tony cooper <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> I've never liked Don Lancaster's images for this reason.
> They look like airbrushed artwork.


The one he referenced on this thread is frankly eerie.

> #2 and #3 should be addressed when taking the photograph.
> Setting the white balance manually in the camera ...


Not all digicams can do that (e.g. cell phone cams,
which is the only digicam some sellers have), and
not everyone has a reliable white reference object.
I do, but proper white cards aren't cheap. If you can
only afford one photo reference card, get the Xrite
(formerly MacBeth) Mini ColorChecker. Even so, it's $60.

I might add, for the benefit of the OP, that none of
these tips are useful if your monitor isn't at least
half-vast calibrated. Even so, do the PS corrections by
the numbers, and not by eye. Most cheap LCD monitors
cannot properly track grayscale. Mine wasn't cheap,
but it is still pink in the light grays.

> Correctly positioning the camera when taking the
> shot all but eliminates keystoning.


Sure, but it's not always possible. Even on my copy
stand, I have to run PS Actions to remove wide-angle
barrel distortion on LP album covers.

> Too many people get carried away with sharpening.
> The result is noise.


Yep. I often forget to do any.

> I avoid using flash. You only know the results after
> you've uploaded the images.


Flash glare is the #1 defect in eBay images, with soft
focus running a close second (esp. on coins .
You'd think people would at least think to shoot flat
objects at a slight angle, but usually they don't.
Flash is also the hallmark of "not a catalog rip".
and meets my "leave a subtle clue in" rule.

The Don's subtle clue technique is to swap the legends
on a couple of scope controls, although he does it
for copy-prevention reasons. I can't even speculate
on what reaction that provokes in a buyer who notices.

--
Regards, Bob Niland (E-Mail Removed)
http://www.access-one.com/rjn email4rjn AT yahoo DOT com
NOT speaking for any employer, client or Internet Service Provider.
 
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Lumpy
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      05-31-2008
rjn wrote:
> The Don's subtle clue technique is to swap the legends
> on a couple of scope controls, although he does it
> for copy-prevention reasons. I can't even speculate
> on what reaction that provokes in a buyer who notices.


I always wondered about a buyer who doesn't read
all the ad copy (is there such an animal?..

"The photo showed a 24v primary and a 110v secondary.
The transformer I received had a 110v primary
and a 24v secondary"


Lumpy

You Played on Lawrence Welk?
Yes but no blue notes. Just blue hairs.

www.LumpyGuitar.net


 
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tony cooper
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      05-31-2008
On Sat, 31 May 2008 06:08:02 -0700 (PDT), rjn <(E-Mail Removed)>
wrote:

>tony cooper <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
>> #2 and #3 should be addressed when taking the photograph.
>> Setting the white balance manually in the camera ...

>
>Not all digicams can do that (e.g. cell phone cams,
>which is the only digicam some sellers have), and
>not everyone has a reliable white reference object.
>I do, but proper white cards aren't cheap. If you can
>only afford one photo reference card, get the Xrite
>(formerly MacBeth) Mini ColorChecker. Even so, it's $60.


I use a sheet of white card stock. Just ordinary card stock, and it
seems to work fine. Maybe I'm satisfied with it because I've never
tried a real designated "white card".

It seems to me that the objective is to establish to the camera what
the color temperature of the subject's lighting is, and to use that
same setting for the entire series of photos. Using the automatic
setting, the reading can vary from image to image because of changes
in ambient light so backgrounds and parts of the image are not
consistent in color. So, even if my white is not *white*, I'm getting
consistency.

I'd ask about this in one of the photography groups, but I'm afraid
the replies would be overly technical and not practical. Some of the
posters in these groups don't like to give simple, useful answers.

--
Tony Cooper - Orlando, Florida
 
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Lumpy
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      05-31-2008
tony cooper wrote:
> I'd ask about this in one of the photography groups, but I'm afraid
> the replies would be overly technical and not practical. Some of the
> posters in these groups don't like to give simple, useful answers.


I'll give a simple answer.

Take a picture. Look at it.
Does it look ok on your monitor?
If so, use it.

It's guaranteed to look different on my monitor.
$60 for a piece of white paper? On a low rez photo
of an eBay item? That will be seen on everything from
a cellphone to a home theatre monitor to a 16 color CRT?
I'd like to sell you some Monster cable power cords
so that you can get all your audio electrons aligned
in the proper direction.


Lumpy

You Played on Lawrence Welk?
Yes but no blue notes. Just blue hairs.

www.LumpyGuitar.net


 
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tony cooper
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Posts: n/a
 
      05-31-2008
On Sat, 31 May 2008 07:23:40 -0700, "Lumpy"
<(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

>tony cooper wrote:
>> I'd ask about this in one of the photography groups, but I'm afraid
>> the replies would be overly technical and not practical. Some of the
>> posters in these groups don't like to give simple, useful answers.

>
>I'll give a simple answer.
>
>Take a picture. Look at it.
>Does it look ok on your monitor?
>If so, use it.


If you are taking one or two photos of an object, or if you are taking
a photo of a large item in a room setting, it really doesn't matter
for eBay use.

Where it matters is when you are taking a series of photos, especially
a series of close-ups on a background. In my case, I often take
close-up shots of the front and back and merge the two images into
one. If the colors are different, the image looks wrong.

Besides, there's the element of doing everything the best way even if
the use is unimportant. If you're singing and playing to a
three-year-old, it doesn't make any difference if you hit a few flat
notes or screw-up the words. But, instinctively, you try to do right
because that's what you do.


--
Tony Cooper - Orlando, Florida
 
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BrotherBart
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      05-31-2008
Tony:

>I'd ask about this in one of the photography groups, but I'm afraid
>the replies would be overly technical and not practical. Some of the
>posters in these groups don't like to give simple, useful answers.


Unlike a.m.o.e.



 
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rjn
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      05-31-2008
"Lumpy" <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:

> Take a picture. Look at it.
> Does it look ok on your monitor?
> If so, use it.
> It's guaranteed to look different on my monitor.


And the question is: how different?

Where I work, some of the marketing PDFs have
comically oversaturated colors. The company apparently
has (or had) a marketing "professional" whose monitor
was way far from calibrated, and they never bothered
to do an "air check" on what the results might look
like on typical customer systems. It screams "amateur"
in what is supposed to be a "pro" document. Avoid that.

> $60 for a piece of white paper?


It's obviously not a piece of generic white paper.
It's a "precise uniform surface that is spectrally
neutral under all lighting condition". A lot of
photography is now done under flourescent light
(mine is), and the problem with FL is not just
color temp, but a really crappy spectrum. Using a
real WC to set WB saves a lot of work in PS.

> On a low rez photo of an eBay item?
> That will be seen on everything from
> a cellphone to a home theatre monitor to a 16 color CRT?


Guitar strings? Auto WB in cam suffices.
Used CDs: Ditto.
Rare LPs: Cover condition is starting to matter.

If you are selling a $3000 limited edition art print,
as I did once on eBay, you not only need to color-
correct your images, but also leave a color reference
in at least one of them, so that critical bidders have
a reference for assessing the item condition (and
bidders with screwed up monitors can perhaps catch a
clue). The Mini ColorChecker suffices for this. If you
only use one tool, use the CC.

Ordinary white paper suffices for most WB needs.

> I'd like to sell you some Monster cable power cords
> so that you can get all your audio electrons aligned
> in the proper direction.


Magic power cords are an even bigger laugh than magic
speaker cable. "Monster" may only describe the margins.
What most people need on the AC side of audio equipment
is surge protection. Lightning got a ceiling fan, a
garage door opener, and at least one LAN switch port
here last week

Most eBay sellers do not need advanced color management
tools. Those that do, are often unaware of the neat
mini tools available. Now the readers here know, and
can decide for themselves.

--
Regards, Bob Niland (E-Mail Removed)
http://www.access-one.com/rjn email4rjn AT yahoo DOT com
NOT speaking for any employer, client or Internet Service Provider.
 
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Don Lancaster
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Posts: n/a
 
      05-31-2008
rjn wrote:
> tony cooper <(E-Mail Removed)> wrote:
>
>> I've never liked Don Lancaster's images for this reason.
>> They look like airbrushed artwork.

>
> The one he referenced on this thread is frankly eerie.
>
>> #2 and #3 should be addressed when taking the photograph.
>> Setting the white balance manually in the camera ...

>
> Not all digicams can do that (e.g. cell phone cams,
> which is the only digicam some sellers have), and
> not everyone has a reliable white reference object.
> I do, but proper white cards aren't cheap. If you can
> only afford one photo reference card, get the Xrite
> (formerly MacBeth) Mini ColorChecker. Even so, it's $60.
>
> I might add, for the benefit of the OP, that none of
> these tips are useful if your monitor isn't at least
> half-vast calibrated. Even so, do the PS corrections by
> the numbers, and not by eye. Most cheap LCD monitors
> cannot properly track grayscale. Mine wasn't cheap,
> but it is still pink in the light grays.
>
>> Correctly positioning the camera when taking the
>> shot all but eliminates keystoning.

>
> Sure, but it's not always possible. Even on my copy
> stand, I have to run PS Actions to remove wide-angle
> barrel distortion on LP album covers.
>
>> Too many people get carried away with sharpening.
>> The result is noise.

>
> Yep. I often forget to do any.
>
>> I avoid using flash. You only know the results after
>> you've uploaded the images.

>
> Flash glare is the #1 defect in eBay images, with soft
> focus running a close second (esp. on coins .
> You'd think people would at least think to shoot flat
> objects at a slight angle, but usually they don't.
> Flash is also the hallmark of "not a catalog rip".
> and meets my "leave a subtle clue in" rule.
>
> The Don's subtle clue technique is to swap the legends
> on a couple of scope controls, although he does it
> for copy-prevention reasons. I can't even speculate
> on what reaction that provokes in a buyer who notices.
>
> --
> Regards, Bob Niland (E-Mail Removed)
> http://www.access-one.com/rjn email4rjn AT yahoo DOT com
> NOT speaking for any employer, client or Internet Service Provider.


Flash glare can be taken out with our airbrush utility.
White balance is easily corrected with ImageView32.

http://www.tinaja.com/glib/postproc.pdf


--
Many thanks,

Don Lancaster voice phone: (92428-4073
Synergetics 3860 West First Street Box 809 Thatcher, AZ 85552
rss: http://www.tinaja.com/whtnu.xml email: http://www.velocityreviews.com/forums/(E-Mail Removed)

Please visit my GURU's LAIR web site at http://www.tinaja.com
 
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