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

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by rjn, May 31, 2008.

  1. rjn

    rjn Guest

    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 mailto:
    http://www.access-one.com/rjn email4rjn AT yahoo DOT com
    NOT speaking for any employer, client or Internet Service Provider.
     
    rjn, May 31, 2008
    #1
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  2. rjn

    tony cooper Guest

    On Fri, 30 May 2008 16:05:25 -0700 (PDT), rjn <>
    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
     
    tony cooper, May 31, 2008
    #2
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  3. rjn

    rjn Guest

    tony cooper <> 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 mailto:
    http://www.access-one.com/rjn email4rjn AT yahoo DOT com
    NOT speaking for any employer, client or Internet Service Provider.
     
    rjn, May 31, 2008
    #3
  4. rjn

    Lumpy Guest

    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
     
    Lumpy, May 31, 2008
    #4
  5. rjn

    tony cooper Guest

    On Sat, 31 May 2008 06:08:02 -0700 (PDT), rjn <>
    wrote:

    >tony cooper <> 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
     
    tony cooper, May 31, 2008
    #5
  6. rjn

    Lumpy Guest

    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
     
    Lumpy, May 31, 2008
    #6
  7. rjn

    tony cooper Guest

    On Sat, 31 May 2008 07:23:40 -0700, "Lumpy"
    <> 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
     
    tony cooper, May 31, 2008
    #7
  8. rjn

    BrotherBart Guest

    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.
     
    BrotherBart, May 31, 2008
    #8
  9. rjn

    rjn Guest

    "Lumpy" <> 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 mailto:
    http://www.access-one.com/rjn email4rjn AT yahoo DOT com
    NOT speaking for any employer, client or Internet Service Provider.
     
    rjn, May 31, 2008
    #9
  10. rjn wrote:
    > tony cooper <> 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 mailto:
    > 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: (928)428-4073
    Synergetics 3860 West First Street Box 809 Thatcher, AZ 85552
    rss: http://www.tinaja.com/whtnu.xml email:

    Please visit my GURU's LAIR web site at http://www.tinaja.com
     
    Don Lancaster, May 31, 2008
    #10
  11. rjn

    tony cooper Guest

    On Sat, 31 May 2008 08:40:12 -0700, Don Lancaster <>
    wrote:

    >>> 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.


    >Flash glare can be taken out with our airbrush utility.
    >White balance is easily corrected with ImageView32.
    >
    >http://www.tinaja.com/glib/postproc.pdf


    This is why you spend 90% of your time in "postproc". Instead of
    dicking around in "postproc" removing flash glare, stop using flash.
    Use those cheap, clip-on utility lights with those curly bulbs that
    don't cause heat, and position them to reduce and offset shadows.
    Set the white balance in the camera if you have a camera where this
    can be done.

    --
    Tony Cooper - Orlando, Florida
     
    tony cooper, May 31, 2008
    #11
  12. rjn

    rjn Guest

    Don Lancaster <> wrote:

    > Flash glare can be taken out with our airbrush utility.


    Not if whole areas are blown out to white, as is
    too often the case on casual eBay images.

    When you have to shoot a flat object face-on,
    either don't use flash, use off-axis slave flash,
    or just tilt the flash head up for ceiling-reflected
    light (being mindful that this can mangle the WB) .

    Every minute spent tweaking the shoot usually
    saves 10 minutes in Post. Exceptions exist, of
    course, such as if the object is truly flat and you
    have to use on-camera flash. An example is a
    document page, the seller doesn't own a scanner,
    and can't turn off the flash. In that case, shoot
    off-axis and correct the geometry in Post.

    --
    Regards, Bob Niland mailto:
    http://www.access-one.com/rjn email4rjn AT yahoo DOT com
    NOT speaking for any employer, client or Internet Service Provider.
     
    rjn, May 31, 2008
    #12
  13. rjn wrote:
    > Don Lancaster <> wrote:
    >
    >> Flash glare can be taken out with our airbrush utility.

    >
    > Not if whole areas are blown out to white, as is
    > too often the case on casual eBay images.
    >


    You are grossly underestimating the power of our airbrush utility.

    --
    Many thanks,

    Don Lancaster voice phone: (928)428-4073
    Synergetics 3860 West First Street Box 809 Thatcher, AZ 85552
    rss: http://www.tinaja.com/whtnu.xml email:

    Please visit my GURU's LAIR web site at http://www.tinaja.com
     
    Don Lancaster, May 31, 2008
    #13
  14. rjn

    Lumpy Guest

    rjn wrote:
    > ...Using a
    > real WC to set WB saves a lot of work in PS.


    Well that might be SOP with NIB or OS CDs ETC. But
    relying on the WB of the WC means you're SOL since
    the end user CRT or LCD RGB varies from WNL to WOS.
    Photo looks like I'm on LSD on my PDA at LAX.

    Lumpy

    Can you do that FM disc jockey voice?
    Yes, but it doesn't translate well in ascii.
    www.LumpyVoice.net
     
    Lumpy, May 31, 2008
    #14
  15. rjn

    rjn Guest

    "Lumpy" <> wrote:

    > Photo looks like I'm on LSD on my PDA at LAX.


    With any luck, that doesn't describe my customers :)

    By the way, the mini White Card is "only" $40 @ B&H.

    I trust that the OP has learned so far that "how far to go"
    is actually step 4 in the eBay Seller Photo Enlightenment
    Course. Steps 1-3 are:
    1. Take decent images to start with.
    2. Make sure that "decent" on your PC is roughly
    the same as "decent" on typical bidder PCs.
    3. Discover what you MUST do to correct image flaws.

    4. Only then consider what you COULD do, and how much.

    --
    Regards, Bob Niland mailto:
    http://www.access-one.com/rjn email4rjn AT yahoo DOT com
    NOT speaking for any employer, client or Internet Service Provider.
     
    rjn, May 31, 2008
    #15
  16. rjn

    Lumpy Guest

    rjn wrote:
    > > > ...Using a
    > > > real WC to set WB saves a lot of work in PS.


    Lumpy:> > Well that might be SOP with NIB or OS CDs ETC. But
    > > relying on the WB of the WC means you're SOL since
    > > the end user CRT or LCD RGB varies from WNL to WOS.
    > > Photo looks like I'm on LSD on my PDA at LAX.


    Allen:
    > Is this a new record for TLAs?


    No. Pretty SNAFU, IMO.


    Lumpy

    You were on CHiPs? Did you wear those sexy
    tight pants and high boots like Erik Estrada?
    No. Swimtrunks.
    www.LumpyMusic.net
     
    Lumpy, May 31, 2008
    #16
  17. rjn

    clams_casino Guest

    Allen wrote:

    >>
    >>

    > Is this a new record for TLAs?
    >


    I think it's been on the charts for several weeks.
     
    clams_casino, May 31, 2008
    #17
  18. Allen wrote:
    > Lumpy wrote:
    >> rjn wrote:
    >>> ...Using a
    >>> real WC to set WB saves a lot of work in PS.

    >>
    >> Well that might be SOP with NIB or OS CDs ETC. But
    >> relying on the WB of the WC means you're SOL since
    >> the end user CRT or LCD RGB varies from WNL to WOS.
    >> Photo looks like I'm on LSD on my PDA at LAX.
    >>
    >> Lumpy
    >>

    > Is this a new record for TLAs?
    > Allen

    LSMFT

    --
    Many thanks,

    Don Lancaster voice phone: (928)428-4073
    Synergetics 3860 West First Street Box 809 Thatcher, AZ 85552
    rss: http://www.tinaja.com/whtnu.xml email:

    Please visit my GURU's LAIR web site at http://www.tinaja.com
     
    Don Lancaster, May 31, 2008
    #18
  19. rjn

    Moi Moi Guest

    In article <>, says...

    > Flash glare can be taken out with our airbrush utility.
    > White balance is easily corrected with ImageView32.
    >
    > http://www.tinaja.com/glib/postproc.pdf


    JFYI, Don... all tinaja DOWN 4:25 eastern.

    And yep, your tinaja hosted images not showing on your eBay
    listings...only the eBay-stored thumbs.

    MM
     
    Moi Moi, May 31, 2008
    #19
  20. rjn

    rjn Guest

    Moi Moi <> wrote:

    > JFYI, Don... all tinaja DOWN 4:25 eastern.
    > And yep, your tinaja hosted images not showing on your eBay
    > listings...only the eBay-stored thumbs.


    This is the main concern with hosting your own images
    (or just hosting them off-eBay). Nonetheless, it is still
    worth doing, and accepting this risk. If you are a small
    seller, your ISP may give you tens of megabytes of
    web/ftp space just for asking.

    Not only does eBay charge you for any reasonable
    number of images, they are constantly churning how
    they manage (read mangle) them, and never document
    the technical details, so you must test and document
    to figure out how to submit with minimum damage on
    search/browse/display/enlarge.

    "Basic Uploader uploads pictures at their full size and
    standardizes them ..."
    "When you use eBay Picture Hosting, you can choose
    to add these additional options for a small fee..."
    Make that: "additional [surcharge] fee".

    On eBay, being image-ignorant can be expensive,
    and even more expensive if you let eBay "help".

    --
    Regards, Bob Niland mailto:
    http://www.access-one.com/rjn email4rjn AT yahoo DOT com
    NOT speaking for any employer, client or Internet Service Provider.
     
    rjn, May 31, 2008
    #20
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