Sharing Images On Social Media
Matthew Wells posted this question on the Master Photography Facebook Group
“I am not sure what is happening with Instagram. I have noticed that with some pictures when I start to post them, it strips out some of the editing. But only with the jpegs I have saved out of Photoshop. Lightroom exports post as edited. Strange, but I don’t know if this is a Instagram issue or a Adobe issue.”
A very helpful listener offered advice to Matthew “Use sRGB and scale the exported jpg to have the long edge 2048 pixels. This size will prevent compression on social media platforms, which can muck up your black levels and colors.”
There are three things I want to address in answering this question.
Social Media Compression
Every social media network will ALWAYS compress your images. This may have worked differently in the past where pixel dimensions or file sizes may have meant one of the social media networks would leave your image untouched, but it is not the case here in 2020.
The social media networks have to protect their bottom line by minimizing operating costs and every bit/byte of your image costs them money. The idea that a photographer can do something to avoid the compression engine when they upload to a social media network is a myth.
- It doesn’t matter the pixel dimensions you use when you export your images, it will be compressed.
- It doesn’t matter the DPI (check out DPI With Don Komarechka for more on this) you use on export your image will be compressed.
- It doesn’t matter the quality level, though I recommend 77% in Lightroom and Export As in Ps, your image will be compressed.
sRGB Color Profile
Color management is a complicated topic. We have done a lot of Master Photography episodes on the topic and I have done some Photo Taco podcast episodes on color management as well.
The only thing I am going to say about it in here is that no matter what software you are using to post-process your images, make sure you figure out how to export with the JPEG converted to the sRGB color space and embedding the sRGB profile in the image.
Matthew confirmed that when he applied those configuration settings to his exports from Photoshop the images looked much closer to the same on Instagram as they did while he was processing them.
Photoshop Web Sharpen Script
Last, before leaving this idea of sharing your images for social media, I want to mention a really incredible free tool from my friend Greg Benz that he calls the Web Sharpening Script.
It is a script that you can use to sharpen your images so that they look great on the web, including social media. I have been using the script for several months now and I love the results I get. Here is an incredibly helpful video showing how to use the script.
You can see how to use the script and download it for free (after registering for his newsletter that is also incredibly useful) at https://gregbenzphotography.com/photography-tips/how-to-sharpen-and-resize-photos-for-the-web-in-photoshop
Vibrant Sunset Colors
Long-time listener and active participant in the Facebook Group, Frank Gallagher, asked this question.
“Post processing question for the hive mind. I’m photographing a sunset and the dynamic range fits nicely into a single exposure if I expose to the right. When I do that, I can never seem to recover the colors of the sunset, especially if they were originally pastels. You’d think reducing exposure or highlights or both would work, but the colors (reds, pinks, oranges) remain faint. It’s as if by exposing to the right, the camera doesn’t record enough saturation to bring the colors back. Using saturation, vibrance and HSL sliders aren’t much help either and typically result in a fake-looking image. Using a Nikon D750, if any of you Nikon users have any tips.
In the image here, a good chunk of the sky was a rich, pastel pink with an orange tint closer to the horizon. (And who knows what Facebook will do to the colors.)”
What a beautiful image Frank has created! I offered two suggestions to Frank to give a try.
My first suggestion was to double process this image. Process it once for the foreground, getting the details and shadows just how you want them, and then process the sky and the water getting them how you want them. Then blend the two layers together in Photoshop.
As with almost any kind of processing technique, there are multiple ways to do this. You could do most of this in Lightroom Classic by processing the raw file once for the foreground, making a virtual copy of the image, and then processing the virtual copy for the sky/water. Then you select both the raw image and the virtual copy and choose Edit in Photoshop as Layers and blend them together using layer masking (luminosity masking would really help).
You could also bring the image into Photoshop as a smart object, make a copy of the smart object (New Smart Object via Copy – NOT just cloning the layer) and process the two layers using the Camera Raw Filter or whatever else you want to do. Then blend the two layers together using layer masking (again better with luminosity masking).
Lightroom Classic Calibration Panel
The other thing to try, which is much easier since you don’t have to do any layer masking, is use a panel in Lightroom Classic I think very few photographers know about. You might be thinking of the HSL panel if you are a pretty experienced user of Lightroom Classic, and the HSL panel offers some decent ways to bring out color, but I am thinking of something else.
Hidden away at the bottom of the Develop module is a panel called Calibration.
The Calibration panel offers a way to make hue and saturation adjustments in a very different way from the HSL panel. I find it does a better job of increasing color saturation without banding than the HSL panel.
Frank gave this second suggestion a try and reported back that this helped him get more out of what he wanted from the image he created.
Laptop Screen Calibration
Lastly there was a long question from Kara Alyson McMahon Holdman. It was long enough I won’t post the whole thing here, but the summary was that she was looking at buying a laptop for photo editing and was worried about being able to calibrate the screen.
This is a very valid concern as not all laptop screens are good for photo editing. Yes, all you Mac folks out there are right that all of the Mac computers do a stellar job with color management, so there isn’t a bad choice you can make there. With the PC world though, there are laptops that do not have screens good for photo editing.
Kara prefers Windows over MacOS (yes there are a lot of photographers who feel that way), but she was worried that she might have to switch to Mac in order to get a good screen. I assured her that there are Windows laptops that have great screens as well and I have been able to calibrate them so that they look identical.
After providing that answer, there were other questions being asked and I decided to do a full Photo Taco writeup on the topic. You can check out my 3,900 guide to What Photographers Should Look For In a Laptop Screen.
Canon CameraConnect App. iOS and Android. Free! I have been using this app off and on over the past couple of years with my Canon 80D camera. The 80D has built in WiFi. It isn’t incredibly easy to use, even though there is an “Easy Connect” option to connect it to your phone. Once you get through that though you can transfer images from your camera to your phone and you can control your camera.
I have used it to take self-portraits, getting focus by touching on my phone screen where I want it and then pushing the shutter button when I am posed how I want. Most recently though, and the reason I am making it my Doodad of the week this week, I used it to shoot the night sky using bulb mode!
I was out with my family in the mountains of Utah over Labor Day weekend and most of the night sky shooting wasn’t working because we are trying hard to burn down the west coast of the United States here in September of 2020 and all of that smoke made it impossible to really see stars. But I wanted to try and get a shot of some cabins with lights reflecting in a lake. I wanted a stopped down aperture and it was dark enough that meant a shutter speed well beyond the 30 seconds that camera allows.
I didn’t have my shutter release cable with me, not sure where that went as it is usually in my bag, but I wondered if I could do bulb mode with the Canon CameraConnect app. Sure enough it worked flawlessly. With the mode dial set to B I pressed the shutter button on my phone using the app and a timer started showing me the length of the exposure. I easily got 2, 3, and 5 minute exposures to play with. So much fun!
- masterphotographypodcast.com is the home for the show, you will want to go there and check it out
- Facebook group is Master Photography Podcast, can search for it on Facebook or you can go to masterphotographypodcast.com and there are links there.
- Instagram account for the show is @masterphotographypodcast
- Find Jeff’s work at https://www.jsharmonphotos.com. Check out his Photo Taco podcast over at https://phototacopodcast.com where you can search all kinds of topics and find shows discussing the details. He is on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/harmon.jeff, Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/harmonjeff/ (@harmonjeff), and Twitter: https://twitter.com/harmon_jeff (@harmon_jeff)