Sharing On Social Media, Vibrant Sunset Colors, and Choosing a Laptop Screen

In Master Photography Roundtable by Jeff Harmon6 Comments

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.

  1. It doesn’t matter the pixel dimensions you use when you export your images, it will be compressed.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.

Lightroom Classic export settings to use the sRGB color space and embed the sRGB profile.
Photoshop Export As settings for converting the JPEG to sRGB and embed the sRGB color profile



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.)”

A fantastic sunset image by Frank Ghallager but he wanted more vibrant colors.

What a beautiful image Frank has created!  I offered two suggestions to Frank to give a try.

Double Process

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 in Lightroom Classic is often overlooked or not known to photographers as a great way to enhance colors in an image!

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.

Doodads

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!

Reminders

Comments

  1. Hi Jeff,
    very good tips. But I wouldn’t recommend to buy any Dell product. If you want a company who stands behind its products, it’s not Dell. For many years I thought going with Dell is the best as you would get service everywhere, even worldwide. That’s not true, or not true anymore. Before getting service abroad you have to transfer your product first, which takes a few days before you can start a warranty claim. If you are out of warranty, it doesn’t matter if you are domestic or abroad they wont help you. Even tho its just a one year hadrware warranty, they won’t even help you with other isuse, like the crappy Dell software which comes with the computer. I mean really actually software programmed either by Dell or for Dell. Their update utility wanted me to upgrade my BIOS every day with the same version which is already installed, but of course it thought its newer. Same with a bunch of other drivers. Sometimes even downgrading me from newer drivers. Then their software stops working and even reinstalling doesnt help, because there is somewhere a file or a registry entry that needs to be deleted. Again, Dell can’t programm software very well. It’s almost impossible to get someone on the phone and if you do, the will tell you to restart your computer, un- and reinstall the software you having issues with and if this doesnt solve it, they tell you to contact Microsoft. Yes they do that even for their own poorly programmed software. I bought for many years Alienware laptops for photoediting, as they are just more powerful and cost a ton of money. But no support their either. It’s better to by an ASUS, Lenovo or Acer. They are all better brands. I had very good experience with Asus in the past. Just saying. Dell is a bad move. My next PC won’t be from Dell or their affiliates anymore. There are better companies outthere with lifetime support. Dell’s support is only good for as long as you have warranty after that they want you to buy a new warranty.

    1. Author

      @Peter,

      Sorry to hear you had issues with your Dell machine. However, I hear this same kind of issue with all of the brands. Seems to be luck of the draw for many. I have also had many give me raving feedback about just how much they loved the Dell they bought.

      The point of the post was to provide technical specifications photographers should look for. Dell XPS machines have those specs. So do others. Photographers can choose whichever brand they prefer, I just wanted to arm them with the technical specifications to look for.

      Best of luck.

  2. Hi Jeff,

    Thanks for the great info and tips for social media optimisations. I have a question about joining the Facebook group you mention in the episode. Is it possible to join the group as my (photography) page rather than main personal profile? I don’t see the normal profile selection box when I tap join?

    Many thanks,

    Alex.

    1. Author

      @Alex,

      Not too sure. Give it a try and I will look out for the join request. As long as you answer the question to join, I don’t care if it is a page or a person.

  3. I’ve listened to your podcasts for about 2 years now. Today I visited your website (1st time) and clicked on show notes. OMG – My memory is fading but THANK YOU for those notes!

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