Whether you are a photographer or a traditional designer, odds are that you have an online portfolio. In fact, if you don't have an online portfolio, I'm not sure how you're still in business. But that's not what I want to talk about today. Today I want to shed a little light on the practice of sharpening your images for the web. We'll start with a concise definition from Photojojo in their post about the Unsharp Mask (read that post here):
"What we think of as sharpness is actually the contrast we see between different colors. A quick transition from black to white looks sharp. A gradual transition from black to gray to white looks blurry. So when we look at the picture you just took of that sharp black & white edge, the gray pixels along the edge will make the photo look blurry.
Sharpening your picture increases the contrast along the edges where different colors meet. This tricks the eye into believing that the photo looks sharper, better, stronger."By quickly perusing Facebook, I'm willing to bet that you see victims of "crunchy" or blurry images everywhere. In fact, I've seen several websites that suffer from a lack of sharp images. I don't want to include any of those as examples for fear of embarrassing anyone, so here's a picture of an image that WAS NOT sharpened before being uploaded.
Now here's the image after we've worked some sharpening magic on it.
There's a pretty noticeable difference between these two images. If someone is considering using your services, whether you are a photographer or a designer, they're going to find you online first. You want to make a good first impression (the song Sharp Dressed Man comes to mind for some reason).
I'm not going to do a detailed tutorial on sharpening or saving images for the web, because there are tons of those out there already. My hope is that you will share this post with someone you know could benefit from doing some further research on the topic.
A few good resources (other than the mighty Google/YouTube combo) for learning about saving your images for the web are Photojojo, this post by Marc Adamus, and this video tutorial.
One quick note about images on Facebook. Facebook has its own image compression settings, and even if you check "High Quality" while uploading there is no guarantee that your images will remain sharp. I've notice the most issues when uploading bright images that contain lots of high contrast. Also, keep your watermarks fairly small and try not to draw attention to them too much, because Facebook butchers all text in images regardless of your sharpening skills.
I'm sure lots of our readers have awesome methods for sharpening, or better resources than the ones I've provided. I'm started a forum topic here on lbobi on the topic of sharpening, and we would love if you would contribute a few good links or details about your web processing. And for those of you who prefer Facebook for conversation, the lbobi Facebook page is there for you as well.