“Again, VK ate the quality of the photos,” you definitely heard this phrase at least once. Or maybe even spoken. And you have probably been in a situation where the pictures after printing are not similar to those that you processed on a computer. Can VK cut the quality, how not to let it do it, what to do so that the photo after printing looks the way it should — we understand the intricacies and debunk the myths in this article.
So, you shot a beautiful sunset, came home, developed RAW, assembled a panorama, finalized it in Photoshop, and your photo looks like what you saw with your own eyes. And you want this picture to look exactly the same on social networks and on a printed postcard.
Photo size for publication in social networks and on sites on the Internet
Adjusting the color for posting photos on social networks and on sites on the Internet
What to print photos on, how to choose a printing house
Sharpening for photo printing
First and foremost, don’t post full size images online. There is a myth that if you reduce the picture, it will deteriorate greatly, and the audience will not be able to appreciate it.
But the problem is that even if you shoot with a good high-resolution camera and get 40–50 megapixel frames, they will be viewed on a monitor or on a phone with a much lower resolution. Most modern monitors and smartphone screens have a resolution of 2K. This means that a picture of about 2000 pixels on the long side will look good on this screen (the resolution of such a screen is about 2 megapixels). More expensive and advanced models have a resolution of 4K, but this is only 6–8 megapixels and, accordingly, can show pictures in all details up to 4000 pixels along the long side.
And it’s not always possible to see a photo in full screen — for example, this is how the VKontakte feed looks like on a 24-inch monitor:
You can view the size of a snapshot before adding it to social networks using a standard Windows browser.
Therefore, the photo for publication in social networks should be reduced. As a rule, all social networks and portfolio sites publish photo requirements. Here is a list of the most popular:
- VK — 2560 x 2160
- Odnoklassniki — 1680 x 1680
- Tumblr — 500 x 750
- Youtube channel cover — 2560 x 1440
- Pinterest — 800 x 1200
- MyWed — 1200 x 800
You should not treat these figures as requirements for the minimum image size. As a rule, we are talking about the maximum size of accepted photos. Moreover, some sites (the same VK, for example) independently reduce pictures to the required size.
If you don’t want to waste time on reducing and trust automatics, just attach photos of any size to the post, and VK will reduce them to 2560 pixels on the long side. True, this does not always work — if your picture is very large and its width + height exceeds 14000 pixels, the social network will simply refuse to load it and give an error.
VK and other social networks that are able to reduce photos themselves do not always do it well. Sharpness may drop, or, on the contrary, excessive sharpness may appear, noise may increase. Most of the time it’s not noticeable, but if you like to be in control and notice details, you can downsize your shots using Adobe Photoshop.
Let’s use the command Image — Image size. We set the size for social networks to 2000 pixels, the way to reduce it is either Automaticor Bicubic Sharper with a decrease.
After reducing, it is worth further sharpening. To do this, make a copy of the layer (Ctrl+J), and apply a filter to it Smart Sharpen / Smart sharpness (Filter / Filter ‑Sharpen / Sharpening — Smart Sharpen / “Smart” sharpness) with these settings:
If the photo after the filter seems too sharp, you can reduce the opacity of the top layer to 40–70%.
VKontakte also allows you to attach a photo to a post as a file. In this case, it is attached in its original quality and size. But looking at such pictures is inconvenient — they open one at a time, there is no usual ability to flip through photos. If the photo is large and the internet is slow, it may take a couple of minutes.
The most important thing to know about color when publishing pictures on the Internet is that browsers use the sRGB color space. It was specially designed to make images look more or less the same on an expensive monitor of a photographer or designer, and on an old laptop, and on a mobile phone.
And your photos may exist in a different color space. It depends on the save settings in graphic editors, but most often this is the Adobe RGB space.
If you upload a photo in Adobe RGB to the Internet, the browser will not recognize it, and will decide that this is its usual sRGB, and the colors may be distorted. We uploaded the same photo in AdobeRGB to VK and to a popular website builder and looked at the result.
So, before posting a photo on a social network, sending it to a friend in a messenger or posting it on a website, it must be converted to sRGB. The easiest way to do this is to use Adobe Photoshop.
We make sure that the checkbox “Convert to sRGB / Convert to sRGB” is checked, select the file format and click Save.
If you prefer to shoot directly in JPEG and use the pictures directly from the camera, without additional processing, make sure that it shoots in sRGB (if your camera does not have such a setting, don’t worry, it means that it can only shoot in sRGB and nothing else to configure no need).
Now let’s talk about printing. For most tasks, a photo saved in the same sRGB color space is enough for us. It can be printed on a home printer or taken to a photo center that prints photos — modern printing devices will make the photo look good.
For home printing, you should choose an inkjet printer that can print on special photo paper — such prints allow you to convey all the shades and details of your photo with the highest quality.
But printing at home is not always profitable. If you rarely print, then it makes no sense to buy a printer for yourself — after 2–3 weeks of inactivity, the ink in the print head will dry out, and the printer will need an expensive cleaning or even replacement of the head. And inexpensive home printers are limited in paper size, they can not print photos larger than A4. If you want to decorate the wall with a photo measuring one and a half meters, you have to go to the printing house.
The main disadvantage of a printing house is that it can end up as not very competent people who are poorly versed in printing, and equipment that is not the most suitable for printing photographs (especially if it is a small copy center with budget equipment and employees change every month).
How to understand that the employee does not understand what it is about, and it is better to choose another printing house:
- You are immediately told that the resolution of the photo must be strictly at least 300 DPI (dots per inch). There is a myth about resolution: many people have heard that a photo for printing must have a resolution of 300 dots (pixels) per inch. The fact is that this norm was developed for printed materials viewed from a short distance — magazines, postcards, books.
If our photo hangs on the wall, and it will be viewed from several meters, it can be safely made twice as large and printed 100x60 cm in size — no one will notice the loss of quality if they don’t bury their nose in the print. In short, 300 DPI is more of a recommendation to make it more beautiful, but not a strict requirement.
- You are told that print files must be converted to the CMYK color space. If you are offered this, then this is not the printing house you should contact. CMYK prints large books, magazines and other large print runs. If you are offered to work with CMYK, most likely the print shop simply does not have a photo printer and your photo will be sent to a laser digital printing machine — in fact, a large and expensive laser printer. It is capable of quickly printing dozens and hundreds of prints, but is not well suited for high-quality photo printing.
The printed image may not look as sharp as the original image on the screen. Therefore, before sending a photo to print, you can add sharpness to it.
The easiest way to do this is with the Smart Sharpen filter. For a photo with a resolution of 16–30 megapixels, the value of Amount / Effect can be set to 100, and the radius can be selected within 0.8–1.5 pixels. The photo should visually become sharper, but without artifacts and halos.
Ready. We save the photo and send it to be printed.