Posts tagged ‘Photo’

January 17, 2012

Cropping Photos to Improve the Visual Effect

Cropping is a useful tool for photo improvement. Though it sounds like an easy trick, cropping is more art than science and you need an eye for it. Still there are some general guidelines that can help you improve the visual effect of your photos.

Focus in!

Crop to bring the attention to the main object or person. In a portrait, the person’s eyes are the focal point. If the person is looking sideways, make sure to allow ‘space’ for her to look into or include enough of the object so the viewer knows what the the person is looking at. Otherwise the viewer will wonder what is missing.

Cropping also lets you remove the parts of the picture that didn’t turn well, let’s say because of awkward posing like in the example below.

Don’t amputate!

Cropping off people’s limbs at joints makes them look like amputees. Despite a very popular concern, it’s okay to crop part of the head if it’s a close portrait, as it will bring more attention to the eyes.  Cutting between the joints is alright as long as it’s still possible for the mind’s eye to fill in the blanks to complete a person’s torso or limb.

An example of bad cropping where the hand cut off at the wrist appears detached. The only way to fix this effect is to re-crop the photo to a close portrait.

Combine tilting with cropping!

In some situations tilting can save the day when you realize the only photo that you like is still bad.

Remove distractions!

Remove the view-spoilers, parts of unidentifiable objects and things that distracts from the story the image is telling.

Someone's back was a view-spoiler in otherwise a nice portrait. The photo allowed for easy cropping that brought the new balance to the composition by seemingly adding to the empty space in the direction of the person' glance.

Watch the ‘negative space’!

This is the space around the central object. Cropping too tightly will make the photo look awkward.

Cropping Contextual Images

The images surrounding the person or the object in the center of attention serve as the context and create the picture story and establish the mood. It becomes a critical compositional component that need to be cropped to have a balanced visual effect. To reach the optimal result, it is recommended to follow the Rule of Thirds.

The Rule of Thirds: Divide the frame into thirds horizontally and vertically. The points where those lines intersect are good starting points to place the main subject. Essentially the primary subject is slightly off center.

In the original photo the person is put squarely in the middle and the background is cropped too tight leaving no breathing space above and below the figure. By cropping right below the hand (not to lose the gesture) and reducing the space on the left we re-balance the composition to bring it it in line with the Rule-of-Thirds.

You might find it impossible to follow all these rules as they start to clash when your photo has more than one problem. You would need to compromise or send it to us at PhotoHand and we’ll apply more advanced techniques to perfect your mementos.

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You might also want to read:
Cropping Photos to Match Printing Standards
Other Point-and-Click Tips

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November 28, 2011

PhotoHand Introduces Photo Gifts with Modern Aesthetics in Mind

Just in time for the holiday season, PhotoHand unveils PhotoHand Gifts website to offer gift shoppers custom-designed photobooks, multi-image prints, framed photos, standouts Christmas decorations, photo mugs and puzzles while aiming to further expand into other gift types.

Gifts that are uniquely personalized with photos are perfect for Christmas, birthdays, weddings and anniversaries adding a nice personal touch to the tradition. The variety of photo gifts on offer has been steadily increasing. Now it’s the time to step up the quality of these keepsakes that is usually impaired by the flaws of the original photo image.

PhotoHand – a leading online specialist in photo fixing and design – comes to the rescue by putting the brains before the brawn and perfecting the image before it goes in photo gift production. Properly edited and enhanced, bland images turn into editorial-style photography that transforms any gift item into a precious memento.

Artful application of photo retouching and graphic design makes all the difference between stylish and cheesy and brings photo gifts in line with the modern aesthetics.

July 8, 2011

Point-and-Click Tips: Taking the Red Eye Glow Out Of the Picture

Red eyes (red glow in pupils) in photos is a common phenomenon when taking pictures of people or animals using a flash.


Some cameras support a “red eye reduction” mode.  In that mode the camera fires the flash a few times before taking the photo. Although this helps reducing the red-eye effect, it can also result in photos of people with their eyes closed (as they blink when blinded by the pre-flash).

There are a few things that you can do to prevent red-eyes.

1. Take the pictures with sufficient light in the environment so that your subjects’ pupils decrease in size.
2. Tell them to look to the side of your camera – not straight at the camera.
3. Have someone divert babies or pets’ attention so that they look away from the camera.

Some cameras include built-in image processing software that automatically removes red-eye from the photos, or you can use Picasa or other online photo editing software. Make sure that the software only effects the eye area and doesn’t change the color of other elements in the picture that happen to have the tint typical of the red eye effect. Software trips in such cases as it works on formulas and doesn’t exercise common sense.

Another option is having it done by professional photo retouchers for as low as $3.50, especially in case you have captured a close portrait in a dark environment and now the whole eye retina is glowing red.

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June 13, 2011

New Tennessee Law Bans Posting Images That Cause Emotional Distress

The new Tennessee law that bans posting images that cause emotional distress has caused a lot of stir in the media. Specifically, it outlaws posting photos on the web that cause “emotional distress” to someone and have no “legitimate purpose.” The punishment amounts to a year in prison and nearly $2,500 in fines. It is stated that there needs to be “malicious intent,” so dimwits with poor judgement can be off the hook, but the law nails down the persons who “reasonably should know” that the actions would “frighten, intimidate or cause emotional distress.”

Unfortunately the wording of the law motivated by good intentions is too broad not to get into a conflict with the Freedom of Speech. For starters, it doesn’t require that the picture be of the “victim,” only that it be distressing to the “victim.” This leaves a lot of room for interpretation.

With all the criticism the law has received, we should appreciate the attempt of the Tennessee law-makers at curbing the actions of bullies and bitter jerks who, thanks to the Internet, now enjoy the access to worldwide audiences.

When the news came, we remembered a rather creepy call to our studio asking if we could place a new face on a totally naked body in another photo. We do photo montage but our company policy precludes us from handling images that feature frontal nudity and we quickly turned down the order. The caller lamented that no studio would take his order. We were glad to hear that though most probably the guy eventually found someone to do the job.

Women, and we know this as our staff and clients are primarily female, are very sensitive about their photos and often feel like executing their friends for posting lousy photos of them on Facebook – not the malicious ones but just bad photos taken from an unfavorable angle at the wrong moment. Now if these are really embarrassing shots taken by creeps for whom propriety and civility have no value, we seriously want them to be brought to court.

So, no matter how imperfect the Tennessee Law is in defining the “emotional distress”, it’s a good start for a movement to protect the dignity of ordinary persons as well as celebrities.

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January 9, 2011

How-To – Rocking Your Facebook Profile

This is a funny how-to video on taking better pictures of yourself if you want a cool Facebook profile. Our professional advice: taking pictures of yourself is always a bad idea unless you are using a timer. For better results, ask a friend to take pictures of you. You need an immediate feedback on your attempted cool posing.

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December 12, 2010

Photo Retouching: Going Mainstream

Photo retouching, a.k.a. photo editing or airbrushing, is as old as photography itself. But only with the advent of the digital revolution that overturned a lot of concepts in the Photography industry since the beginning of this century, photo retouching became commonplace, extending to family photography – professionally taken as well as amateur shots.

Photo retouching services became affordable to any budget ($3.50/photo at PhotoHand.com) and easily accessible over the web. You can order it 24/7 just like you order books or clothes.

Just decide what you don’t like about the photo, check the pricing schedule and go to the order form to upload your shots and type in your instructions. You will get your images back in the same resolution without any marks claiming the copyright over your photos.

Photo retouching (“photoshopping”) does not mean altering the photos completely, rather it simply modifies the images and removes the flaws originating from technical and non-technical faults.

Besides the lighting that you normally don’t have control of outside the studio, there are a lot of mishaps that can ruin the view: exit signs spoil the mood in the wedding pictures and so do slight wardrobe malfunctions like skin overflowing the edge of a sleeveless wedding dress (happens even to the skinniest brides), twisted tense smiles resulting from prolonged posing, electrified hairs crossing faces… There is no reason now to put up with these imperfections that spoil otherwise a perfect memento.

Of course, it takes skill, experience and artistic perspective to improve and sometimes rescue the photo without affecting the originality of the image. Luckily, now the magazine-quality photo editing services are available to every mom, newlywed, serial dater, actor, musician, aspiring model, pageant contestant, starting out fashion designer, beauty professional, life coach… everyone.

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November 16, 2010

A New Twist on the Season’s Greetings Tradition from PhotoHand.com

Tired of the same cookie-cutter greeting cards? Looking for new gift ideas? This holiday season check out the new generation of highly personalized greeting card design launched by PhotoHand! There are no two cards alike – PhotoHand takes your favorite photo and integrates it with a unique graphic design to create a montage. As an option, have your child’s photo combined with the photo of her drawing as the background.

Orders can be placed online and this will cost you only $11.95 while you get a very special keepsake unlike the mundane prefabricated options offered by other companies. PhotoHand can also facilitate printing at a reasonable cost for you if you don’t have a favorite printer.

PhotoHand photo card offering extends to personal events, like birthdays, bachelorette parties, bar mitzvahs, baby showers… You can order a creative collage of several photos at $5.95 per image. Such gifts are fun, original and as personable as they get.

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May 13, 2009

Primp Up Your Indie Image On a Budget

Indie is trendy. If you hear this for the first time, you’ve been out of touch for quite a while and should hurry to Etsy.com to catch up. Whether it’s shoes, clothes, cosmetics, jewelry, bags, gift items, perfume… indie companies are guaranteed to provide innovative offbeat products that will spice up your image.

Innovation is the key to indie success as small companies are faster on their feet than large brands. They also tend to be greener, organic and more conscious of waste.

PhotoHand is a strong supporter of indies and we have a lot of them among our clients. Indies do not have the promotion budgets of big brands but they must have the big brand image quality to sell.

Indie companies on a budget (and most of them are) do not have the resources to hire professional photographers at $100-150/hr to shoot their new products, especially as they introduce one-two new products at a time. Instead they buy professional or semi-professional photo cameras that are becoming cheaper and more powerful and take promotional photos at their make-shift corner studios.

This is a prudent approaching taking into account that even professionally shot photos still need to be photoshopped to bring out the best in the image.

A perfume bottle shot in a make-shift setup with a non-professional camera was color-corrected and photo-retouched by PhotoHand professionals. Complex level - $11.95/photo

A perfume bottle shot in a make-shift setup with a non-professional camera was color-corrected and photo-retouched by PhotoHand professionals. Complex level - $11.95/photo

PhotoHand has been assisting indie companies with this task for quite a while and we keep getting the same question from our clients: How to set up the photo shoot for the best results.

We did some research, consulted several photographers and came up with the basic set of rules that will set you on the right track.

How to set up lighting for a home photo shoot?

Lighting is of paramount importance in photography. Photographing with natural light will deliver natural colors but only if you shoot on an overcast day that is still bright. You can wait for such a day or imitate these conditions by using easily available elements:

1) A spotlight lamp with a white light bulb. A yellow light bulb will tint the original color of the product;
2) Frosted paper that will be used as a screen to diffuse the light shining on the product and this way prevent the “hot spots” in the photo;
3) A flowing background, preferably stiff paper that won’t crinkle;
4) A sheet of white paper to reflect the diffused light from the spotlight lamp and partially illuminate the other side or the front of the product. This is necessary to avoid sharp light/shade contrast (unless you want it for some artistic effect).

The following diagram shows how to arrange these items for the photoshoot setup at home.

This diagram shows how to arrange these items for the photoshoot setup at home.

How to set your camera for the product photo shoot?

No-Flash-No-GlareTurn off the Flash. Flash glare on objects is very hard to photo retouch because it means loss of digital information. A photo retoucher would have to fill up the blanks by using his/her imagination.

Macro-for-close-up

Set your camera to MACRO for the close-up view.

That’s it.  Happy shooting!  And remember, PhotoHand is always there for you to glam up your image.
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March 27, 2009

I Saw the Future of Contemporary Photography

photography-show-photo-festivalYes, I did and it looked great. That was last spring. And this year a bunch of us from the PhotoHand team – those residing in New York – will see it too. We’ll be hanging out at the New York Photo Festival to see what’s new in the Art of Photography for inspiration and to pick up a few tricks that we could use for art effects in our photo design work.

If you like Photography and if you are in the NYC area, I would recommend you to see the exhibits. If you are a Photographer, I would attend the seminars too. Below is the official announcement describing the event. You can get more info by clicking on the event title. The event calendar hasn’t been published of this date.

THE NEW YORK PHOTO FESTIVAL – 2nd Edition, May 13-17, 2009
Event Calendar>>

Following up on its successful debut in May 2008, the New York Photo Festival is pleased to announce the exhibition dates for 2009 and its Festival Curators. The inaugural event in May 2008 was a surprise hit, and it delivered on the promise of presenting the “future of contemporary photography” through the efforts of world-class curators and the selected artists. The NYPH’08 Festival Curators—Kathy Ryan, Martin Parr, Lesley A. Martin, and Tim Barber—created four stunning exhibitions focusing on the ubiquity of images in digital and daily life, sculptural tendencies in contemporary photography, ground-breaking paths in formal photographic documentation and representation, and a formal yet whimsical approach to the democratic presentation of artistic representation. The New York Photo Festival’s debut run in 2008 answered critics’ lament that the world’s capital of photography could never compile a festival of its own. It also affirmatively resolved the quandary of whether contemporary photography could ever stand on its own, apart and distinct from its historical antecedents of greatest hits and exotic depiction.

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October 13, 2008

Defining Your Image Size for Quality Printing

This is the question that we, at PhotoHand, get every day – why can’t you blow up my photo into a poster after you have retouched it. The answer is that the size of the photo is too small. To print a small poster – the size of a standard sheet of paper, your photo has to be at least 5 Megapixels in photo terms, which equals 5 Megabytes in computer terms.

A photo image is described by two parameters: “Image Size” and “Image Quality”. The image SIZE is defined by the total number of pixels – a collection of small dots. The number of pixels per square inch defines the QUALITY of the image.

If the number of pixels (the size) of the image can’t be changed after the image has been captured, the image quality is defined AFTER you have taken the photo. Image quality or resolution will be defined when you decide how many pixels (dots) should be per square inch of your photo.

More pixels/dots per square inch mean higher resolution and subsequently higher quality of print. 72 dpi (dots per inch) are perfect for the web but not for printing. Quality printing requires 300 dpi.

So, the more pixels you capture from the start, the bigger photo you will be able to print after these pixels have been squeezed into square inches by 300 in each.

Here is a sample of calculations:

Suppose you want a print sized 4 by 6 inches in photo quality.
(4in x 300dpi) x (6in x 300dpi) = 1,200 pixels x 1,800 pixels
This equals 2,160,000 pixels (roughly 2.2 Megapixels) in total which is approximately 2.2 Megabytes.

To make it easier, we put together this cheat sheet for you.


We hope we were able to help, but if you still have questions please contact us through our website www.PhotoHand.com.

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