Photo Update: Things to do before submitting photos.

Adam, Lloyd and I noticed (as you have) that photos have been muddy in the print edition. Let’s follow Adam’s advice:

1) Images are not being sized appropriately.  The Oozeball photo on the front page, for example, is sized at 31 inches wide.  When it was resized down to four columns wide, that made the effective resolution 529 ppi, which is overkill even for something like National Geographic.  A newspaper press only resolves about 170 ppi at the most, so this means that any sharpening applied to the full-size image will be effectively
ignored because you’re sharpening at a level too fine to be printed.

To make a sharp image, be sure to size it in Photoshop to roughly the same size it will appear in print (it is okay to make it roughly one column wider to give the page designers a little freedom), then adjust the
resolution to 170 ppi. After resizing, go to Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen and use values of about 80% and 1 pixel.  That exaggerated amount of sharpening will allow the image to pop on newsprint.

Resizing also saves disk space.  The full size original image was 52 megabytes; once I resized it to 170 ppi it dropped to only 3.5 MB.


2) A number of photos appeared flat and gray because the camera had metered on a bright spot in the background.  To fix this, select the foreground (quick select lasso with some feather is easiest) and brighten up the foreground.  It is not unethical to modify a photo in this manner if you are correcting an error made by the camera — you can edit it for proper reproduction as long as it reflects how the scene
actually appeared.

Adam attached a before-and-after JPEG of approximately how the Bid Day photo on page 3 should’ve looked. Image

Also, in general, remember to wash out the midtones a little bit since they will darken up on newsprint. 

Refer to the guide Adam distributed at the beginning of the semester or see him any specific questions.


2 thoughts on “Photo Update: Things to do before submitting photos.

  1. The tones on the photo in your second point definitely needed to be lightened, no doubt.

    I will say that resizing photographs for print is very difficult for photographers that are turning in work a week, or even as little as 2-3 days before publication. Should this be a responsibility for the photo editor? Design?

    While I agree that no photograph would ever run at 31 inches (I WISH) we definitely are never sure how many columns a photo will run. Just curious how we could work on communicating and executing with that information.

    • That’s an excellent question, Michael. If photos are taken in advance, it’s the photo editor’s responsibility to resize images for print. What do you all think? More importantly, who will make sure this is done from here out?

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