Photo Editing

by Joanne Basile

After investing much time and energy on your cards and scrapbook pages, make sure all of your thoughtfulness and attention to detail shine through with these photography tips courtesy of the MFT Design Team.

Supplies

  • Camera

  • 12" x 12" cardstock, white or kraft

  • Photo editing program

Step-by-Step

  1. Step 1

    Lighting

    Wherever possible, use natural light for your photos. Using your flash can create an undesirable yellow cast in your photos. Disable your flash by looking for a button or icon similar to the one shown in the picture.

  2. Step 2

    Setup

    Various areas of your home will offer the best possible lighting at different periods during the day, so explore your own home to find what works best for you.

    A neutral background is recommended for your project photography. After all, you don’t want to detract from your beautiful card, project, or page. Start by having both white and kraft 12x12 cardstock on hand for this purpose.

    In general you will use the white cardstock. It helps to reflect light and can also be used for color correction assistance in Photoshop Elements. We will discuss photo-editing in more detail later.

    Use the kraft cardstock for projects that are mostly white or off-white. Very light cards look best with a little contrast behind them.

    Line your photo box with 12x12 papers as illustrated.

  3. If you don’t have a photo box, you can easily make one with a cardboard box or by adding a cardboard backer to one of your 12x12 papers so it will stand up vertically. If necessary, you can place a coffee mug behind the cardboard sheet to hold it in place.


  4. Step 3

    Taking the Photo

    You can use just about any camera to photograph your projects. Here are a few tips for actually taking the photo:

    • Enable the macro setting on your camera. If you can't easily identify it, look for an icon shaped like a flower. This will help capture the finer details of your project as is it designed for close-up photography.
    • Take lots of photos including detail shots of important features like embellishments or additional layers. You’ve spent a ton of time building your masterpiece and you want to allow all the details to shine through.
    • Rotate your card to see where the light looks best. Take pictures from different vantage points and choose the one you like best during the editing process.



  5. • Change your angle. Sometimes one element blocks another in the photograph. For example the card in this photo needed to be photographed from the right hand side, or the dimensional flowers blocked the sentiment

  6. Step 4

    Photo-Editing

    It is during the editing process you'll be able to fine-tune your photo to reflect all of the detail in your card.

    This tutorial features Photoshop Elements as the photo-editing software. It offers many adjustments that can be made with relative ease.

    Here is a photo of the card before editing.

    Take the following steps to adjust your photo:
    • Crop 

    • Brighten

    • Adjust white balance

    • Resize 

    • Optimize for web use


    On occasion you'll need to go back to the drawing board if you notice something that seems "off" during editing. For example, you could find a dimensional backing stuck on the card front, a layer of cardstock or stamped area that is crooked, or possibly a frayed ribbon that needs to be re-trimmed. It’s worth taking a moment to fix the mistake you’ve discovered, and then take another set of pictures.

    Here is how you'll make adjustments so that your photo accurately represents your finished card:

  7. Step 5

    Select Enhance>Adjust Lighting>Levels from the menu.

  8. Step 6

    A dialog box will pop up that contains the Input and Output Levels. Use your mouse to click and drag the small white arrow under Input Levels on the right-hand side of the dialog box toward the left. Drag until the small white arrow on the right meets the area where the black "mountain" begins to point upward. This will brighten the background of your card.

  9. Step 7

    Make another quick adjustment by selecting Enhance>Adjust Color Curves. This opens a dialog box that includes a before and after image. Select Increase Midtones and then click OK to approve the change.

  10. Step 8

    You’ll want to resize your photo to keep them manageable for online galleries and speedy blog uploads. Here’s how:

    Select Image>Resize>Image Size and a small dialog box will appear.

  11. Step 9

    In the image size dialog box, type in 600 for the width measured in pixels. If the Constrain Proportions box is checked, your program will keep your project in proportion by automatically configuring the height. Click OK to save the changes

  12. Step 10

    The last step is to optimize your file for the web.

    Select File>Save for Web. This will keep your project crisp on computer screens. A dialog box will appear with a before and after photo.

    On the right-hand side, select Custom and a small box will appear. Select JPEG High and you will notice an immediate improvement in photo clarity. Select OK to approve the change and you’ll be asked where to save your finished file.

  13. Step 11

    Here is the fully-edited file, ready for use in the Splitcoaststampers Gallery.

Video!

Questions and Comments

We'd love to get your feedback or questions. Leave your comment below.

At last! I have been wanting to find some straight forward, encompassing instructions on photographing cards. Step by step with visuals is the easiest way for me to learn, this is exactly what I was looking for! Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and bringing it "down" wink to my level!!
Anne H.  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 7:23 AM
What a helpful tutorial! I currently use GIMP to edit my photos and would love to know what settings are best for card photos using this free option (PSE is REALLY pricey!).
Wanda Cullen  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 7:29 AM
Great tutorial Joanne, thank you so much for doing this, now I can greatly improve my photos for my blog. I always just cropped & used the automatic enhance on my photoshop.
Now I can do so much more.
Rita  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 7:30 AM
Excellent tutorial, Jo! So many wonderful tips!!!
Cindy Lawrence  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 7:58 AM
Great tutorial. I use an OttLite to make the surrounding light "natural". A small OtLite is invaluable and can be purchased on sale most of the time. A good investment. The background tips were for me - I now use a blank wall!!! Thanks for all the tips . . .
Sarah Wold  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 8:19 AM
Thank you!!! I just used your tutorial to practice with and loved how the photos turned out!!!
Sandee Shanabrough  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 9:29 AM
I just used the tips found in this tutorial..The photo looks GREAT! and the steps are so easy! NO MORE DARK photos:)
Laura Head  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 9:54 AM
Thank you for this easy to follow tutorial!!
Elizabeth Ortiz  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 11:13 AM
Joanne, I agree...you rock! I use GIMP for my photo editing, and your tips helped me bunches with getting rid of the grayish background...perfection! And I learned a few other things, even though I've been using GIMP for quite a while and do a fair amount of editing and creating of other graphics. Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! Excellent tutorial!!
CherylQuilts  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 11:35 AM
P. S. GIMP is free, and there are loads of tip on the web (Google is our friend!) about using it. It is a dream and is used by many professional photographers and graphic artists. FREE! Try it for the PC and for Mac. And, I too have an Ottlite that works like a charm! Thanks again!
CherylQuilts  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 11:37 AM
Fantastic tips. Thank you so much for sharing!
Dannie Graves  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 11:56 AM
Excellent tutorial! One additional step I do is adding my watermark. This is a PNG file I have created and saved. I add a layer in PSE with it, adjust opacity sometimes and then save the whole thing as JPG to flatten layers. I do this before optimizing for the web
Chaitali Narla  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 12:03 PM
FANTASTIC! I have so needed this! Like others, I've learned much through trial and error, but thanks for the PSE editing tips! Can I ask for a part 2 please? What about tips for using ribbon or glass beads like I see really good phtographers do. And what about when you don't have natural light? My Ott light is small and doesn't seem to do the trick. And sometimes I can't control the sunshine and glare. Great post, just more info please!!!!
Bernadet Rodakowski  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 12:31 PM
Thanks so much for showing us these tips. I can really use this information. Good to know how to take great pictures of projects and other things.
Alberta Blair  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 1:42 PM
Bravo on the great video tutorial! I loved your DIY light box too.
Susie Lessard  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 2:16 PM
Thank you so much.
Dawn Haylock  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 3:00 PM
Very well written and thorough. Thanks, I learned a lot!
Linda Emery  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 7:26 PM
thank you! i do some of these things already, and i learned a few new critical steps. thank you!!
Lela Meinke  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 7:42 PM
What a fantastic tutorial. Just what I needed to help improve my project pics. I was just given a light box (including lights) but needed some additional help on the photo editing. Thanks so much!! I've already tried it out and loved the results.
Stephanie Wright  |  Wed Feb 13, 2013 at 9:39 PM
Thank you so much for this help. I am so tecky challenged. So sweet of you to take your time to do this...much appreciated..ty again..:0)
wanda hargreaves  |  Thu Feb 14, 2013 at 10:32 AM

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