Techniques and tools for fixing up your photos
after they've been taken
more to image preparation than simple crops and rotations. When
presentation really matters, you may want to take a few extra minutes
to make your auction photos look perfect.
Be careful not to doctor the photo so much that it misrepresents the
item being sold. Try to strike a balance between making your photos
look professional and setting a reasonable expectation with your
bidders; see for details.
The following tools are available in most of the more capable
but their names and usage may vary slightly:
- Clone Tool
Use the clone tool to copy one part of an image to another part, useful for removing dust and unwanted reflections.
Start by choosing an area to clone. In Photoshop, click while holding
the Alt key. In Paint Shop Pro, click while holding Shift. Then,
start drawing on a different part of the image. The horizontal and
vertical distance will be held constant, so if you move a half-inch
to the left, you'll be cloning the area a half-inch to the left of the spot you originally selected. Figure 5-6 shows an image doctored with the clone tool.
Figure 5-6. Use the clone tool to touch up small areas of your images; here, the table edge and a few scratches were removed with cloning
- Skew, Distort, and Perspective Tools
Photoshop supports a variety of linear distortion tools, useful for
fine-tuning the perspective of your item. Start by selecting a
portion of your image (or the entire image), and then go to Edit
→ Transform → Perspective. Drag any of the eight
handles with your mouse to distort the selection, and click any tool
in the toolbox to commit (or reject) the change. The
Skew and Distort tools work the same
way, but the distortions they permit vary slightly.
- Drop Shadows
Although somewhat old-school, drop shadows are handy for
making small photos stand out, especially thumbnails (see [Hack #60]). Although Photoshop has a feature
to automatically add a drop shadow to any layer, here is a more
general procedure that will work in any image editor:
Start by floating the layer containing your image. Press Ctrl-A to
select all, Ctrl-X to cut, and Ctrl-V to paste the image into a new
Enlarge the canvas of your image slightly, enough to accommodate the
shadow; say, 20 pixels on the right side and bottom.
Duplicate the layer by going to Layer → Duplicate Layer, and
then move the lower layer down and to the right slightly.
Go to Image → Adjustments → Brightness/Contrast,
and turn both the brightness and contrast all the way down. The lower
layer will turn completely black.
Finally, perform a Gaussian blur (Filter → Blur →
Gaussian Blur) on the lower layer; adjust the radius to achieve the
- Auto Levels
Most image editors allow you to adjust the individual levels of red,
green, and blue, as well as the brightness and contrast of an image.
If all you want to do is make the image look more balanced, you can
let your image editor do all the work by using the Auto Levels tool
(in Photoshop, go to Image → Adjustments → Auto
Levels or press Shift-Ctrl-L). It's nothing more
than a mathematical operation so it's not always
perfect, but most of the time it does a pretty good job.
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