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On this page I take a photo through the various stages of fixing it up for the internet.  Please note that I used Paint Shop Pro 13
to do this.  The steps you would take are somewhat different in Adobe Photoshop Elements.  To fully appreciate what you're
seeing, you will need to pan to the right to look at the larger photos.
Original photo.  Here is the picture as it came out of the camera.  I used daylight from the window (daylight, not direct sunlight). 
The camera was set to take a full-sized image (no optical or digital zoom), with the least compression (Superfine setting), and was
set on Macro (for close-ups).  I took pictures at several different Exposure Compensation settings, and this photo came closest to
what I wanted.

Adjust color balance.  The picture came out with a very slight greenish color cast.  Although the cast is slight, I still decided to
fix it, for which I used the White Balance feature of my photo-editing program (usually called "White Balance" in other programs). 
Commonly, digital pictures will come out too yellow, too blue or as in this case a little green.  If your photo-editing program
doesn't have a White Balance feature, you'll have to manually adjust the red, green or blue color channels until the picture looks
right.  If you took the picture on a white background, then adjust the picture until the background looks neutral.
Crop off excess.  Then I cropped off the excess image around the beads:
Remove digital noise (grain).  If your picture comes out looking noisy or grainy, you may want to remove the noise.  Digital
noise or grain is common with point-and-shoot digital cameras.  The picture above is mostly noise-free, so I didn't need to adjust it.
This is a step you probably won't need to take.
Lighten or darken photo.  If your photo is too dark, you'll need to lighten it; or if your photo is too light, you'll need to darken
it.  In this case, the actual beads are lighter than the picture indicates, so I had to lighten the photo.  (Note:  On my new LCD
monitor, the original picture looks bright enough, and I wouldn't have changed it.)  Paint Shop Pro has a feature called Histogram
Adjustment (it was called Gamma Correction in previous versions).  It lightens and adds contrast at the same time, so I used that
feature on this picture.  Both Paint Shop Pro and Photoshop Elements have a Lighten Shadows feature which often works well.
  Please note that the colors of the beads become brighter (richer) when the picture is lightened.
Add contrast.  After you have lightened your picture, you may need to add contrast (this won't be necessary if you darkened it).
This picture doesn't need a lot of contrast, but contrast is good because it makes a picture look less dull and hazy, so I used some.
Please note that using contrast also makes the colors in a picture look richer and brighter.  If you use the Lighten Shadows feature,
adding contrast may not be necessary.

Reduce color saturation.  This is an often-neglected step, even by professionals, but it is very important.  Most modern
cameras produce pictures with over-saturated colors.  Also, lightening and then adding contrast to a picture will make the colors
in the picture become too bright and saturated.  You fix that by reducing the color saturation.  I compared the actual beads to the
picture above and saw that the color of the beads was not so bright and rich, so I reduced the color saturation.  The picture below
is the way the beads actually look.  Not all photo-editing programs have a color-saturation feature.  (Please note that producing
pictures with over-saturated colors will make your jewelry look better than it is, which may improve your sales.  However, your
customers may be disappointed when they receive your jewelry, and you may get more returns than you otherwise would.)

Reduce (shrink) the picture for the web.  Your picture, as it came out of the camera, will be too large.  In order for it to fit on
people's screens, you will need to shrink it.  Then I shrank the picture to 1250 pixels wide.  1250 pixels is rather large, but it is
necessary for the customer to see the details.  When resizing a picture, you have to make sure the photo keeps the same "aspect
ratio" (proportions).  Most photo-editing programs do that for you automatically.

Sharpen photo.  Now the picture has to be sharpened.  Sharpening is always necessary after reducing a picture's size.  Sharpen-
ing makes all the difference, as it makes the item look more real.  Please note that even if your camera produces sharp pictures,
you'll need to re-sharpen the picture after resizing it.

Add text (optional).  Then add text if you want.  This is the finished photo:
Add JPG compression.  After working on a photo, you will want to save the picture on your hard drive as a "master" in a non-
compressed format (such as TIF or PNG) and then save a copy to the directory that will be uploaded to the internet in the JPG
format.  When saving the JPG copy, your program will give you the option of applying a lot of compression (which reduces the
file size [in kilobytes] a great deal but makes the picture look blurry) or a little compression (which reduces the file size less but
keeps the picture looking clear).  I am a firm proponent of posting clear pictures, so I compress photos only 6% in Paint Shop Pro
(that's enough to cut the file size in half).  Please note that Photoshop Elements uses a completely different scale; in that program,
10% compression should be enough.
Make thumbnail.  When you post the picture on your site, you may want to use a thumbnail which the customer will click on to
see the full-sized image.  A good technique is to use just a portion of the picture as the thumbnail (instead of shrinking the entire
image).  On the left, below, is a thumbnail made from a portion of the picture.  On the right is the entire picture shrunk to thumbnail
size.  I think the thumbnail on the left is much better.  If you are making a thumbnail of a necklace, then put the pendant or a focal
bead in the thumbnail.


Here is another example of using a portion of an image as the thumbnail: