Photographing Art Digitally Part 2


Armand Cabrera

Digital images are easier to manipulate than traditional film. Digital tools allow anyone with the money to buy the software and with a little study and practice be able to edit their own images.  I use Photoshop for all of my image correcting.

This is not a Photoshop tutorial; if you don’t know the basics of Photoshop I recommend buying the software and using the online help tutorials that come with it to learn its basic functions. These online help features are the equivalent of reading the manual.

I want to make the image look almost as good as the original. This idea is very important.  It is very easy to make a painting look better than it actually is with digital tools. As an artist selling my work I want to avoid this at all costs. Nothing is more disappointing than seeing the physical painting and realizing that the image was manipulated to look better than the artist was capable of painting it.
I am currently using Photoshop CS5 on a workstation PC. If you have an apple computer I feel sorry for you and this article is not for you.
When I open the image in Photoshop, I first crop it using the crop tool and square it using the free transform function. Once the free transform function is activated I position the control points while pressing the control key on my keyboard while I work. This activates the distort function which allows me to pull any point handle independently of the others.  I avoid using the auto correct functions on the image. The goal is to make it like the original, not some predetermined idea of what a good photo is.
Next I open the color balance tool and adjust the color.
Then I open the brightness /contrast tool and adjust the brightness and contrast.
The last thing I do is open the Hue /Saturation Tool and adjust the saturation.
All of this should get me close to the original painting. If not I will go in and using the selection tools adjust elements of the painting individually for color, saturation and value. When I am finished I save the image as a jpeg file on its highest setting at 300 DPI. I label it for print and then open up the image size tool and make a copy for my web postings. I set the DPI at 72 instead of 300 and set the longest measurement at 800 pixels.
 That size is just enough for someone to get a good idea of what the image is but not high enough for someone to make prints of. And that’s it. Professional images that are good enough for print publications and the web.




The free transform tool is found in the Edit dropdown menu. You must have an active selection (Already selected something)  to select it from the dropdown menu.
The Image size and crop Functions are found under the Image dropdown menu


The Color Balance Tool, the Brightness /Contrast Tool and the Hue/Saturation Tool are all found under the adjustments fly out panel, under the image dropdown menu.

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