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March 2014 Web Extra: Photographing for the web

March 18, 2014 -  By
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Tiffany Morisue

Glance at Darwin Webb’s Porch profile and the number 371 might pop out to you. That’s how many project photos he has uploaded to the site.

“Having pictures of projects is more valuable than descriptions,” says the president of Darwin Webb Landscape Architects in Isaaquah, Wash. He was featured in “Word-of-web referrals” story in the March 2014 issue of Landscape Management. “Images are always better than words and good images are always better than poor images.”

We called on Tiffany Morisue, who presented on the topic of photography at the 2014 Central Environmental Trade Show (CENTS), for some pointers on how to avoid the most common amateur photography problems from the time you capture the picture to when you edit it and, lastly, upload it to the web. Here’s what the owner of Morisue Photography in Columbus, Ohio, had to say.

Rely on presets

Put away your cellphone, Morisue says. When photographing for the web, a digital camera is the best device to use because it gives you more control over the camera settings.

While shooting on full automatic isn’t frowned upon, a better option is to familiarize yourself with the camera’s preset modes—the icons on the camera that might resemble a flower, mountain or running man, to name a few.

Morisue points to the mountain icon as a reliable setting for shooting landscapes.

Under that setting, the camera is programmed to “have everything, as much as possible, in focus in the picture,” Morisue says. “And that’s important for landscapes.”

She advises to invest in a tripod to shoot on this setting, too, because the camera may use a longer shutter speed to ensure the entire setting is clearly captured in the frame.

Be attentive to lighting

Morisue says the topmost fault she sees in landscaping photos is under exposure, meaning they are too dark. This is a result of not enough light being used to snap the photo. An easy and highly recommended fix, she says, is to take advantage of natural lighting and don’t use a flash for outdoor photography because it will only illuminate up to a certain distance, typically 8 feet to 10 feet.

If necessary, shoot on a different day if the sun doesn’t shine bright enough for your photo, Morisue says.

Make web-friendly edits

Use a photo editing software, such as Photoshop, preview or the one installed as a factory default on your computer, to make relatively small tweaks to your photos before uploading them online. But don’t overdue it, Morisue says.

“We don’t want to make the roses twice as red as they really are because you can’t produce that for your customer,” she says. “We definitely want it to be realistic, but there’s a minimum amount of editing that should go into any photo we post.”

To that end, it is acceptable to increase the brightness of your photo if it’s slightly under exposed, and photos should be cropped to include only what’s relevant in the frame, Morisue says.

Before posting your photo online it’s a must to have the photo’s file format as a JPEG and for the photo to have a resolution of at least 72 pixels per inch (ppi) and no more than 100 ppi. The higher the resolution of your photo, the clearer it will display on screen. But if the resolution is too high, it will take too long to download for website visitors.

She ends with noting the safest editing is that which is done before the photo is even shot.

“I call it photo styling,” Morisue says, and adds it’s OK to remove any unrelated objects from a shot, such as trash, or even add something new into it. “If you do all of it upfront, that’s less editing you have to do on the computer.”

About the Author:

Former Associate Editor Sarah Pfledderer is a West Coast-based contributing editor for Landscape Management.

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