Post-Processing for Product Photos

Depending on the results of your product photography, you may want to do some editing with graphics software like Adobe Lightroom or Photoshop. This is referred to as post-processing.

If your lighting and preparations were good enough, you may not have to do much editing at all, but some fixes and enhancements are occasionally necessary. When editing photos, always keep your original and save your changes to a copy. This will prevent you from needing to take the photo again if you make a mistake you can’t undo.

 

Color Correction for Product Photos

Sometimes the color of your item itself will cause changes to the background due to the light reflecting from the item. So a red purse might reflect red light onto your backdrop, making the image slightly pink. Small details, such as gold buttons, would also pick up a pink tint. In this case, you can use color correction to restore the colors to their natural appearance.

Color correction tools can be found in a wide variety of graphics software, including Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop, as well as free software like GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program). Online tools are available too, such as Clipping Magic, which can also handle background removal and drop shadows. Depending on the software you use for your photo editing, you may have access to automatic color correction or be able to make manual adjustments with sliders.

If you’ve set up your studio well, fully tested your lighting, and finalized your camera settings with practice photographs, you’re not likely to have to do a lot of color correcting on your final photos. It will probably only be necessary for certain products of certain colors. Brighter colors and shinier surfaces have a greater chance of tinting your image and requiring correction.

 

Background Removal

The vast majority of product photographers prefer to cut every item out of its background, even when the background is already nearly invisible. The benefits to this approach include reduced file size and greater image consistency.

Background removal can be done with the same software as color correction. The previously-mentioned Clipping Magic online tool has background removal as its main feature. No matter what program you use to remove your backgrounds, look into the settings for ensuring you get a realistic edge on your product.

Depending on the software you use, look for a setting or process called anti-aliasing or feathering. These two methods work a little differently. In Adobe software, anti-aliasing preserves the most detail near the edges because it works by adjusting the color transition around the edge of the object, while feathering smooths edges by blurring them slightly. Other software and tools may use different names for these processes, like simply “smoothing.”

You’ll also want to crop your photos to maintain a consistent size and shape so they line up properly on your product pages. This is especially important when you have multiple images of similar products next to each other, where an inconsistent size will give your page a messy appearance.

 

Drop Shadows

After removing the background you’ll want to add a shadow back underneath the item. This may seem a little counterintuitive at first, since you just went out of your way to cut all but your product out of the picture, but product images with shadows tend to sell more than products with images where the item appears to be floating in space. Shadows add depth and make the product look “real,” and customers are less likely to buy a product they can’t see as “real.”

To add drop shadows, you can use the same software or online tools we’ve listed for color correction and background removal. You have a few options as to how you do this. You can add a simple, plain grey shadow directly beneath the item, or create a subtle reflection effect. Both serve to ground your product and add realistic weight to it.

You can also combine the two techniques and create both a shadow and a reflection. Keep it subtle so as to keep the attention on the product itself.

 

Retouching Product Photos

Occasionally you may notice a small imperfection in one of your product photos, like a piece of dust you missed during preparations. You can use graphics software to remove these imperfections.

For example, Adobe Photoshop provides you with a number of tools that can retouch imperfections in different ways. The clone stamp tool lets you select a part of your image and then “paint” onto another part of your image with your clone selection as a brush. This is very handy for covering imperfections that are near edges.

The patch tool is another useful Photoshop tool that works in a similar way to the clone stamp, but instead lets you create a selection to be blended over another area. Since the patch tool uses blending, it’s better for smooth surfaces.

 

Image Optimization

When you’ve completed all your necessary post-production, it’s time to optimize your photos for use on your online store. The image files you’ve been working with are far too large to use on your website, so it’s time to adjust their size and resolution.

In graphics software, image size refers to the image’s dimensions in pixels, such as 500×400. Resolution refers to the number of pixels per inch. For display online, a resolution of 72 pixels per inch is ideal, and a good size for an online store is to keep your image’s longest dimension between 600 and 800 pixels tall or wide. Resolution settings are usually found in the same menu as resizing settings, so you’ll be able to adjust both at the same time.

When adjusting size, make sure you don’t accidentally change your image’s aspect ratio, which will cause it to look squashed or stretched. There’s usually a check box near the image size controls that will lock the aspect ratio. You’ll only need to adjust the height or width of the image, and the other will automatically fill in.

With some software, you may need to enter your desired size and resolution in a specific order, as adjusting one may cause the other to change in the options panel. Just keep an eye out for this and fix the one that changed automatically before you confirm.

Some eCommerce software like 3dcart will automatically resize images for you during image upload, saving you from needing to do this step manually.

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