EDIT: Within 7 hours of posting this someone pointed out that the 900px action actually resizes to 1000px! This has now been fixed, but you may wish to download to action again, sorry!
Many photographers professional and amateur alike currently use my web resizing action as a quick way to produce critically sharp images for their websites and social platforms. This is the latest update which adds additional sizes (including Facebook default sizes) and the ability to add a customisation to the end of every action.
Most of you will probably just want to get using the action and ignore the largely unnecessary waffle below, so here it is!
Customising the action
Currently the actions are set up to resize and sharpen your images to the size you select as soon as you run the action. However many photographers, myself included, may wish to take this one step further. In my case I like to add a watermark. To achieve this all I have to do is record something in the ‘Optional Customisation (Step 3)’ action. In the specific case mentioned above this would be the process:
- Click on the action named ‘Optional Customisation (Step 3)’ and press the record button.
- Flatten the image
- Select the text tool and type the text as you would like anywhere in the image (for example ©alexnail.com)
- Alternatively draw a shape of your logo/signature anywhere on the image
- Transform the watermark so that it is the right size (nb you don’t have to position it yet)
- Select the background layer
- Hold down ctrl and select the watermark layer
- Select the move tool
- Use the move tool alignment buttons to move the text/watermark layer to the bottom right (or wherever you want)
- Use the keyboard arrow keys to move the text layer so that it isn’t touching the edges.
Achieving the ‘optimum’ result
There are a few factors that can affect the output of a web image.
- The quality of sharpening applied (this action ensures the sharpening quality is outstanding)
- The amount of sharpening applied
- The amount of compression when saving
- The amount of compression and resizing the website you upload to applies (Facebook for example can quite heavily compress jpeg images)
To get the most out of the action you may need to adjust the layer opacities to prevent the action from oversharpening / undersharpening your image. Unfortunately the action cannot see how sharp the original image is, nor how large it is, so it can require some modification. In my experience using this action on hundreds of images it is very well set up to produce sharp images from 15+MP images that have been well captured. Note that if you have already sharpened the image prior to running the action the result is more likely to look oversharp.
Photoshop’s ‘Save for Web’ is very good at producing high quality jpegs with very small file sizes. I would strongly recommend using a range between 50 and 80. Quite often I use a compression setting between 60 and 70 because I think this gives a good balance between quality and file size. Going above a quality setting of 80 produces very minor improvements to image quality, but quickly increases the file size, I would avoid doing that. Going below a quality setting of 50 uses such heavy compression that artifacts start to become easy to see. Images with fairly little detail (for example silhouettes against a blue sky) will have much lower file sizes anyway, so I might use a quality setting of 80 so that artifacts become essentially invisible whilst the file size is still small. The smaller the file size the faster people can see your images, given that people sometimes have slow internet speeds (or short attention spans) making your image file sizes as small as possible is very worthwhile.
Once you have produced your web image it’s now time to upload it. Having spent time making your image look as detailed as possible you upload it to a website only to find that the image quality has been destroyed! Facebook is probably the worst offender. Websites do this to make your files as small as possible to minimise the bandwidth use and improve user experience (faster page loads). This isn’t something that photographers want, but fortunately, aside from Facebook, most major sites are pretty good in this respect. To avoid the facebook compression you should ‘Save for web’ as a 24 bit PNG. The drawback is much larger file sizes (and correspondingly longer loading times for people viewing your images).