“There is unrest in the forrest, there is trouble with the trees; for the maples want more sunlight and the oaks ignore their pleas…” sang Geddy Lee of Rush on the track entitled “The Trees” from their 1978 album “Hemispheres”.
This post isn’t exactly about oaks & maples (in fact I haven’t got a clue what the trees in the pictures are) but it is sort of about sunlight, more specifically how it made the trees look good and hence me grabbing my camera to capture it. The trouble with theses particular trees however is not about them arguing over sunlight but the fact that once the images have been resized to make them suitable to post on the web; they don’t look as good as the original files straight out of my camera.
First, a bit of an explanation of the process involved. My camera is a Nikon D700 (with very good lenses) and I shoot in RAW mode. This means that it produces files in Nikon’s proprietary NEF format which are 4256 pixels by 2832 pixels. And when viewed in Aperture 3, they look good; in some cases they look great! I try not to do too much processing, maybe some exposure, white balance, curves and highlight/shadow adjustment where needed but images like these generally don’t need it. Then it’s time to resize for posting.
Now images destined for viewing on the web generally have a resolution of 72dpi and are anywhere between 500 pixels to 800 pixels wide. In the case of theses images they are 798 x 531 pixels at 72dpi (displayed at 300 x 199 when viewed in the post, click on them to view at 798 x 531 etc – it’s a WordPress thing). It’s this bit of the process where it all seems to go a bit wrong. One of the problems with reducing the size of an image is that it “softens” the image and the solution is to “sharpen” it following the resizing etc.
Now this is all well and good and the theory is well documented and makes sense once you understand the technicalities. The problem is, well for me anyway, that the final image doesn’t look as great as before the resizing. It doesn’t seem to matter what I do or what tools I use (generally NIK sharpener Pro 3 plugin for Photoshop), it just doesn’t cut it. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not always disappointed with every image I produce, sometimes I’m satisfied and just occasionally mildly impressed; but never as much as I am with the original size image.
What makes it worse is that all the images that I see on the web by other photographers look great; what am I doing wrong! According to the song, “And the trees are all kept equal, by hatchet, axe and saw…”.
Well, I’ve got all the hatchets, axes and saws that I need; guess it’s time to learn how to use them a little better.