Photoshop question

I’m in the process of making a photo album for a friend of mine. Being a poor student type and possessing an extremely shitty printer, I am trying to photoshop all the digital photos myself (just simple red eye, cropping, etc) and then print them somewhere like walmart or something. Is there anything I need to know about doing this? I’m kind of afraid that I’ll drop off what look like great photos on my computer screen, but get back grainy terrible looking things. I know it will only be $20-$30 worth of printing, but I can’t really afford to redo them.

Thanks for any helpful advice (I know you guys will have some!)

Well, you could make a “digital” photo album, and don’t print anything. Let the receiver print out whatever they want.

My general experience is that if it looks good on a screen set to display at the same size you want to print, it will look ok on photo paper.

Try one print. A lot of photo stores have digital media printers that you can plug your cd or memory stick right into, do some basic cropping and color adjustments, and print out on the spot. If one works do more.

You are far mor likely to run into problems if you blow up low-res pictures up to 8x10 size. I’d be pretty leery of blowing up something under 4 megapixels to that size. If you actually have Photoshop, there is a function to interpolate from the existing pixels and add more to make the image denser, for a larger printout. I’ve used it and it works pretty well.

Are you a ‘photographer’ in any sense of the word, or are these just ‘snapshots.’ If these are just snapshots of random things/friends, walgreens/walmart will be fine. The people that run into problems are people that spend a good deal of time making sure everything is just right, especially color issues.
Look at it this way. If you’ve never calibrated your monitor (or don’t know how or what that means), then you’ll be safe getting them printed at Walmart.

Hmmm, okay, this is all helpful advice. Unfortunately I can’t make a digital album because I promised my friend that it would be a whole scrapbook deal, a sort of keepsake. I have never made a scrapbook before and while I take lots of pictures, I wouldn’t describe myself as a ‘photographer’ by any means. I was looking at taking them to Walmart.

Trying one picture out first would be great, if Walmart is that fast.
I guess I should be more specific - is there anything I can do in Photoshop at home to ensure good prints?

Most picture problems are related to exposure or focus. There isn’t much you can do with out of focus pictures (at least without a good deal of time and hassle), so I would just leave them out.

If you want to keep your changes simple and quick, stick to playing around with brightness and contrast when dealing with exposure issues. These, and color balance if you want to do more playing, are all under Image - Image Adjustments. Well, that’s where they are in Photoshop 7.0.

The other most useful thing is the Crop tool. Get rid of extraneous backgraound by cropping it out.

The real problem seems to be a difference in the color balance between what’s on the screen and what comes out of the printer. Generally it’s not a huge difference, for scrap booking, you should be fine. What some people will do, is calibrate their monitor, and futz with some other settings to be sure their monitor will look the same way their printer prints out (or the printer they use).

My suggestion. Take a couple of pictures to Walgreens/Walmart and print them out. If they don’t look okay to you, you’ll know what to over compensate for.
For example, if faces look pale, you’ll know that you need to add a little red to all your pictures. If the pictures have a green overcast to them, you’ll need to tone that down. But most likely you’ll be find. I have my own $500 photo printer, but I still use Walmart from time to time and have never had a problem.

Great! Thanks guys. I will definitely try just a couple prints first, then do the rest. I’m not a very experienced Photoshop used, so this is all new to me. I read something online about printing from photoshop, and it suggested changing all kinds of resolution settings, adjusting colour casts to compensate for printing techniques, etc. Let’s just say these people were not going to Walmart! It freaked me out.

Heed Joey P. Monitor calibration is essential as it’s the only way to be sure you’ll get reliable colours. Most pros and dedicated amateurs use an external device that attaches to the front of your screen and measures the actual light wavelengths in order to properly adjust the monitor. I use this one. If you don’t want to spend the money, then you can try to calibrate with Adobe Gamma or the MS Colour control applet.

As for photoshop post-processing, the most critical aspects are resolution, contrast and sharpening. Since you mention cropping, make sure that you have at least 250 ppi (300 ppi is even better), at the size you wish to print.

Secondly, if you don’t know how to read a histogram, then learn! Check out Understanding Histograms from Luminous Landscape (an excellent photography resource web site). Once you’ve got a handle on this, not hard, then use levels to adjust the contrast in your photo. Ideally, you’ll want a nice range of tones from black to white, although there are exceptions. Be careful not to overdo it and blow out your highlights or turn your shadows completely black.

As for sharpening, well, sharpening is a little bit of a black art. Generally, all digital photos require sharpening. Most digital cams apply at least some of it in-camera to your JPGs, but you’ll still want to some output sharpening for the printer. Here’s a good Sharpening 101 article by Thom Hogan. Unfortunately, it’s a complex subject and requires much trial and error before you can really get a handle on it. One thing to keep in mind is that you want your photo to look just a little TOO sharp on-screen, before sending to the printer.

It’s definitely worth it to get just a few prints made first so you can adjust your files accordingly. Also, have a look around to see if there are any local camera stores that have printing services. It’s almost guaranteed that the prints they produce will be better than Walmart’s and they probably won’t be that much more expensive either.

Oh, BTW, NEVER work on your original file. Always work on a backup.

Just an FYI…it is also possible to email the photos to some of the local places (Target, Sam’s, Walmart, etc.) and pick up the photos later the same day, or the next day. Sometimes the savings is pretty good.
Another idea is to take the photos on a thumb drive (Flash drive or whatever you call it there) or on a disc and, at least at Target, you can print out ONE single picture (about 20 cents) and see how it looks. That should make the process easier, less stressful and perhaps cheaper in the long-run.
It doesn’t hurt to ask the person behind the desk for some help - that is why there are there and, if they are not busy, they might be able to offer you some helpful suggestions. Many of the things you want to do can easily be done right there at the store as well.

The key is resolution. Nobody seems to have addressed this issue, but it’s important, as if you mess that part up it can ruin the pics.

When you scan in an image, or take a digital picture, you can set the resolution. The default setting is usually something like 150ppi or 300ppi (ppi = pixels per inch). For printing, the rule is “the higher the better”, and changing the settings can cause problems, so I think the best setting is 300ppi.

This makes the images very large to work with, and possibly memory intensive, but it also means that when it prints it can read a lot of information and so give a higher detailed image.

There are ways you can resize the image to exact printing size, in inches or cm, without affecting resolution. But there are also ways to do it that does affect resolution, and ways to alter resolution that affect print size. It can get confusing. If you need help to visualise things, try this webpage. Or you can ask some specific questions here.

Pretty much what Hodge said. Color calibration is a rather difficult topic on its own, although it is possible to color correct even if you don’t have a properly calibrated monitor if you know what you’re doing (basically, you would use your Info palette a lot in Photoshop and check RGB/CMYK levels against known values and educated guesses. This is a topic beyond the discuss of this thread, though. Dan Margulis’s Professional Photoshop would be the bible of all things print color related.)

I would say the easiest thing for a beginner to do is use Photoshop’s Auto Levels. It’s not a perfect solution, but it does a pretty good job on most photos in setting the black and white points. Click on Auto Levels, see if it looks pretty good. If not, undo it and do the changes yourself. Otherwise, save a file and make a test print. Most of the lower end labs want the file with an sRGB color profile, (Go to Edit > Assign Profile and make sure it’s set to sRGB IEC1966-2.1). Choose a file that has a wide range of tones, including skin tones, as your test.

That said, I find it’s always a crap shoot with places like these. Sometimes the cheapie prints looks great. Other times, like complete garbage.

Seriously, if you’re a beginner get Picasa and click on the “I’m feeling lucky” button. That usually works for me.
I fear that the OP is new to this and that Photoshop may be too much to start off with.
You can also fine-tune any photo without messing up the original. Picasa has a fairly wide assortment of tools. You may never use Photoshop again unless you undertake some extreme editing.
Go to and browse through the extras section if you don’t know where to get Picasa from. It’s free too.

Here’s the link.

If you do use Photoshop (which actually I think is going to be a waste for what you’re trying to accomplish, and expensive to boot), the best method I’ve found for removing red eye is this:

  1. Zoom in on eye. (You can do both at the same time but I think it’s easier to do one at a time.)
  2. Look at the channel mixer. Pick a channel other than Red. Blue usually works best.
  3. Use the Elliptical tool to draw a circle (doesn’t have to be perfect) around the iris. Hit Ctrl-C to copy what you just circled.
  4. Click on the Green Channel and Paste.
  5. Click on the Red channel and Paste. (Note, you do not have to position anything anywhere when you’re pasting - the program knows to paste the iris you copied onto the exact same spot on the iris in the new channel).
  6. Repeat for the other eye.
  7. Go back to the RGB channel. Look at your beautiful de-redified eyes.

This method is MUCH quicker, easier, and more natural-looking that any method that uses painting or picking up a pixel of iris color with the eyedropper and painting the iris, adjusting the blur, etc. It changes the color of the iris without changing the pupil, and preserves the highlight, which prevents your subject from looking dead.

Okay, so far everything seems to be going good. I’ve already done quite a few pictures with Photoshop (I already have the software, so no expense there), but based on the advice of many people here I’m going to try downloading Picasa and see how that works for me. I’m all for simplicity!

I did read something online about changing the resolution, so I’ve changed it to 300ppi on all my shots so far. Most of them were at 72ppi when I started.

Today I’m going to start scanning in some shots that were given to me by another friend and need to be included in the book. They were shot with a shitty camera and have horrible cropping and red eye, so it’s a challenge! I’m not sure how the scanning will work out - I have the negatives too, but is there any way to work from those?

In any case, thanks for all the help so far, guys.

Yes, with a negative scanner. I also believe many (if not most) of the consumer photo finishing places have a service where they will scan negs for you.

Cool, if you need a gmail account let me know. I can send you an invite and you’ll be up and running in no time. You need gmail to register for Picasa.

It is important that you understand dpi and resolution.

DPI is for printing. Basically it means dots per inch.

Now you may be looking at a very nice photo on your screen but when you print it, it becomes grainy.

Let’s say your image is 1000x1000. (image menue–image size) Those 1000 pixels fill you screen with beautiful image.

Now you want to print.

But what is your DPI? Or how big are you printing your image?

I print my images at 300 DPI. So you 1000x1000 image would print nicely at about 3 inches by 3 inches.

If you try to print out an 8 x 10 inch image, you won’t get very good results.

Other notes

I have picasa and I don’t have gmail.

Scaning negs is possible but probably expensive. My lab charges $15 dollars for a roll and if you aren’t sure the images are any good to begin with, you may want to reconsider it.

Yeah, I looked at the prices for that and went :eek: . I think I’ll just try to scan them with my home scanner - the results of this don’t have to be perfect, just something nice for my friend to look at.

Thanks again for all the help - now I just need to get down to business and do the work!

Oh, and I got Picasa just fine, but thanks for the Gmail offer, Uncommon Sense. It’s really cool! Now I’m just playing with it when I should be doing something useful!

Okay - one more question, I swear. If I’m scanning photos in myself, what resolution do I want to do that at? I’ve been changing all the photos to 300dpi in Photoshop, so do I want to scan at 300dpi? Any benifit to going higher?