Short description of a photo processing work flow.
When uploading pictures to Airfighters processing pictures is a necessity. All photos will require to be re-sized, sharpened, leveled, contrast adjusted, and if needed, color corrected and dust spots removed. We herewith give you some guidelines on how processing could be accomplished. Of course, there's more than one way to obtain the same results.
Processing digital images starts with the original picture. When using slide scans, please make sure the scans are sharp (can you notice the grain of the film?) and have sufficient contrast (there must be blacks and whites in a picture). When using digital images, it is best is to start off with RAW photos. In the raw converter, some corrections on white balance (colors), brightness and contrast can be made virtually without losing quality.
We now follow some steps to be taken in the processing work flow, using this picture:
1) Is it sharp?
Zoom in on the picture to check whether is it sharp. The "rescue" text near the cockpit can be a good indicator.
2) Is it level?
Level the picture using the horizon or any vertical objects in the picture. If the picture has been taken with a wide angle lens, the horizontals or verticals you are using must be near the centre of the picture.
Use the measure tool hidden behind the pipette.
Then draw a line over the horizon.
Next: Image -> Rotate Canvas -> Arbitrary. The correct amount of rotation is given.
3) Is the object centered?
By cropping the picture the borders can be removed and the object can be centred. As Airfighters.com uses standard aspect ratio, you can use the fixed 6:4 aspect ration when cropping. This ensures your aspect ratio always meets the guidelines.
Use scissors and choose Crop 4 inch x 6 inch. If resolution 300 pixels is given, then empty this box.
4) Are there blacks and whites in the picture?
Check the histogram (levels) of the picture. If there is a gap at the edges this means blacks and or whites are missing.
Choose Image -> adjustmenst -> levels (or Ctrl-L)
By shifting the rulers towards the edges of the histogram the picture gets the contrast it often needs. Sometimes the ruler of the bright part results in loss of contrast and thus bleached out parts in the sky. In that case shift the ruler back to the right.
5) Is the color balance correct?
You may check the color balance and adjust when necessary. Best order is correcting shadows first, highlights second and fine adjust with mid tones. In this picture red was a bit reduced. Color often is a matter of personal taste and good judgement needs a properly calibrated monitor. The simplest way of checking a bandwidth of color is comparing your pictures with accepted ones in the Airfighters.com database.
Choose Image -> Adjust -> color balance (or Ctrl-B)
6) Are there any dust spots?
Remove these from your picture.
The best way of removing dust is using layers. Copy your image into e second layer (Layer -> Duplicate layer. Press OK), than select equalize (Image -> Adjustments -> Equalize). Any dust spots become clearly visible. Select the background layer (original picture) and remove the visible dust spots in that background layer.
(While working the spot remains visible in the active duplicate layer). You can remove the duplicate layer by clicking the background copy layer in the layer menu again and than click the trash bin.
For a check whether all spots have been removed you may repeat this action until no spots appear in the duplicated layer)
7) Resize picture
Reduce the size of your picture to a standard size. Minimum on Airfighters.com is 1000 pixels wide. Be sure that proportions are unchanged to avoid compressed or stretched aircraft.
Image -> Image Size (or Alt-Ctrl-I). Width = 1000 pixels and check box 'Constrain proportions'
8) Remove grain
When using slide scans it may be helpful to remove any noise of the film grain by using noise reduction. Neat Image is a free tool, that gives great results for pictures up to 1024 pixels wide. When using digital images noise reduction is not necessary when using low ISO settings.
9) Sharpen picture
As final step in the processing workflow give the picture some additional sharpness. It is very important you sharpen the picture after resizing. Sharpening must be done with some caution, as too much sharpness gives white outlines around dark parts.
For digital pictures you may try filter -> sharpen -> smart sharpen (settings: 30%, 1, lens blur with digital images or 40%, 1, lens blur with slide scans) or filter -> sharpen - > unsharp mask (settings: 100, 0,2,0 with digital images or 100, 0,3, 0 with slide scans).
The final result:
After saving your picture to your local hard disk, you may upload it to the database.