Date: February 26th, 2013

Behind the scenes: Picture editing

The Swatchaholic behind the scenes picture editing

I often get asked what kind of camera I use, how I take my pictures and how I edit them to make them ready to post. While it is quickly told with what camera I take my pictures (a soon eight years old Nikon CoolPix 5600) and which lighting I use (lightbox with indirect light for duochromes and multichromes and one desk lamp with a 70W halogen lightbulb for everything else), rotating and cropping pictures, correcing the colors and contrast and sharpen is also an important step on the constant mission for the most possible color accurate and perfect swatch.

Another and rather annoying thing is that every couple of months you get a troll comment saying that pictures look too photoshopped and not natural. With the term “too photoshopped” I associate especially makeup pictures where the skin isn’t looking like skin anymore and makes the person rather look like a fake silicone doll which is not a pretty look.
Reading this term is not only annoying but also hurts because I spend a lot of time swatching the nail polishes and also especially with clean-up so that there is no smudge, no flodded cuticles left before I take the actual pictures. I also always moisturize my cuticles and the skin around my nails before I take pictures to make sure my fingers look as smooth and healthy as possible. Not to mention the dozens of times I moisturize my hands and cuticles with Lush Smitten and Lemony Flutter during the day and the daily hand mask when I go to bed.

To show that it is not all magic and because I like sharing how my actual swatch pictures are created step by step I decided to write a “Behind the scenes” on picture editing the way I do it to have a hopefully as color accurate as possible swatch in the end. :)

Step 1: the original picture
The Swatchaholic behind the scenes picture editing

This is how the picture straight out of my camera looks. I always try to be both as close to my nails as possible but also to photograph as much of the black background as possible to have the most options for cropping the picture the way I like it.

Step 2: rotating the picture
The Swatchaholic behind the scenes picture editing

I like using different angles for my pictures and if I post single NOTDs I switch between the angles to not always have the same angle in the featured picture on my feed. The top and left of the picture are in the position I want to have them but the bottom and right still need to be cropped.

Step 3: cropping and eventual correction of the background (if it wasn’t big enough)
The Swatchaholic behind the scenes picture editing

The picture on the left is now cropped but I still didn’t photograph enough of the background so I needed to enhance it a little. Because I now have the informations about the nail polish on the bottom I rather have more background than I eventually will need after the text is added. What is too much can always be cropped later. :)

After cropping and the correction of the background the picture looks like this:
The Swatchaholic behind the scenes picture editing
Step 4: correction of the brightness and contrast
The Swatchaholic behind the scenes picture editing

Often I have to either make the pictures a bit lighter or darker because my little camera doesn’t always photograph my skin and the nail polish the same way. Sometimes my skin is too light – like in this case – or too dark. It is not always much but it’s not like how it looks when I look at my hands so I correct it if needed to have a as much consistent skintone as possible.

Step 5: correction of the saturation of my skin
The Swatchaholic behind the scenes picture editing

My camera always captures my skin too saturated so I tone it down a bit.

Step 6: color correction of the nail polish
The Swatchaholic behind the scenes picture editing

As much as I love my camera – it works perfectly for its age even though it is not even a DSLR – it doesn’t always capture colors like they look to me. Sometimes a red can be too orange, a pink too purple, a blue to teal or in this case the pink too warm so I color correct it until it fits to how I see the color when I look at my nails and not how my camera sees it. :)

Step 7: sharpen the picture
The Swatchaholic behind the scenes picture editing

Due to the rotation and resizing of the picture the original sharpness will be reduced so I sharpen the picture again to make it more crisp again.

Step 8: adding the watermark and text and final cropping
The Swatchaholic behind the scenes picture editing

My final step is adding my watermark, the text with the information about the nail polish and to crop the few pixels at the bottom which I don’t need after the placement of the box with the text. Then I save the picture and I am done. :)

I hope you enjoyed this little (or long and picture heavy :P ) view behind the scenes of The Swatchaholic. I am very proud of my pictures because they are so much work especially before I even start taking the actual pictures but also the little tweaks like the color correction are important. The differences between the original and the final picture might not seem much but for me they are essential to show you the nail polishes as color accurate, as true to real life as possible.

The comment or post I see every other month on about if pictures are too photoshopped is really getting on my nerves. Just because a picture looks neat doesn’t mean that someone photoshopped its soul out of it. The preparation of our nails is as important as our actual photo setup. I highly recommend to check out Martha’s (The Polished Perfectionist) tutorial how to clean up nails and Michèle’s (Lacquerized) tutorials on how to apply nail polish and how to clean-up. An angled brush and acetone nail polish remover are my holy grails for perfectly clean manicured nails. :)

Thanks for looking and have a great week! ♥

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88 thoughts on “Behind the scenes: Picture editing

  1. Your photos are beautiful! I appreciate the time and effort you put into them. Thanks for providing such a fun and informative site.

  2. linalinux on said:

    love this!! your pictures are amazing and it is great to know how they get like it :) And your hands are beautiful :)

  3. thanks for sharing! i have always loved your swatches and they are just amazing!

    i don’t normally paint my fingers but i love to paint my toes!

    by the way, have you tried Illamasqua’s i’mperfection nail polishes?
    plue recently posted..Goodbye 2012, Hello 2013!My Profile




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