Let’s get to a real frustration that many photographers have, including me.
You know the drill:
Spend tons of time preparing for a photo sessions – check ✓
Invest in expensive equipment – check ✓
Edit til wee hours of the night – check ✓
and the moment arrives that you can show the world your creation.
Nothing is more intimidating and exciting then putting our images out there for people to see.
You know your client is just as excited as you! You certainly want to knock their socks off with a first sneak peek.
So you prep your images and upload them to Facebook.
OMG. No way! What the hell happened to my photo? I swear my colors aren’t green. No way is my photo pixelated. What the freak just happened?
Here’s the real deal. Facebook has servers. Servers that cost money. Your account is free.
They aren’t going to let you upload huge files that cost them an arm & leg to host. Ok, not because you are an expensive customer but because the entire world of Facebook users is and that amount of server space just went beyond our imagination.
So what do they do? They resave the image on upload and compress it further.
You know where Photoshop asks you the quality of an image by a number value upon saving it? That’s the compression. And it can get a little confusing so let me do a little more explaining.
Let’s start with why it’s happening
It is sometimes misunderstood why Facebook images often look pixelated or of less quality than the photo you originally post. And this is due to compression.
An image is compressed once saved as Jpg. This happens every time a photo is resaved as Jpg.
So, to best understand it we will start from the beginning. A photo in its original camera state is RAW.
You may shoot “jpg” which simply means your camera saves the RAW info into jpg format. This is the first compression of that image. (compression #1)
When you edit a photo after uploading to your computer and save it, you are also compressing it further. (compression #2)
Later when you head over to Facebook and upload this gorgeous image you are so proud of, it is stripped and saved again. Compressing it further. (compression #3)
So by now your photo has been compressed at least 3 times. Enter in the pixelation. The scenario works like this: RAW to Jpg = compression, You editing and resaving as JPG = compression, You uploading to Facebook = compression … YUCK! We are going to teach you how to take out one of those compressions to make it all better.
How do you fix this? There are many things that can enhance an image before it goes to Facebook.
Step 1: Proper web sharpening and brightness are truly important.
Not all sharpening is created equal.
Preparing a photo for screen is a must.
You can quickly sharpen an image by duplicating the background layer and running a sharpening filter on it. I actually prefer & suggest a High Pass Filter. This proves to be the best results, in my opinion.
How to sharpen an image in Photoshop?
1. Click the background layer in Photoshop, and duplicate it.
2. Go to toolbar and click Filter > Other > High Pass …
3. Set the “Radius” to something low (I like 3.2 for web sharpening). The etched lines you see appearing as you drag the slider left and right are the details that it will sharpen. Remember you only want to sharpen the important things. This new layer will look a bit strange (gray) at first. That’s perfectly normal.
4. In your layers palette, go to the “blending mode” dropdown and change it to “Soft Light”. Tip: if this doesn’t seem like a strong enough sharpen, you can change soft light to “Hard Light”
Optional: You can also brighten by adding a “Brightness & Contrast” adjustment layer.
Don’t want the extra work? Use the form below to enter your info & we will send a Photoshop Action that does this all for you!
Step 2: Save the file as PNG.
Remember when we talked about how saving as JPG creates compression? This is why saving and uploading a PNG develops best results on social media. PNG format does not compress the image, making it one less compression point.
Best part? We developed a Photoshop Action to do this for you & it’s FREE!
Step 3: Fixing dull green color
Have you ever posted an image to Facebook and quickly realize the color was off? That it appeared to have a green dull hue to it?
This is due to the color profile. The quickest way to check why your colors are appearing off when uploaded to the web is to check the color profile. The standard web profile for images is sRGB. Setting your images to this will ensure they are sharp and vibrant on social media sites. To see how to do this please read this article where we go into depth about sRGB and how to fix it.
Then upload that image to Facebook. Tadahhhhh …. The recipe to beautiful images.
So there you have it my friend. A solution to the frustrating Facebook pixelated photo terror we have all faced.