Facebook & Blog Image Prep: How I Get Awesome Web-Ready Images

I’ve been asked a few times how I prep my images for Facebook and my blog, so I thought I’d attempt another FAQ post!

For a long time, I struggled with Facebook’s awful image compression and rendering, but I think I’ve finally fallen into a groove on how I prep my images for my blog and Facebook. I can’t take all the credit for what I do… earlier in the year La Brisa Photography did an experiment on different Lightroom export settings, and the results from that experiment paved the way for how I do things today.

First, I have to address that I prep images in three separate ways:

  1. For my blog (Photoshop)
  2. For my business Facebook page (Photoshop)
  3. For my personal Facebook profile (Lightroom)

My blog and Facebook page both have my logo attached to the images through a polaroid-style frame. For my personal profile, when I’m simply uploading images from every day life, they do not have any type of logo – just the image.

I have to admit, when I was first starting out in photography, I really wanted to purchase BlogStomp. I loved how it was a simple action that resized everything for you, but I didn’t want to pay for it (even though it’s really not expensive!). So, I slaved over Photoshop tutorials to understand these things called “actions” and how I could create my own that do what I want. In the end, I’ve been able to create a set of actions that, depending on what I’m doing, will properly size, place, and sharpen images for the web. I’m sure that BlogStomp is still easier, as from what I understand it’s an actually application and is much faster, but my workflow is pretty decent as-is. Yes, I have to open up the images in PS before I can run the action, but it’s not too much of a hassle for me.

I won’t go into how I created the action because it’s quite complicated and I’m not sure I could even adequately communicate the details. But, basics of it is that I open it in PS, resize the image to the necessary size, and then apply the sharpening action. So, in the case of my blog, my images end up being 800px wide. I double-up verticals, but the resulting combo is still 800px. Examples (and sneak peeks from this weekend):

As for how I sharpen the images…a long time ago I came across a free set of actions that included a web-sharpening action called Lookin’ Sharp Baby. I can’t even remember what the set was called, or who the creator was. But basically, it uses the Unsharp Mask filter in Photoshop. So, once the image is resized, the unsharp mask comes into play. First I create a duplicate layer, as I prefer to use the layer opacity feature to adjust, and then run the unsharp mask filter.

Now, when you’re in the unsharp mask dialog box, it sort of becomes personal preference. BEWARE: if you over-sharpen your images, they will look awful and the photography police will come and get you. I always check before/afters just to make sure it’s not too overdone. Trust me, too-sharp images are not pretty, especially when working with people and faces!

You can see the difference between the original and the sharpened image. I’d say 100% is a little much, but I just adjust it to where I like it. I’m not sure the exact settings on my action, but find what works for you and stick to it. I don’t think I’ve ever adjusted the radius or threshold, but if you want to experiment, go for it and let me know what you find out! So, that’s basically it for sharpening. Just make sure that you’ve resized your image first.

Now, when it comes to Facebook, it seems like we can never be sure what our images are going to look like when they’re uploaded. What La Brisa found out what that the optimal size for an image on Facebook was 960px on its longest side. Super weird, right? Whatever. So, that action that I run for my blog images? It’s simply adjusted so that the final JPEG is 960px on the longest side. I think it’s worked out pretty well for me. EDIT TO ADD: See below for updated dimensions!

So, what if you just export your images from Lightroom and don’t mess around with Photoshop? Well, that’s what I do for my personal pictures. There’s no need for my watermark/logo, so here are my export settings in LR:

File Settings: JPEG, sRGB, 85 quality
Image Sizing: Resize to fit Width & Height 960 x 960px, 300 ppi resolution
Output Sharpening: Sharpen for Screen, Standard

The image sizing setting always seems to throw people for a loop when I tell them. It’s weird, but you’re basically telling LR to make which ever side is longer (width or height) 960px. It does not skew your images to a square, I promise! Here’s what it looks like when you export with those settings:

And voila. I upload that straight to Facebook and it looks great. No fuzziness or pixelation. Just prettiness. (PS – are you enjoying these pictures of me?? I’m super excited to finally have some update shots of myself!)

UPDATE TO ADD: I purchased an iPad earlier in the year and I started noticing that my images looked HORRIBLE on the iPad but decent on Facebook. I asked a couple photographers who were rocking their images, and here’s the real trick: instead of resizing your images to 960px on the longest size, resize it to 2048px and upload with the High Quality option checked. My girl Michelle Moore also recently posted that if you save your images as PNG rather than JPG, it’s even better!

This is simply my approach to prepping blog and Facebook images. I’m sure there are other ways, but this works for me! I hope you find a groove that works for you, and if you have any questions or suggestions, let me know in the comments! I hope this helped someone…if not, I may or may not try again!

XOXO
Rachel

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