As I have taken an interest in facebook I started posting some of my images. At the same time I had clients wanting me to provide images for them to post to facebook. As these images started getting posted I kept getting the same question, “What are you doing to make your images look so sharp on facebook and download so fast”.
The first images I posted I took down almost immediately, I saw my professional photography look like bluty lumps on the screen. Being a bit obsessive about how my images are displayed I had to test and find the sweet spot in the facebook compression vs display size. This is what I came up with.
- Resize [576px by 576px]
- Unsharp Mask [Amount 50%, Radius 0.7, Threshold 1]
- Save and compress jpg file [Quality 8, Progressive Scans 5]
- Upload and choose “uncompressed”
1. The image size should be within 576 pixels by 576 pixels, that can also be stated as whithin 8 inches by 8 inches at 72dpi. So, when resizing put the longest dimension at 576 pixles [or 8in at 72dpi], lock the aspect ratio so the shorter dimension will be sized proportionately. Now your image will fit on the facebook screen and doesn’t need to be resized by facebook system, which would apply its own compression.
2. The resize will soften or blur the image a bit, so I then do an Unsharp Mask. Unsharp Mask is actually a sharping technique. This name comes from how we would do this in the darkroom with real film. To explain quickly we would make a slightly blurry contact print on another chip of film. Then put it in contact, but slightly off center [out of register], with the original negative. When printing through the mask in contact with the negative some edges would get more light and some less, thus some edges would be brighter and some darker on the print creating a sharpening effect. What would take hours, or days, to expose, develop, dry, test print, repeat until we had it right, can now be done in seconds using the Unsharp Mask in Photoshop or any image editing program that has Unsharp Mask [like Gimp which is free]. The settings vary but for facebook images sized as above the following settings look great; “Amount 50%”, ”Radius 0.7″, “Threshold 1″.
3. Now we save and compress. Save as jpg and compress to “Quality 8″ using “Format Option – Progressive Scans 5″. This give a almost unperceived difference from the uncompressed file but will be about 10x smaller file.
4. Upload to facebook and and choose “uncompressed”, don’t let the X10 that facebook says it will take bother you because we have already compressed the file on our end. Take a look, your image should look great now.
If all these steps seem time consuming… well.. your right. So I made a Photoshop action that would do the first 3 of these automatically. You can load this small action to photoshop and modify as you need. Resize for Facebook- Steve Dean.atn With this you can prep whole folders of images. Facebook lets you upload a lot at the same time so this process is not as long or hard once you set it up.