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You can use same technique if photographing someone with an object, such as an award. Get them to hold it up against their face, not on their chest.
When using viewfinder or preview screen really work hard to fill every pixel, moving people around if need be.
Once you have shot there is a lot you can do to improve it. I have yet to see any image straight out of a digital camera that couldn’t be enhanced.
First, make sure you are viewing image on type of monitor that everyone else in organisation is going to use. If using a Macintosh, change gamma setting from 1.8 to 2.2 (the Windows standard). Images displayed on a PC are inherently more contrasty than they look on a Mac if you don’t.
In Photoshop, adjust levels using histogram as a guide. This is better than using brightness and contrast controls. Sometimes it can help to boost saturation by +10 too, depending upon what camera you use.
Then crop image to show what you want, bearing in mind how it will be used on screen. Once cropped, resize image down to 250 pixels or whatever you normally use. If you resize and then crop you will end up with something totally wrong size!
The final step is to apply some Unsharp Masking to image to put back some of definition lost through resizing. It is amazing how many people don’t do this. Typical settings in Photoshop are Amount: 30-100%, Radius 1.5 pixels and Threshold 5-7 levels.
Don’t overdo sharpening. If it looks too gritty, cut Amount down by half.
Finally, save as a JPEG file (not a GIF, which only uses 256 colors, instead of JPEG’s 16.7 million), choosing an appropriate level of compression. When all internet connections were via a modem it was important to get file size incredibly small, but with most intranets you can afford to make them a little bigger.
Using “Save for Web option” you can play with “Quality” control to get a good balance between file size and image quality. You should be able to get a 250 x 200 pixel image down to around 10k with no sign of degradation or artefacts – these are strange squiggles you see in over-compressed images.
Voila! You now have an image that is well composed, tightly cropped, optimized, sharpened and ready for use.
Steve Nichols runs InfoTech Communications (www.infotechcomms.co.uk), which specialises in online communications. He has acted as consultant and trainer for many blue-chip companies including Aviva, AWG, BT, Shell, Standard Life, HBOS, BNFL, AstraZeneca, Diageo, Accenture and Australia New Zealand Bank.