Book Design and Imaging

Any advice for how to improve image quality?

I just received a Blurb book I made as a test. I’m disappointed in how the images came out. The pictures were mostly old black and white family photos, set to RGB. Overall, the images looked dark. The hilights were not as white as they could have been, the shadows went so black that detail was lost. The contrast level was lower than expected. It seemed that several images were sharpened; although I did not sharpen them. The images were grainier than expected. Maybe that seems like a contradiction: “they were sharpened…they were grainy.” But they did seem to be both: lower resolution, but the edges of peoples’ faces etc. had that digitally sharpened look.

Looking through Blurb’s FAQ, they say that they do zero corrections. If that is the case, what can I do correct some of the above problems? I have a lot of images I want to include, and I don’t want to have to order test book after test book.

Thanks for any suggestions.

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Posted by
geolvis
Mar 26, 2008 9:58am PDT
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geolvis
 

If you are familiar with photo editing programs, you may want to try Adobe Lightroom to work on improving the quality.  There is some chance of improvement in Photoshop also.  Lightroom is the best for improving light and dark value to an image. 

If you are not familiar with photo editing programs, it is best you source out your photographs to someone who can work with them to improve them.  Hope this helps….

www.picturiapress.com 

Posted by
sanadoo
Mar 26, 2008 12:20pm PDT
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sanadoo
 

Hello geolvis;

There’s a few very good threads in the forum here about optimising images for printing B&W images…

Do an "All forums" search for "Black and White" and you’ll come up with a bunch of useful information…

Cheers;

Lee

 

 

Posted by
lkb-28
Mar 27, 2008 3:09am PDT
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lkb-28
 

sanadoo,

I appreciate what you are trying to say something about Adobe Lightroom as opposed to Adobe Photoshop. But I am afraid that you are providing simple information that might led to some misunderstanding about what Lightroom vs Photoshop, and what is the difference between the two.

I feel obligated to offer a clarification between those two. While those two applications are great, but there is significant difference between the two. Photoshop CS3 is a professional-grade high-quality image editing application, while Lightroom is more of “post-production” photography and IS more of “database-like”. You might wonder why I say “database” in Lightroom, because it is capable of, like Apple Aperture 2, manages thousands of photos.

It is true that you do a simple edit in Lightroom (as in Apple Aperture), but not like you can edit images in Photoshop inside Lightroom. You can only make photos looks nicer with simple adjustment in variety features that is included in Lightroom (as in Aperture). “To physically image editing,” you need to use Photoshop (or any other image editing application) to do the real, hard-core image editing process.

On a final note, Lightroom application can run on Macs or Windows, while Apple Aperture only runs on Mac system architecture.

Hope that suggestion, tip and clarification be of assistance and helpful for you and others.

Thanks in advance, Brian

Posted by
brianbonitz
Mar 27, 2008 7:13am PDT
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brianbonitz
 

sanadoo and et al… and those who aren’t aware about “latest” feature being added,

As of 28th of March of this year, Apple Inc released Aperture version 2.1, which means you can only make some fundamental image editing through special image editing plug-in installed inside Aperture app to do fundamental change in image without having to open real physical imaging application such as Adobe Photoshop CS3 app.

I don’t want to be biased against Adobe Lightroom, this also have this similar feature included in Lightroom application using some special Plugin app installed.

Try to understand this only do very fundamental image editing using those pretty neato plug-in little application inside these two awesome apps such as Aperture or Lightroom.

On other hand, for those who need to do indepth imaging process, it has to be done with image editing app such as Adobe Photoshop CS3.

Hopefully that helps to address some untapped insight about this and that.

Have a wonderful happy bookmaking experience! That is going to be awesome and interesting for all of us at Blurb bookmakers like you and myself!

Cheers, Brian

Posted by
brianbonitz
Mar 28, 2008 6:40pm PDT
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brianbonitz
 

Thank you for the suggestions, and I will do a search on “black and white.” Also, I look forward to using the latest version of BookSmart. Maybe it will fix some of my problems.

I perhaps should have been more specific in my initial question. My experience was that I used BookSmart, I previewed my pictures, and they looked reasonably good. However, the same pictures in the physical book were darker, flatter, grainier, and more pixelated than they appeared in BookSmart preview. I can use Photoshop etc. to edit my pictures, but my point is that even if I do that and they look good in BookSmart onscreen, they don’t come out in print that way. BookSmart preview did not give an accurate representation of how the pictures would look in print. It wasn’t even close.

For comparison, I made a test book with iPhoto 08 using the same pictures in my Blurb book. The resulting book pictures looked good—bright, not flat, less noticeable grain, less visible pixelation. The printed pictures matched what I saw in iPhoto book preview. Maybe iPhoto touches up the photos a little in its printing process—I don’t know.

I want those results; but, that said, I want to work with Blurb. So (finally) my questions are: does BookSmart have image rendering tendencies that I should compensate for? Despite Blurb saying that it doesn’t touch the image, does it actually tend to print images on the slightly dark side, or the flatter side? Should I always add a few degrees more contrast to my images, for example, even if it looks good onscreen? Should I lighten an image a couple of degrees, even if it looks good onscreen?

While I am willing to do the extra labor to compensate for BookSmart, I confess I’m frustrated with Blurb that I have to. Why doesn’t Blurb get the same quality image results as iPhoto? I used the same images; I got better results, and I didn’t have to manually tweak them beforehand. If Blurb could match that kind of automatic touched-up image quality—drop in reasonably good image files and, without tweaking, get attractive printed pages—it would have an even more compelling product.

Thanks for any tips, and I will also look at other threads.

Posted by
geolvis
Apr 3, 2008 10:58am PDT
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geolvis