Psych
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Technological advances, A.net and editing

Fri Oct 26, 2018 7:33 am

Hello Colleagues.

It feels like a very long time since I have posted a thread here in this Forum.

I would be very interested to hear others’ thoughts about an issue that has been presenting me with difficulties recently - editing photos for the site using an iMac with high resolution screen.

Over the many years submitting to the site I have developed a workflow for my editing which gave me decent results and some confidence that, broadly speaking, what I saw on my computer screen was similar to the image being reviewed by the screeners. So I would tend to agree with screeners about issues such as sharpening, colour etc.

I am now the proud owner of an iMac, with its wonderfully clear, sharp, high resolution retina screen. Lovely to look at photos on. But there is a problem - my previous recent 1400px images for A.net look little bigger than postage stamps on this screen (I exaggerate for effect). There is no way that I could now edit a photo to upload to the site at such a size and have any confidence at all in key elements of the edit - primarily sharpening (being a believer in the importance of accurately judging/adding sharpening to the image following resizing, not before). The screen appears to have very good colour/contrast etc, so generally photos look lovely and sharp. When you view a 1400px image with the native resolution it appears so small on the screen that it is simply not possible to make any kind of accurate assessment of whether the image is sharp or soft; whether there are any jaggies in particular area etc. If I were a screener there would be no way I could do that job using a new Mac.

How have others coped with this issue? And on a wider point - though I am not aware of the statistics, my guess is that an increasing proportion of viewers to the site are using social media/phones and tablets to view photos - where such a thing as the precision in sharpening required by the screeners, according to the site's acceptance criteria, is almost an irrelevance. I do not intend to question the high standards the site holds dear in terms of these acceptance criteria, but wonder - in this age of 5K retina screens and people generally using small screens to view websites - what issues this brings up in the minds of others.

Cheers.

Paul
 
Silver1SWA
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Re: Technological advances, A.net and editing

Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:34 am

Hi Paul, great to hear from you. Hope all is well.

This topic has been of interest for me for a few years now and it’s the main reason I do not upload here anymore. 100% of my computer/internet usage these days is on a device with a Apple Retina display (iPhone, iPad, iMac and MacBook) and the overwhelming majority of my time is on my phone.

Back during my brief stint as a photo screener I had just purchased a 5k Retina iMac and I had to keep a second, 5+ year-old monitor just so I could edit/upload/screen on this website and after a while I came to the conclusion this doesn’t make sense for me anymore.

My time in front of a computer has diminished greatly. I hardly even use Photoshop anymore. I’m either using my iPhone X or if I do shoot with my D750 I usually just send to my phone via WiFi, tweak using Lightroom mobile and upload to Instagram. Seems to be the direction many hobbyists are going.
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KICT
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Re: Technological advances, A.net and editing

Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:57 am

It is my understanding that websites that weren't optimized for "Retina" / 4K displays were being penalized by Google et al. in search results. While the site re-design a few years back did fix that particular issue, people are still editing/uploading in lower resolution! It is a shame because I think this is one area that A.net and other similar sites could "compete" with social media. Folks buy all of this expensive equipment only to compress and edit it "down to size" as if it were 2004. A shame really...
 
vikkyvik
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Re: Technological advances, A.net and editing

Thu Nov 01, 2018 3:10 pm

KICT wrote:
It is my understanding that websites that weren't optimized for "Retina" / 4K displays were being penalized by Google et al. in search results. While the site re-design a few years back did fix that particular issue, people are still editing/uploading in lower resolution! It is a shame because I think this is one area that A.net and other similar sites could "compete" with social media. Folks buy all of this expensive equipment only to compress and edit it "down to size" as if it were 2004. A shame really...


It has historically been difficult to get shots accepted at large resolutions (say, larger than 1400). So not entirely photographers' faults.
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cpd
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Re: Technological advances, A.net and editing

Thu Nov 01, 2018 6:41 pm

The other problem with images too large is that it makes them easy to rip off (for unscrupulous types) and it also eats up bandwidth for downloads and the website page weight goes up.
 
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cpd
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Re: Technological advances, A.net and editing

Thu Nov 01, 2018 10:47 pm

Silver1SWA wrote:
My time in front of a computer has diminished greatly. I hardly even use Photoshop anymore. I’m either using my iPhone X or if I do shoot with my D750 I usually just send to my phone via WiFi, tweak using Lightroom mobile and upload to Instagram. Seems to be the direction many hobbyists are going.


This looks to reflect the general trend. People want processes to be as smooth and fast as possible. I also don't use Photoshop much - any photos I take get the minimum of batch processing and that's it. I don't know about others, but I have better/more enjoyable things to do than sitting around applying edits to photos for ages.

As for browsing this site, I mostly use a phone for that.
 
JKPhotos
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Re: Technological advances, A.net and editing

Sat Nov 03, 2018 5:11 pm

vikkyvik wrote:
KICT wrote:
It is my understanding that websites that weren't optimized for "Retina" / 4K displays were being penalized by Google et al. in search results. While the site re-design a few years back did fix that particular issue, people are still editing/uploading in lower resolution! It is a shame because I think this is one area that A.net and other similar sites could "compete" with social media. Folks buy all of this expensive equipment only to compress and edit it "down to size" as if it were 2004. A shame really...


It has historically been difficult to get shots accepted at large resolutions (say, larger than 1400). So not entirely photographers' faults.


That's it. People have heard "better smaller" or "please upload at 1.200px" too often. Sometimes even without obvious reasons.
I can remember getting a shot at 1.700px being rejected last year with the comment "not enough quality for this enormous size". It did baffle me really that with todays resolutions someone was seeing 1.700 px as "enormous", no matter if the shot in question had the quality or not.

Still all I can say is that the process might be slowly but it is definitely improving, I mostly upload at 1.600 px or larger and didn't have "better smaller" in quite a while. And I did have conversations with screeners that were rather encouraging concerning " larger" sizes. So I could only encourage others to do so as well.
Personally even on my (not ultra-large) 1.920 px editing screen (and that's far away from Retina / 4K) I have touble to edit anything smaller than 1300 px as I don't see any details anymore.

It has to be noted though that others prefer to keep it small for copyright reasons.
 
Psych
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Re: Technological advances, A.net and editing

Sat Nov 03, 2018 9:23 pm

Thanks for the comments.

Something else I have now noted, having had a few 1600px photos just accepted: when I open up such images on the Mac, the large versions of the images are displayed relatively large on the computer screen - i.e. they have been significantly upscaled. The actual 1600px image is about half the size as that taken from the site itself). This results in the image not looking great - certainly not sharp. On my iPad - with a 2048 pixel screen (so plenty to accommodate a 1600px image) - click on the large version of a photo on the site and the screen only accommodates a half to 2/3rds of the image. So it is being upscaled once again.

Interesting that it is proving difficult to view images at top quality - certainly not the quality I would hope for, having put the effort into the editing process.

Paul
 
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dvincent
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Re: Technological advances, A.net and editing

Sat Nov 03, 2018 11:46 pm

Psych wrote:
Thanks for the comments.

Something else I have now noted, having had a few 1600px photos just accepted: when I open up such images on the Mac, the large versions of the images are displayed relatively large on the computer screen - i.e. they have been significantly upscaled. The actual 1600px image is about half the size as that taken from the site itself). This results in the image not looking great - certainly not sharp. On my iPad - with a 2048 pixel screen (so plenty to accommodate a 1600px image) - click on the large version of a photo on the site and the screen only accommodates a half to 2/3rds of the image. So it is being upscaled once again.

Interesting that it is proving difficult to view images at top quality - certainly not the quality I would hope for, having put the effort into the editing process.

Paul


This is because of how handling of HiDPI works. In browsers that support HiDPI, there are 1x and 2x resources. 1x is for "original" or non-retina, and 2x is for retina. as it is twice the number of pixels but will be displayed at the same "physical" size for twice the visible resolution.

If a site is set up to provide alts (alternative high enough resolution images) for HiDPI, a browser like Safari will display it in its native resolution or downscale it to fit the viewport. But if the image is too small relative to the viewport, it will be upscaled size using bicubic upscaling. So if you have an image at 1600x1200 pixels and a viewport that's defined as 1600x1200, on a retina screen the image will be upscaled to 3200x2400.

This upscaling can be avoided by doing one of two things:

1. Provide a 2x sized alt. This is frequently used because you can optimize the image for the proper display. The 1x image would be 1600x1200, the 2x image would be 3200x2400, and the browser decides which to use based on the user's screen pixel density.

2. A single 3200x2400 image is provided, and the viewport size is specced at 1600x1200. The web browser will automatically downscale the higher resolution image on a 1x browser so it does not appear massively large, but the 2x browser will simply display the image "as is."

The upscaling is a compatibility feature of these browsers because if it didn't upscale "lower res" images, websites would break.

For a.net to get the benefit of "retina" displays, it would require a radical change to the site's architecture that users and screeners are not used to.

Screeners are used to working at 1x, on displays that usually have densities in the range of 96 DPI. A 1200px image on this type of screen looks reasonably sized. A 1700px image on a 1920x1200 takes up nearly the entire width of the screen, and because of the low pixel density, doesn't look "as good." But if it was set to be a 2x image, it would take up 850 points of width, being much smaller, denser, and appearing sharper without as much use of sharpening tools. If you screened images on a Retina screen, users would need to provide a higher resolution file. Details (and flaws) would be more easily visible but the overall IQ would appear better since you're not throwing away actual image detail when downsampling to the sizes we're used to submitting.

This is much more like printing, where your source file gets printed at a certain raster resolution. Let's take an original file from my a99ii. It's 42 MP, at 7976W x 5317H pixels. At 360 DPI this produces a 22.16 x 14.77 inch print. You can reduce that destination DPI to produce a larger print, or increase it to make a smaller print with no sampling loss.

Or, in other photographic terms, it's like having two 35mm format sensors, one at 6 MP and the other at 24MP. Using the exact same lens on the same position, you'll end up with two images, but the 24MP image has double the linear resolution (3000x2000 vs 6000x4000). If you printed the 6MP image at the same destination size as the 24 MP one, it will appear visibly less sharp than the 24 MP one... because the 24 MP one has double the resolution for the same area of image.

FWIW, Lightroom and Photoshop handle these things on-screen behind the scenes for you. That's why the 100% zoom on a 212 DPI Retina screen is "half" the physical size of 100% zoom on a 106dpi non-retina display.

For a.net to truly support retina displays, people would have to start submitting images at resolutions they might not be comfortable with. The old 1024 or 1200 would go away for a 2048px or 2400px native file displayed at 1024 or 1200 points. But that amount of resolution is perfectly usable for prints... so the images would need to be heavily watermarked so as not to be swiped. The upload rules right now won't even let someone go up to that 2x size, so the point is moot at the moment. But these will be the pitfalls of using a higher resolution screen and unless the site gives us a 1x/2x toggle you'll be seeing images with the 2x upsampling.
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McG1967
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Re: Technological advances, A.net and editing

Sun Nov 04, 2018 7:57 am

A tip I learned for editing using a retina screen.

If you export at 72dpi for a normal screen, export at 144 dpi for a retina screen to check the sharpness.
You could have a preset set up to export at 72dpi for upload to Anet and other sites and one for 144dpi for checking sharpness.
 
dutchspotter1
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Re: Technological advances, A.net and editing

Sun Nov 04, 2018 9:49 am

JKPhotos wrote:
Still all I can say is that the process might be slowly but it is definitely improving, I mostly upload at 1.600 px or larger and didn't have "better smaller" in quite a while. And I did have conversations with screeners that were rather encouraging concerning " larger" sizes. So I could only encourage others to do so as well.
Personally even on my (not ultra-large) 1.920 px editing screen (and that's far away from Retina / 4K) I have touble to edit anything smaller than 1300 px as I don't see any details anymore.

It has to be noted though that others prefer to keep it small for copyright reasons.


I also have a 1920x1200 screen and I have uploaded all of my photos at 1200x800. Photos larger than this resolution wouldn't allow me to view the entire picture on this website (using Win7 and Chrome) as I would miss a small part at the top or bottom of the photo and don't want to scroll up and down.
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Psych
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Re: Technological advances, A.net and editing

Tue Nov 06, 2018 1:55 pm

Thanks Dan for that very detailed explanation for what is going on.

Now I have the Mac I am using Safari, which obviously supports HiDPI. On my previous PC I was using Windows 7, and Firefox, which explains why a 1600px image nicely fills the 1920px screen that I had there.

I am presuming from this discussion that it would be incompatible to be a screener at the site on a Mac?

Cheers.

Paul
 
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dvincent
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Re: Technological advances, A.net and editing

Wed Nov 07, 2018 2:55 am

No, you'd just need an external, non-retina monitor.
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