About This Site

Welcome to Amazing Tap Handles - The Tap Handle Museum. Here you will find photos of the Museum's collection of beer taps, along with brewery info. Have a look around the Museum, and use the contact form in sidebar to leave me feedback about the site, talk about taps, or if you have a rare tap handle you'd like to sell to the Museum. I'd love to hear from you! Please, no inquires about buying taps - they're not for sale.

Copyright Legalities

Photos or tap descriptions used in this blog may not be misrepresented as your own. Photos may not be used for financial gain whatsoever, as the uniqueness of the photo would unfairly associate a seller's product and reputation with this site. Tap descriptions may be used word for word as long as this blog is cited as the source, and a link is provided to this site.

Brewery history may not be used for any reason without citing the blog post or original source from which it was taken, and providing a link to such.

Failure to follow the guidelines above is a violation of Copyright Law, which protects original works of ownership.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Photo Enhancement

Maintaining this blog is quite time-consuming, even more so now that I take multiple photos of taps. For those who are curious about the inner workings of the blog and the way I manage photos, you may enjoy this post. Other may have no interest and will want to skip it. But if you are at all curious about some of what goes on behind-the-scenes, click through to read on as I share some of my techniques...
This will be a little technical, but the photos along the way should help guide you. Although having a working knowledge of Photoshop will greatly increase your understanding of the topic covered, it isn't really necessary to follow along.

You may recall from some earlier posts about my challenges in finding an adequate light source for the new display. I ended up choosing a halogen work light. The light is mounted to a stand so that I am able to point it in any direction I choose, and the height is adjustable as well. The light cannot be placed directly in front of the tap handle, however, because it would be in the way of my camera when taking the photographs, so it is placed off to one side. This has the effect of throwing shadows across the opposite side of the tap. Ideally I'd want a second light placed on the opposite side while I stand between the two lights and snap photos - it would eliminate the shadow effects. Unfortunately I don't have the space to set up a second light at this time.

The second issue with getting great photographs is the brightness of the halogen bulb. All of that excessive brightness can cause blooms of light reflecting off the tap, especially in white or metallic colored areas. It also has the effect of "washing out" the photo, preventing blacks and colors from showing up properly. To illustrate this, take a look at the photo of the Dogfish Head Uber Shark below:

This photo will look a little different on everyone's monitor, due to monitor capabilities and settings. But if you keep in mind that the background curtain is supposed to be a reddish-copper color (it's more reddish-pink in the photo), and the wood base is a cherry red (more brown in the photo), you'll understand how the light is washing out colors. The waves on the base of the shark are a brilliant blue, and the ferrule is a metallic purple, but again the colors are muted. The good news is that all the color information is there. What is needed is some color and contrast manipulation to reduce the abundance of light and restore proper hues and contrast. However, touching up every single photo seems time-consuming, right? Then add in the need to downsize the resolution of each photo so that the file size isn't huge, and the task becomes far too much work on an individual image level...

Fortunately, Photoshop has a number of handy tools available to make quick changes to each photo, and even a way to batch some of the commands. The first step is to bring all of the photos into Photoshop so that they can be worked on. It looks something like this:

There are 69 photos open at once. You can see the photo of the Uber Shark on top. The first thing I'm going to do is reduce the exposure and increase color saturation. This will help get rid of some of that excess light and also the "washing out" of the colors. That leaves me with this:

Next I'm going to edit "Curves". Think of curves in Photoshop as a balance between tones. You can adjust white levels, black levels, contrast, color saturation, shadows, highlights, and so on. But the most useful feature is being able to save my settings so that I can apply them to every single photo. So all I have to do is go into levels and load my preset values when working on an image. It's quick and easy, giving me the results below:

I'm going to adjust another series of curves now, but in a different color space. A color space is how colors and contrast are viewed by a monitor, printer, scanner, etc. The standard color space for monitors is RGB (red-blue-green), and the standard for most printers is CMYK (cyan-magenta-yellow-black). Up to this point I've been working in the RGB color space, but now I'm going to switch to one called LAB (lightness-a channel-b channel). The reason for this is that LAB is much better at setting the proper contrast and hues than other color spaces are, helping render my accurate hues and making the image "pop". So I switch to LAB, select "Curves", and load my saved settings. Finally I apply an Unsharp Mask (which, unlike it sounds, sharpens the image) to bring out small details. This is now my final result on the right, with the original image on the left (both rotated so that they are easier to view):

You can see in the image to the right that the hues are much richer and more vibrant (as well as more accurate), and the "washed out" look is gone. I minimize the shark image and move on to the next image. It actually goes pretty fast...adjust exposure, adjust saturation, load curves settings, switch to LAB, load the LAB curves settings, apply the Unsharp Mask, minimize and move on.

Once I have edited every image, the final adjustment is to change the resolution for all the images at once. To do this, I select Scripts and choose Image Processor. I then enter in the horizontal and vertical measurements and where I want to save the photos. Once I click on Run, Photoshop does the rest, saving all 69 images with the settings and resolution I've chosen, in a jpeg format. It takes about a minute to run, and then it's finished. One final step is to rotate all the images 90 degrees clockwise (which I can do within Windows), and now they are ready to be uploaded for the reader's enjoyment.

I hope that wasn't too boring and gives you insight into some of the behind-the-scenes work that goes into the blog...

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