Sizing images for upload to Facebook

Wedding rings-9677

The struggle is real…you spend hours editing and perfecting your images only to see them mangled into a blurry pixelated mess when you share them on Facebook. As frustrating as that is, I get it…Facebook has nearly 2 billion users, all uploading photos of their latest lunch, their puppies and kitties and that thing they just saw at Wal-Mart…the amount of space that takes up is astronomical. I don’t even want to think about it! So they HAVE to compress all the joy out of your carefully crafted photos.

There are ways to minimize the damage though, by preparing them yourself to stay within guidelines that keep the evil FB compression bots from squashing your files.

That link is to Facebook’s help page for uploading images. If you read it carefully there are a few key points to remember: Pixel size, File size and colorspace. For the best possible results I use the larger pixel dimensions. Here’s the export dialog in Lightroom as I set it up for Facebook images:

The key to Facebook joy
File settings in the Lightroom Export for uploading to Facebook.

You can see I’ve set the file type to JPEG (I know a lot of sites recommend using PNG, and I do that as well, but I’ve honestly never noticed much difference between the two…other settings are more important, in my opinion.)

Color Space – I always keep this set at sRGB. If you’ve ever noticed color shifts between your computer and your phone and someone else’s computer, this is due to both the calibration of those screens and the color space shifts that occur. the sRGB setting here helps to minimize those shifts.

File Size – Since Facebook recommends keeping the file size below 100K, this is the easiest way to make sure you stay within that boundary. Check the box next to “Limit file size to:” and enter 100 K. This is probably the single most important step to making sure those evil squash-bots leave your photo alone.

Image size – Here is where you have the option to set the pixel dimensions of your image. Typically, as mentioned above I like to have as much detail as possible, so use the highest recommended number from their list: 2048. Set the “resize to fit” options to Long Edge (so the longest side of your photo will be sized to 2048 pixels, and the short size will be adjusted proportionally).  Enter 2048 pixels and set the resolution to 72 pixels per inch.

Image Sharpening – this final step is just a little extra punch. I typically have already sharpened my images, sop for this I keep it set to a low setting for screen.

Aside from this, the rest of the settings on your export are up to you. Save the image somewhere appropriate, apply a watermark if desired and then feed that image up to the Mighty Facebook!!!

For reference – there are options within Lightroom for publishing directly to sites like Facebook. Setting up a publish service is a post for another day…

Enjoy, and let me know in comments if there are any questions, or if you notice the bots may have changed and are attacking your photos again…





Shooting Fireworks

Fireworks Photography
Fireworks display off the shore of Lake Monroe, Indiana

Ok, so it’s that time of year – the annual celebration of our Independence. Which means nearly everyone with an interest in photography will be setting up to take some shots of the local fireworks displays, or maybe even just their own little family show with the kiddos. If you’ve never done it, or never really gotten the results you want, Here a few helpful tips to get you there…


  1. Tripod – Typically, if you’re wanting to get the trails and full ‘explosion’ of a firework, you will be shooting with shutter speeds of a few seconds or more. A sturdy tripod is a must to keep the entire image from being blurry.
  2. Shutter Release – This really goes hand-in-hand with the tripod. IT’s not entirely necessary, as you can set a shutter timer release, but it does help ensure a steady shot.
  3. Camera with Manual settings – yup, you will need to be able to balance the shutter speed and aperture manually for best results. While some cell phones even have fireworks settings that can yield decent results, to make sure you get what you want, having the ability to control everything separately is a huge benefit.
  4. Wide angle lens – Depending on your preferences, a good wide-angle zoom lens really helps make sure you get the entire display and some of the scene in your photo.
  5. Charged batteries – you may or may not need to bring a spare, but at least make sure your main camera battery is charged before heading to the display. Nothing kills the fun quicker than setting everything up only to find out your camera is dad after a few shots.
  6. Memory card(s) – similarly, just make sure to pack a memory card or two 🙂
  7. Flashlight – it will be dark. Bring a flashlight to help you in setting up, adjusting and tearing down your equipment.

One of the most helpful tips I know of is this – Scout the location. Whether you do this earlier the same day or even a few days before, it is super helpful to know where the fireworks will be launched form, and what view you can get from any certain location. Check things out, and try to get there early on the day of the show to claim your spot. Keep in mind the possibility of another photographer or viewer deciding your spot is awesome too…

For settings – it really can vary a lot by location and environment. In a city the ambient city lights can have a big impact.

  1. ISO – many people initially think that since it will be dark out, a high ISO setting is necessary. The fireworks are BRIGHT though, so really you can get good results even at 200. I usually start there and then decide with the first few test shots if I need to bump it up.
  2. Aperture – I usually set this at f8 to f9 and go from there. unless you really want to get some creative Depth of Field, the lower apertures really just make it more difficult to get perfect focus
  3. Shutter Speed – again, as mentioned earlier a few seconds is best for capturing the whole trailing stream of a firework launching and then exploding.

For reference, the photo at the top of this article was shot with an ISO of 800, F11, at 4 seconds. I used a Canon 5d mkIII and the 24-105 f4L lens.



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