Shooting for eBay: Page 5

Editing Your Seller’s Photos
Given the sophistication of the editing and enhancing skills of many of the members of the photographic community, you would think that the images they use to sell their items on eBay would be second to none. Sadly this is not always the case. Use the following steps to ensure that your eBay photos have the wow factor and always stand out from the crowd.

Step 1 Adjust brightness and Contrast
As with most image-correction workflows you should start off your editing with some global changes to the brightness and contrast of the picture. Rather than applying these changes directly to the pixels it is better to employ a Levels adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Levels) for the enhancing, to protect your original image. Improve your shadow and highlight points by dragging in the white and black input sliders towards the centre of the histogram until they meet the first group of pixels. Next adjust the overall brightness of the photo by moving the midtone input slider to the left to lighten and right to darken.

Step 2 Correct Colour Problems

Even with carefully chosen white balance settings it is sometimes necessary to remove an unwanted colour cast from the photo. Adding a Colour Balance adjustment layer (Layer > New Adjustment Layer > Color Balance) to the layers stack provides a non-destructive method for removing any unwanted hues from shadows, midtones and/or highlights. Simply drag the slider away from the cast colour – if the picture is a little yellow then drag the slider towards the blue end of the yellow/blue control.

Step 3 Minimise Background Distractions

If you’ve managed to capture the photos on a plain seamless background then you may not need this step. If not, here’s how to minimise distracting areas in the background. Start by selecting a poor background element using one of the selection tools such as the Lasso or Magic Wand. Pay particular attention to the quality of the edge selection. Add a small feather (Select > Feather > 1 pixel) to soften the selection edge and then invert the selection (Select > Invert). Now you can add a blur (Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur) to this background section to defocus any distractions or, in the case of the example, run the Dust and Scratches filter over the whole area to remove any marks.

Step 4 Remove or Replace Background
With the background still selected you can take this process even further by replacing the background altogether with a solid colour or gradient. Again we will use a non-destructive approach for this change. With the selection still active add a new Gradient or Solid Colour fill layer (Layer> New Fill Layer). The selection will now be used to create a mask for the fill layer ensuring that the original pixels are preserved in the image layer beneath.

Step 5 Resize and Sharpen to Suit

When eBay hosts your listing photo it automatically creates multiple copies of your picture at different sizes to suit the web pages. The standard sizes are 400, 200 and 96 pixels (on the longest edge of the photo), with 800 pixels being used for the Supersize option. To get the best results from this system you should resize large photos down to approximately 1024 x 768 pixels before uploading. Use the Image > Image Resize command with the Resample > Bicubic Sharper option selected for this task. Next sharpen the smaller picture with the Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen filter.

Step 6 Change Formats and Save

EBay Picture Services accepts pictures in the following formats: JPEG, BMP, GIF, TIFF and PNG and so, as the last step in the process before uploading, you will need to save the listing photo in a suitable file format. Use the File > Save For Web feature to save a copy of the original in the JPEG format. Adjust the Quality setting in the dialogue to balance the detail and level of compression (file size) of the picture. Ensure that the final file is no greater than 2Mb in size as this is the upper limit for uploads for the eBay Basic Picture Services website.

Getting Your Pictures Online
When adding photos to your listing, you have the choice of using your own web space for hosting the photos, or getting eBay to do this for you. This picture hosting service is called the eBay Picture Services, comes in two flavours (Basic and Enhanced) and provides an easy way to host your pictures. You can upload one photo free but there are also options for adding more photos, have them displayed as a slide show (Picture Show feature) or in greater detail and at a bigger size (Supersize Image option). See the eBay Picture Services Fees section, http://pages.ebay.co.uk/help/sell/fees.html

Five Steps to Selling on eBay

After photographing then editing your sales pictures it is now time to get on with selling. Simply follow these steps.

1. Open a Seller’s Account

Click on the Sell link at the top of the eBay page and then choose the Create a Seller’s Account link. You will then be asked to verify your identity with a credit/debit card and banking details and be shown the fees associated with the listing.

2. Prepare Your Item for Sale

Do your research. Find out what similar items have sold for and how they have been described via the Complete Items search on eBay (go to the Search menu then Advanced Search, then select Completed Items). Be realistic about the current value of the item, its condition and the price at which you want to sell.

3. Create Your eBay Listing

Choose a format to use for selling – Auction, Fixed Price or Buy It Now. Capture, enhance and optimise your photos. Decide on a listing title, description and duration (1, 2, 5, 7, or 10 days). Add these details into the Sell Your Item Form which is displayed when you select the Sell button at the top of the eBay page.

4. Add in Pricing and Postage Details

The next step is to determine the reserve or starting price for your item. Also you need to select what method you will use to accept payment – cheque, credit card, money order or the online payment system PayPal. Now include the postage costs so buyers will know exactly how much the whole transaction will cost. At this point, decide if you want the option to ship internationally.

5. Manage the Sales Process

Once your auction is up and running, use the options in the 'My eBay' section of the site (you need to register and log-in to access this area) to track all the bidding and sales activity. Once the listing time is complete, organise the collection of the payment and send the item to the winning bidder.