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Precise sharpening can improve almost any image. It helps to know when to apply it, what type of sharpening to apply, how to apply it, and where to apply it.

Forget the filters Sharpen, Sharpen More, and Sharpen Edges. They’re just default settings of Unsharp Mask. Even Smart Sharpen offers few advantages over Unsharp Mask; it’s particularly useful for compensating for trace, but not substantial, amounts of motion blur. My advice? Start with the classic and master it.

Why is a filter that makes images appear sharper called Unsharp Mask? In analog chemical photography, unsharp masks are made with out of focus negatives that are registered with an original positive image. During exposure, the blurring adds contrast around contours, making images appear sharper. Digital unsharp mask works the same way, it uses blurring algorithms to add contrast to contours, again making images appear sharper.

What are the ideal settings for Photoshop’s Unsharp Mask filter? There are no ideal settings that will accommodate all images – or image makers. Settings will be influenced by resolution, ISO, subject, and practitioner. As creative sharpening is primarily an aesthetic decision, individuals are likely to prefer different amounts and types of image sharpness. When it comes to the effects Unsharp Mask generates, there is a general range of believability most viewers share, but whether you play it safe or push the envelope is entirely up to you. You can craft your own sharpening style. To do this, you have to know how the tool works and what to look for.

What are the controls Unsharp Mask offers? Unsharp Mask offers only three controls – Amount, Radius, and Threshold.

What do they do? Amount controls contrast; a higher setting will create a brighter halo, darker line, and contrastier texture. Radius controls how thick halos and lines get. Threshold suppresses the effect in adjacent pixels, base on their relative luminosity; with a very low setting only adjacent pixels that are very close in color will be affected; with a very high setting many more color values will be affected.

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Get this special bundle here.

$49

Regularly $450 – it’s now 89% off.

You save $400.

This offer ends May 24.

Every year, In Focus assembles valuable landscape photograph training videos and ebooks from leading experts into one fabulous bundle offered for a limited time only at a very special price.

Improve your craft and bring your creative artistic vision to new heights with eBooks from Ian Plant

Accelerate your Photography with eBooks from Anne McKinnell

Histogram Exposed Course by Jay & Varina Patel

Adobe Camera RAW Processing tutorials by Joshua Cripps

Includes post processing for Histogram Exposed Video Course case studies

Includes post processing for Essential Filters Course case studies

Focus Stacking/Blending Made Easy by Mark Metternich

10 Pro Tips: To Take Your Photos to the Next Level  by Ryan Dyar

Start-To-Finish Series: Grand Tetons Winter by Chip Phillips

The Complete Photo Workflow: Image Organization & Backup Solutions by Colby Brown

Bonus Offers

In addition, there are many free bonus offers – including Colin Smith’s DJI Phantom 3 – Quick Start Kit.

Plus you can enter to win additional Free Prizes.

Get this special bundle here.

Quotes_Excellence

Enjoy this collection of quotes on excellence.

“Excellence is to do a common thing in an uncommon way.” – Booker T. Washington

“We need to internalize this idea of excellence. Not many folks spend a lot of time trying to be excellent.” – Barack Obama

“It is the nature of man to rise to greatness if greatness is expected of him.” – John Steinbeck

“He who cherishes a beautiful vision, a lofty ideal in his heart, will one day realize it. Dream lofty dreams and as you dream so shall you become.” – James Allen

“It’s a funny thing about life; if you refuse to accept anything but the best, you very often get it.” – W. Somerset Maugham

Read more

Get this special bundle here.

$49

Regularly $450 – it’s now 89% off.

You save $400.

This offer ends May 24.

Every year, In Focus assembles valuable landscape photograph training videos and ebooks from leading experts into one fabulous bundle offered for a limited time only at a very special price.

Improve your craft and bring your creative artistic vision to new heights with eBooks from Ian Plant

Accelerate your Photography with eBooks from Anne McKinnell

Histogram Exposed Course by Jay & Varina Patel

Adobe Camera RAW Processing tutorials by Joshua Cripps

Includes post processing for Histogram Exposed Video Course case studies

Includes post processing for Essential Filters Course case studies

Focus Stacking/Blending Made Easy by Mark Metternich

10 Pro Tips: To Take Your Photos to the Next Level  by Ryan Dyar

Start-To-Finish Series: Grand Tetons Winter by Chip Phillips

The Complete Photo Workflow: Image Organization & Backup Solutions by Colby Brown

Bonus Offers

In addition, there are many free bonus offers – including Colin Smith’s DJI Phantom 3 – Quick Start Kit.

Plus you can enter to win additional Free Prizes.

Get this special bundle here.

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When To Sharpen

The vast majority of photographic images benefit from sharpening.

Before you decide how and when to sharpen images, you need to decide why you’re sharpening them.

The goal of sharpening is to enhance detail rendition without producing distracting visual artifacts.

You’ll find many conflicting philosophies and their accompanying strategies for sharpening images. The seemingly conflicting advice can be hard to reconcile.

Should you sharpen once or multiple times? Should you sharpen differently for different subjects? Should you sharpen differently for different sizes? Should you sharpen differently for different presentation material or supplies? Should you view your files at 100% or 50% screen magnification?

Capture source, output device, substrate or presentation device, presentation size, subject, and artistic intention all play a role in sharpening. The characteristics and solutions for many of these factors can be objectively defined for everyone; at least one of these factors, perhaps the most important, your artistic vision, can only be decided individually.

So, if sharpening is a complex subject, how do you simplify your sharpening workflow to one that’s practical without compromising quality?

Bruce Fraser and Jeff Schewe offer the best advice in their definitive volume on sharpening, Real World Image Sharpening, which I highly recommend you read. Instead of sharpening your images for you, they teach you how to sharpen.

Their philosophy of sharpening is the soundest in the industry, which is why it has been adopted by so many in the industry. They recommend that images be sharpened in a progression of three stages; once for capture sharpening, a second time for creative sharpening, and a third and final time for output sharpening. The objectives and methods of each of these stages vary considerably. When mastered, the whole process can be streamlined to achieve sophisticated results with a minimum investment of time.

Here’s a quick synopsis …

Read more on Creative Image Sharpening here.

Learn more in my Digital Printing and Digital Photography Workshops.

Read more

ebook_cover_DigitalPrintingQuickStart

My new ebook The Digital Printing Quick Start Guide is so popular …

We crashed our server yesterday when we announced it.

We’re back up and running now.

Get your copy here!

It’s free for a limited time only!

PS Manges Color, lighten, lighten shadows

over sharpened

You can easily see the artifacts digital sharpening produces by intentionally overdoing it.

Here are the seven most common digital sharpening artifacts.

1         Noise

2         Exaggerated Texture

3         Visible Light Halos

4         Visible Dark Lines

5         Loss of Highlight Detail

6         Loss of Shadow Detail

7         Increased Saturation

These artifacts can be reduced in one or more ways. Here’s a list of options for each.

1         Noise

Raise Unsharp Mask’s Threshold.

Use High Pass sharpening.

Blur High Pass layers.

Mask select image areas.

2        Exaggerated Texture

Reduce Unsharp Mask’s Amount.

Use High Pass sharpening.

Blur High Pass layers.

Mask select image areas.

3       Visible Light Halos

Reduce Unsharp Mask’s Radius to make halos thinner.

Reduce Unsharp Mask’s Amount to make halos darker.

Set the Blend Mode of the Unsharp Mask filter or layer it is applied to to Darken.

Use High Pass sharpening for softer more feathered contour accentuation.

4        Visible Dark Lines

Reduce Unsharp Mask’s Radius to make halos thinner.

Reduce Unsharp Mask’s Amount to make halos darker.

Set the Blend Mode of the Unsharp Mask filter or layer it is applied to to Lighten.

Use High Pass sharpening for softer more feathered contour accentuation.

5         Loss of Highlight Detail

Use a sharpened layer’s Layer Styles / Blend If sliders to recover it.

Mask the highlights.

6        Loss of Shadow Detail

Use the Blend If sliders in Layer Styles to recover it.

Mask the shadows.

7         Increased Saturation

Change the blend mode of the filter or sharpened layer to Luminosity.

Desaturate High Pass layers.

Read more about sharpening here.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

Read more

012_Sturges_
Enjoy this collection of photographs by Jock Sturges.

Read our conversation here.

View 12 Great Photographs Collections here.

Read more in The Essential Collection Of Photographers’ Quotes.

View more in The Essential Collection Of Photographers Videos.

The following collection contains nudity. Proceed at your own discretion. Read more

010_Sturges_Jock_Sturges_Toned-A270_sm

Enjoy this collection of quotes by photographer Jock Sturges.

“That’s my ambition: that you look at the pictures and realize what complex, fascinating, interesting people every single one of my subjects is.” – Jock Sturges

“Physical beauty is such a strange thing.” – Jock Sturges

“Different members of different cultures will think that some things are beautiful.” – Jock Sturges

“The truth is that from birth on we are, to one extent or another, a fairly sensual species.” – Jock Sturges

“As soon as you forbid something, you make it extraordinarily appealing. You also bring shame in as a phenomenon.” – Jock Sturges

“If somebody’s pointing a trembling finger at your pants and saying you shouldn’t be doing that, follow that finger back, go up the arm and look at the head that’s behind it, because there’s almost always something fairly woolly in there.” – Jock Sturges

“A virulent, aggressive minority has decided that Americans don’t know themselves what it is they should see, and need to be protected by people who are wiser than they are, even if they are only a tiny sliver of the population.” – Jock Sturges

“That dichotomy between the public consumption of the work and my intent and practice in making it is an uneasy one for me, on occasion.” – Jock Sturges

“I found myself serving a sentence of public denial from the very second the raid on my apartment happened.” – Jock Sturges

“I’m guilty of extraordinary naivete, I suppose. But it’s a naivete that I really don’t want to abandon, not even now.” – Jock Sturges

“But empirically I’ve come to understand that my photographs really don’t do any harm.” – Jock Sturges

“I became good at defending myself, but as far as I was concerned, that was a transient skill.” – Jock Sturges

“The world is shrinking as we see more and more of it in the media, and the more we see of the world, the smaller we are, the more aware we are of how insignificant any one of us is.” – Jock Sturges

“We live in an age where anonymity is growing in magnitude like a bomb going off.” – Jock Sturges

“Every child is going to grow up. You can see it happen in the books: They get older and older and belong to themselves to a greater and greater extent.” – Jock Sturges

“Before, I’d photograph anything. I didn’t think there was anything more or less obscene about any part of the body.” – Jock Sturges

“Any artist that’s involved in their work is inevitably going to have a focus in what they do.” – Jock Sturges

“I’m an artist that’s attracted to a specific way of seeing and a way of being.” – Jock Sturges

“I know the families that I photograph extremely well, and I’ve known them for a very long time.” – Jock Sturges

“All my life I’ve taken photographs of people who are completely at peace being what they were in the situations I photographed them in.” – Jock Sturges

“I don’t photograph any two people who are remotely the same.” – Jock Sturges

“I’d rather get back to making art than talk about it.” – Jock Sturges

Read our conversation here.

View 12 Great Photographs Collections here.

Read more in The Essential Collection Of Photographers’ Quotes.

View more in The Essential Collection Of Photographers Videos.

“This collaborative dance company is acclaimed for its mix of humor, invention, and drama. Drawing inspiration from biology (how many dance troupes would name themselves after a fungus that thrives in cow dung?), Pilobolus has created a dance vocabulary all its own.”

“Two Pilobolus dancers perform “Symbiosis.” Does it trace the birth of a relationship? Or the co-evolution of symbiotic species? Music: “God Music,” George Crumb; “Fratres,” Arvo Part; “Morango Almost a Tango,” Thomas Oboe Lee.”

View more inspiring performances here.


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