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High frequency

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Medium Frequency

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Low Frequency

Frequency is a term that’s being used more and more. That’s because new tools offer you more control over frequency than ever before. Noise reduction, sharpening, and HDR all offer unprecedented control over the look and feel of detail in our images. Frequency is used to describe the amount of detail packed into a given area of an image. This is measured by the amount of tonal variation between rows or columns of pixels. Imagine measuring an image with a line that passes across it (horizontally from left to right or vertically from top to bottom). The mean or average tonal value along lines can be charted and then compared to values from other measurement lines, especially those nearest to each other.

In high frequency images you’ll find a great deal of variation between measurements; many lines, thick and/or thin, and lots of texture, coarse and/or fine, rendered with high contrast.

In medium frequency images you’ll find a modest amount of variation between measurements; clear contours with moderate to low amounts of texture in between.

In low frequency images you’ll find very little variation between measurements; characterized by smooth long gradations, often with reduced contrast or flat fields of color.

Many images contain a combination of high, medium, and low frequencies. When enhancing images you can choose to emphasize the dominant frequency or selectively enhance areas with different frequencies for even greater precision. Some software features provide ways to target these frequencies as you adjust them. When software doesn’t provide ways to target frequency, you can design an effect for that image area on a separate layer in Photoshop and mask it from other areas you don’t want to be treated in the same way.

In many cases, you don’t need to measure an image to decide what tack to take. By looking at an image with a discerning eye you’ll quickly be able to tell if and where an image contains high, medium, and/or low frequencies.

Simply being aware of and sensitive to frequency in images will encourage you to be more precise with your image adjustments. With a little extra care your images will all become stronger.

Read more about sharpening here.

Learn more in my digital photography and digital printing workshops.

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I’m co-leading a workshop in Japan through April 9.

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Find out about our Japan photography workshop here.

Richard Benson and Frank Cost discuss important recent transitions in photography at Parsons The New School for Design in NYC during a two day conference The Photographic Universe.

Read my conversation with Richard Benson.

Explore 12 Great Photographs By Great Photographers

Explore The Essential Collection Of Quotes By Photographers.

Explore The Essential Collection Of Documentaries On Photographers.

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To celebrate Women’s History Month,  here’s a selection of the many documentaries on women photographers I’ve collected and shared over the years.

Plus, you’ll find links to quotes and image collections at the end.

Diane Arbus| View

Ruth Bernhard View

Laura Gilpin | View

Nan Goldin | View

Lauren Greenfield | View

Lois Greenfield | View

Annie Leibovitz | View 1 View 2

Sally Mann | View 1 | View 2 | View 3

Mary Ellen Mark | View

Cristina Mittermeier | View

Tina Modotti | View

Sarah Moon | View

Elizabeth Opalenik | View

Cindy Sherman | View

Joyce Tenneson | View 1 | View 2

View more on B&H’s Women Of Influence.

Find quotes by great women photographers here.

Find collections of 12 Great Photographs by women here.

Get to know Lauren Greenfield in these three interviews.

Find out more about Lauren Greenfield here.

View more Photographer’s Videos here.

B&H celebrates International Women’s Day with its Women of Influence series.

Cristina Mittermeier is an accomplished conservationist, wildlife photographer, and author, who has dedicated her life to education and outreach through the stories reflected in her photos. In this episode, Cristina shares her message of conservationism, an appreciation for natural splendor, and the relationship humans have with the wild.

Find out more about Cristina Mittermeier here.

View more Photographer’s Videos here.


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