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Masterclass: Sharpening  
User currently offlineIL76 From Netherlands, joined Jan 2004, 2237 posts, RR: 50
Posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Ok... A masterclass. Good idea.
We can make a topic about every aspect of editing, like levels, cropping, contrast/saturation, cloning (!), etc.

Let me start with sharpening. Lets take it from here and everyone can add his/her own experiences or difficulties, but try to keep it neat and informative. Don't repeat things that have been mentioned in a previous post and no replies with "I do that too" or such.  Smile

The different steps/actions (when all other editing has been done):

- Sharpening on the unresized image. You can sharpen the original sized image lightly before doing the final sharpening on the resized image. It asks for some experimenting, but this step is not a must. You can do without it.
Fred Miranda sells Photoshop plugins which are supposedly dedicated for different types of cameras. This procedure sharpens only the (black and white) lightness layer (can't think of the correct name right now) and selects only areas with sufficient detail to sharpen. A timeconsuming process if you'd do this by hand. A very handy tool indeed.

- Selection. Deselect anything with very little detail, like the sky and dark/black shadows (which is also what the FM plugin does described above). These will only get grainy when sharpened. Use the magic wand tool to select these areas and invert the selection. Then you can start sharpening.
I notice many people don't do this, I see a lot of pictures with quite awful (unneccesary) grainy skies for example.

- Layers. Sharpen on a "duplicate copy" layer. Whenever jaggies appear, you can erase them with the eraser tool (set at small, soft diameter of +/- 8 pixels f.e.). You can also erase any grain and white halos (the white lines that appear on very contrasty edges) that appeared due to the sharpening. Heavily jagged images are a thing of the past if you use this trick.
You can create even more layers if you want to have more grades of sharpening in one picture. That's for the more advanced editors.  Wink

- USM. This is a tough one... I think just about everyone uses a different setting here, so you'll just have to figure out what works best for you. I've heard people use
-> one pass of 500, 0.2, 0 + another pass at a lower setting
-> 2, 3 or more passes of 50, 0.3, 0
-> 2 or 3 passes of 200, 0.2, 0 (which I use at the moment)
-> etc...
I think many more setting will follow from different photographers, there is no "best solution" if you ask me.

So... I'm sure there is stuff that I missed regarding sharpening, so let's hear it. I hope this'll turn into a very constructive and educational thread.  Smile

Cheers,
Eduard

24 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineQ330 From Australia, joined Dec 2003, 1460 posts, RR: 22
Reply 1, posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Great thread, Eduard! Hopefully it will be the first in a very informative series.

My USM settings are usually 0.3 and 0 for radius and threshold, but I adjust the amount instead of doing multiple passes. This method obviously allows finer control over the sharpening amount.

I'm wondering if, for example, doing 2 passes at 50 is the same as doing one at 100. If anyone knows if doing multiple passes makes a difference, I'd love to find out.

-Q



Long live the A330!
User currently offlineSulman From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 2035 posts, RR: 33
Reply 2, posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Great idea Eduard,

I'd add that the sharpening settings listed work really nicely, and it's always worth trying the different settings on the same image to see what affect it has.

A quick summary on the USM magic, in layman terms:

1) Creates a duplicate image that is blurred - hence 'unsharp' mask.
2) This is then compared with the original. Where there is a difference in pixel brightness for the same coordinate, this can be considered an 'edge'.
3) Increasing the difference in this brightness enhances the perception of sharpness.

So how do the usm Settings relate to this? In the same order...

1) The 'bluriness' (scientific term) of the unsharp image is determined by the radius setting. If you increase this, you're instructing USM to look for edges over a larger area.

2) 'Threshold' sets the amount of difference USM needs to detect an edge. Set this at zero and even very low contrast areas will be included.

3) The percentage setting simply dictates how much USM exaggurates this difference, to give the effect of sharpness.

500/0.2/2 is a great setting on a 1024 wide image, because the small radius combined with an aggressive percentage results in only the fine detail being sharpened.


Areas to watch out for on images:

1) As Eduard said, Sky. Don't sharpen sky.

2) Gap between flaps and wing tends to be aliased pretty horribly by most DSLR's anyway, even without sharpening - sometimes you can even get the 'piano wire' illusion (short wires connecting the flap to the wing), not to mention jaggies. Always use the eraser here.

3) Sharpening halos around wheels. Tyres are black, sky is blue. What happens if USM darkens the black and lightens the blue sufficiently? Halo. Use the eraser tool. Likewise, watch for the same effect between the fuselage and a dark blue / grey skie, and engine nacelles.

4) Gap detail between control surfaces on wings - spoiler slots, ailerons etc - breeding ground for jaggies.


Cheers

James



It takes a big man to admit they are wrong, and I am not a big man.
User currently offlineOly720man From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 6604 posts, RR: 11
Reply 3, posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 4 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Great idea. However, wouldn't it be better to put things like this under "articles" or something instead of in a forum that in a while will be archived and newcomers won't be aware it's actually there.


wheat and dairy can screw up your brain
User currently offlinePitchul From Luxembourg, joined Jan 2005, 121 posts, RR: 2
Reply 4, posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting IL76 (Thread starter):
Ok... A masterclass. Good idea.
We can make a topic about every aspect of editing, like levels, cropping, contrast/saturation, cloning (!), etc.

Let me start with sharpening....

Yes, thank you for this threat, it will help me very much in the future. I have try the Layer method, look :

http://www.airliners.net/addphotos/b...o_747_B-2475_LUX_20060129-005b.JPG

Thank you.

Emmanuel


User currently offlinePitchul From Luxembourg, joined Jan 2005, 121 posts, RR: 2
Reply 5, posted (8 years 2 months 1 week 1 hour ago) and read 32767 times:

And this one too

http://www.airliners.net/addphotos/b...argo_MD11_B-2174_20060129-009b.JPG

Manu


User currently offlineJAT74L From United Kingdom, joined May 2004, 618 posts, RR: 15
Reply 6, posted (8 years 2 months 6 days 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Thank you Eduard & others.

Regards

John



I like trains just as much as planes but trains don't like the Atlantic!
User currently offlineINNflight From Austria, joined Apr 2004, 3765 posts, RR: 60
Reply 7, posted (8 years 2 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting IL76 (Thread starter):
Deselect anything with very little detail, like the sky and dark/black shadows.........These will only get grainy when sharpened. Use the magic wand tool to select these areas and invert the selection. Then you can start sharpening

That's an important one!
Here's a different way to do exactly the thing Eduard said, but for people (like me), who do not like the magic wand tool for sharpening too much:

What I found out is, that almost never all areas of an aircraft need the same amount of sharpening.

As an example: If the tail is correct, the flaps might be jagged, and the nose still a tad soft. What to do here?

I almost for every photo use the Polygon Lasso Tool (hope that's the English name... only got the German PS version) to sharpen. With this one, you can easily select an area you want to work with.

( like mentioned: The nose - which is yet too soft )

When having the area selected I want to sharpen, just apply as many passes of USM until you think it's good.

You can do this with basically any part of the photo, and you can apply as many passes as every area needs.

This way, you can prevent sharper areas of getting jagged, and still make the softer one's look acceptable.

Hope you got my point, great thread we have here!

cheers,
F.



Jet Visuals
User currently offlineIL76 From Netherlands, joined Jan 2004, 2237 posts, RR: 50
Reply 8, posted (8 years 2 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Regarding the magic wand tool:

Set the treshold between 5-15 or so. Click the sky (for example). You might not get the full area of sky at the first click, so then press shift and click another part of the sky. It will then be added to the selection.
If you set the treshold too high, you might accidentally select other things aswell, even parts of the aircraft. Undo you last action and do it again with a lower treshold setting.
When inverting the selection, it might go over the edge where the aircraft meets the sky, deselecting the actual edge. In this case, expand your selection with 1 or 2 pixels to make sure the whole aircraft is selected.

Ed

PS, Try to keep your posts informative please! This thread is dedicated for tips and tricks. Please post your trials and results elsewhere. Thanks.  Smile


User currently offlineMartin21 From Netherlands, joined Aug 2001, 347 posts, RR: 1
Reply 9, posted (8 years 2 months 6 days 22 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

IMO it's better to sharpen after resizing the photo.

Martin21



At 30.000 feet, the sun always shines !
User currently offlinePsych From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2004, 3043 posts, RR: 59
Reply 10, posted (8 years 2 months 6 days 21 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
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Great thread - thanks Ed.

Can I echo Andrew's comment above that it would be nice for this thread and others like it to be placed somewhere on the site easy for users to find, rather than buried in the Forum, as it will become over time.

Already a lot of very informative stuff here. As the USM impacts on the pixels, USM of the same setting will have a different impact on different sized files. For this reason I always apply the USM to an edited image that is already resized. Applying it before resizing will result in an image that will look different. I tend to go with the 500%, 0.2 and 0 initial USM pass over the entire photo - always applied to a duplicate layer - so that later areas of that sharpening can be modified. I have found that this setting doesn't really have a marked detrimental impact on aspects of the image you are less interested in - such as the sky - so grain is not badly affected.

Often for my photos I leave it at this and then use the Sharpen Tool - shaped like an isosceles triangle in the toolbox - on areas that will benefit from some extra sharpening. By setting this tool to a strength of about 15% (just underneath the menus) this allows good control of the amount of sharpening you are applying. I use a relatively inexpensive graphics tablet and pen, which helps control further, because the amount of pressure you exert with the pen on the tablet has an effect too. This is even more useful when erasing jaggies.

I find I don't have to select particular areas, as this process works for me. I have found that certain images - particularly those where the subject to be sharpened takes up the majority of the pixels (i.e. a close up) - can benefit from more than one pass of USM. (Also the quality of the lighting seems to have an interesting impact on how much USM the picture will 'take', though I don't understand the technical aspects of why that should be the case.) This second USM filter is set to a lower amount - say 150 - 200%. As said above, you can experiment with the numbers to see the effect.

Once the overall sharpening looks okay, use of the Eraser tool, set at about 50% opacity, gently removes the applied USM, exposing the unsharpened layer beneath. I find a figure of around 50% ideal - i.e. you are taking away half the USM added (and with the pen the pressure allows even finer control) and are able to fine tune the amount of sharpening that remains. For areas where jaggies are a real pain - for example certain cheat lines - you can set the eraser to a much higher opacity, getting rid of most or all of the sharpening. With the tool set to a very small brush size, fine control is once again possible.

Once you are satisfied, flatten or merge the layers (I'm not sure if there is any difference here) and you're off.

Cheers.

Paul

[Edited 2006-02-10 18:17:53]

User currently offlineWallace From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 67 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (8 years 2 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 32767 times:

I have been told that Sharpen (USM) should be the last thing that is done to the image.

An alternative to the Polygon Lassoo is to use the Selection Brush and the Rectangular Marquee Tools. Use the Selection Brush "A" to paint the area that you want or don't want to work upon, then Marquee "M" to select the mask the area.
Doing this you can paint the whole aircraft to exclude the background.
I do not like the Magic Wand Tool, not enough control over what it selects.

Been using the 500/0.2/1 USM settings and sometimes multiple 500/0.2/1 USM. A bit unsatisfied and feel there could be better. I'll give the lighter 50/0.2/0 setting a try.

Layers - you can never use enough layers and to think that I used to shy away from using the things.

Suppose Photoshop is like Microsoft - for every one way of doing something there is at least one way of achieving the same goal.



"..... for beauty is written on the eye of the screener."
User currently offlineGVerbeeck From Belgium, joined Mar 2005, 245 posts, RR: 24
Reply 12, posted (8 years 2 months 6 days ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting Wallace (Reply 11):
I have been told that Sharpen (USM) should be the last thing that is done to the image.

Yes, keep sharpening as the last step.

I usually do it this way: I always use a second layer for sharpening, so you can use the brush afterwards to get rid of the jaggies (but I think we agree on that one  Wink). Coming from (and still going strong) slides, I had some trouble finding the right USM settings for digital shots. I'm using a 20D which I find to produce rather sharp images right from the camera. I usually shoot RAW+L Fine JPEG (at P2: no additional sharpening) and in 99% of the situations I use the JPEG's for my A.net shots (I'll keep the RAW's for storage). I therefore only use mild sharpening, something along the lines of 200/0.3/3 or less. I personally don't like aggressively sharpened shots, so your mileage may vary. Make sure to use different opacities on the brush for different parts of the picture (e.g. titles vs. flaps).


User currently offlineKey From Netherlands, joined Feb 2005, 99 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (8 years 2 months 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Very positive thread!  yes 

Quoting Wallace (Reply 11):
for every one way of doing something there is at least one way of achieving the same goal.

Absolutely. I would have expected it to be mentioned already, but I use selective USM with help of an Edge Mask. Basically this is explained in the PS Help (that is quite hard to get info from, really).

In a duplicate layer I use the 'Find Edges' filter and edit the result somewhat to avoid unwanted effects, like oversharpened registrations or wheels. What remains serves as the selection mask for USM in the main layer. If I don't like the outcome I go back and improve the mask until all looks OK.
So far all of my pics are slide scans and I've sharpened most of them in one run of the USM. Sharpening is the last thing I do before uploading (apart from saving as jpg). I never use a radius higher than 0,5 - lately it's more like 0,4 but I am moving toward the values mentioned above: 0,3 or even 0,2 with multiple applications. Threshold is always 0 (otherwise the selection mask would be useless) and amounts get pretty high, like 350 when applied just once.

Erik



... slides!
User currently offlineLumix From United Kingdom, joined Sep 2004, 114 posts, RR: 4
Reply 14, posted (8 years 2 months 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
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Having worked on images from my own camera a Panasonic FZ10, a Nikon Coolpix 8800, a Canon 10D, a 20D and a 300D, I can state with a reasonable amount of certainty that photos from each of them need totally different USM settings to get the best out of them.

It also depends on the subject size ie. airliner or Ce150, just how sharp the photo was to begin with, how much it was cropped, the weather and various other factors.

I don't think there will ever be a definitive set of figures for USM.

Cheers,

Lumix

PS. A really interesting thread for a change!


User currently offlineF9Widebody From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 1604 posts, RR: 10
Reply 15, posted (8 years 2 months 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Here are some Photoshop workflows we have hosted on RMAP.

Mine (Kyle's) will give you in depth instructions on how to perform Layers sharpening.

Jeff's will give you information on sharpening with Masks.

Hope you find them useful:

http://www.rockymountainavphotos.com/Kyle/Workflows/Workflows.htm

Regards



YES URLS in signature!!!
User currently offlineSunilgupta From United States of America, joined Nov 2000, 775 posts, RR: 14
Reply 16, posted (8 years 2 months 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting Q330 (Reply 1):
I'm wondering if, for example, doing 2 passes at 50 is the same as doing one at 100. If anyone knows if doing multiple passes makes a difference, I'd love to find out.

It's not. Do an experiment and find out for yourself  Smile If you use an extreme example like 100, 1.0, 0 vs. 50, 1.0, 0 two times you'll clearly see the differance.

Great thread, thanks for all for the info and links!
Sunil


User currently offlineWallace From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 67 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (8 years 2 months 4 days 18 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Quoting Key (Reply 13):
I personally don't like aggressively sharpened shots, so your mileage may vary.

You have just become my favourite screener  Smile

I do not like over sharpened images either. It is only a personal opinion whether an image is sharpened correctly or not.

Lumix, I was told by a Camera Shop owner that the larger the CCD the more sharpening the image requires due I think to the increased sensor resolution.

Erik, the Find Edges Filter, I take it that it is not the same as the PSE4 - Filter, Stylise, Find Edges filter?
Using that as a layer, overlay and a low opacity produces an interesting result, which would probably fail to impress a screener. Can you tell me more on this technique?



"..... for beauty is written on the eye of the screener."
User currently offlineKey From Netherlands, joined Feb 2005, 99 posts, RR: 2
Reply 18, posted (8 years 2 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Wallace, I do mean the filter you mention (Filter - Stylise - Find Edges). However, I do not overlay it but I use it as a selection mask for the sharpening.

So, the steps are to
- make a duplicate layer and apply Find Edges,
- edit this (black & white) layer somewhat to fit your selection wishes, i.e. only have parts to be sharpened selected (basically the edges  Wink ) and do so with the desired intensity (avoid oversharpening on regis etc.),
- use this layer to set your selection (Select - Load Selection and tick Invert),
- go back to your main (RGB) layer and apply the USM.

Before the last step hide the selection edges (via View - Show or shortcut Ctrl-H) to see what you are doing by preview. Mind that although the selection edges indicate a 'hard' edge of what is seleted and what not, the selection actually is very gradual. This is the power of working with selection masks for any adjustment to your image. The edges merely show the average line between selected and non-selected parts of the image.

I hope this makes things a bit clearer, if not plz call again.

One final word: as you can see I do not 'paint in' the sharpened part of the image, nor do I do this for any other adjustment. The reason is I just happened to start out the other way. I can see the advantage of it though in terms of fine control.
On the other hand, what I like best about what I just described is that the tuning is done before the actual adjustment, and these settings if you will can be saved. So what I keep on disk is an unsharpened image that can be sharpened with one Action but I can also make adjustments without having to start all over.
I would be interested to read other's thoughts on this.

Erik



... slides!
User currently offlineJeffM From United States of America, joined May 2005, 3266 posts, RR: 52
Reply 19, posted (8 years 2 months 3 days 23 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Using Actions/Masks...My Tutorial With Links! (by JeffM Aug 31 2005 in Aviation Photography)#ID199851

Not just sharpening....There are a few actions I made that you can download as well in that post. If your spending more then a few minutes working on a picture.....your doing something wrong when the camera is pressed up against your face. Get it right before pressing the shutter and you won't need to mess with these things in Photoshop as much. If you still need to, then by all means use an action if you want to be consistent.


User currently offlineWallace From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 67 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (8 years 2 months 3 days 22 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

Find edges. I can not get it to work, I have a feeling that this process has been over simplified.


"..... for beauty is written on the eye of the screener."
User currently offlineKey From Netherlands, joined Feb 2005, 99 posts, RR: 2
Reply 21, posted (8 years 2 months 3 days 20 hours ago) and read 32767 times:

 headache  Ouch, that's because of me... Where I say layer, I should have said channel! Sorry about this confusing mistake!

So create a new channel and then follow the steps above. I hope it makes sense now. To be sure: the process of selecting part of your image is done through the menu with that 'edges-channel' as the one you're looking at. Then go back to the RGB channel and apply USM. Naturally, a few Actions come in handy when you use this regularly.

Erik



... slides!
User currently offlineRG828 From Brazil, joined Jan 2004, 582 posts, RR: 2
Reply 22, posted (8 years 2 months 2 days 16 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
PHOTO SCREENER

Quoting IL76 (Thread starter):

- Layers. Sharpen on a "duplicate copy" layer.

How do I 'join' the effects done on separate layers? When I flatten the image, the sharpen effect/layer is tossed!



I dont know the key to success, but the key to failure is trying to please everyone
User currently offlineFlyfisher1976 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 804 posts, RR: 2
Reply 23, posted (8 years 2 months 2 days ago) and read 32767 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Hi, after reading this thread it occurred to me that something is missing that would be very helpful to me and possibly others:

Can a qualified individual post several examples of sharpened shots, one slightly oversharpened, one sharpened perfectly (perfectly=ANET standards  Wink) and one that is slightly soft?

With the help of Fergul's workflow I really feel like I have goten a good handle on editing shots for acceptance here. However, I tend to "fall down" when it comes to sharpening. "Soft" constitutes the majority of my rejections overall..

Thanks, JD


User currently offlineWagz From United States of America, joined Mar 2003, 510 posts, RR: 17
Reply 24, posted (8 years 2 months 1 day 20 hours ago) and read 32767 times:
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Does anyone have any experience using the USM function in Paint Shop Pro as opposed to Photoshop? The tools in the PSP USM tool seems similar: Strength (1-500%), Radius (0.01 - 100) and Clipping (1-100). However, using the same settings people have recomended for PS don't work.

For example, 500%, 0.3 and 0. Any radius setting below 0.4 does absolutely nothing. I've tried making 5 passes at a 0.3 setting and nothing happens at all, even at 500% strength. At 0.4, the image is already oversharpened and grainy at that high strength, so I lower the strength which helps but things still don't look quite right.

Because of this I've the PSP USM tool difficult to work with, so I've always used the generic sharpen tool while masking off edges of wings, flaps etc to avoid jaggies. This method has worked pretty well for me, but I haven't shot aircraft in a couple of months now, so I don't know how it would fare against these "higher standards" that supposedly exist now. At times I think the sharpen tool can be too much, so I'd appreciate some help as to mastering the PSP version of USM.

Thanks.

Joe Wagner/KPHL



I think Big Foot is blurry, Its not the photographers fault. Theres a large out of focus monster roaming the countryside
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