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Sharpening In Photoshop

Thu Apr 15, 2004 1:24 am

Hi all,

I am after some assistance.

I have had a photo rejected and have been advised that it is too soft and I should sharpen it in photoshop.

How do I do this?

It may seem a silly question but I am new to the whole digital SLR thing and am not familiar with photoshop.

I currently have photoshop 6.

Can anyone help me?

Regards Simon.
Live every second like you mean it
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RE: Sharpening In Photoshop

Thu Apr 15, 2004 1:38 am

I use photoshop 7, so I guess the menus will not be located the same way.

Anyway. In photoshop 7, it is merely a matter of selecting menu [filter][sharpen][sharpen]. That will give a standard sharpening kick.

Sometimes (very often actually), this sharpening is to strong. In the [edit] menu, I can modulate the last command used. In this case, the sharpening. I then select [edit][fade sharpen], and modulate it till I've found the good compromise between too soft and too sharp.

After that comes the USM, but it takes some time to master it. I encourage you to prattice with the standard sharpening.

As a side note, it is very unlikely that a DSLR pic wil be accepted without a sharpening, as most of the DSLR give a very soft result.


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RE: Sharpening In Photoshop

Thu Apr 15, 2004 1:42 am

Hi Simon,
Your best bet is probably to use the so called "Un-Sharp Mask" (commonly referred to USM here on the forum). I am not sure if it's any different in PS6, but I doubt it, as I have PS7. Now, you just need to open your picture, and click on filter, then sharpen, then unsharp mask. This brings up a window, where you can alter the settings for the sharpening. I don't tend to use the bottom two sliders. The top one is the one you will be using most. (I am sure someone here with more knowledge than mine can tell you what the other sliders exactly do) This changes the amount of sharpening that is done. Now all you have to do is drag the slider up, just until you don't see any of the infamous "jaggies". This happens mostly on curved surfaces on the photo, where the edges become jagged, and are no longer smooth.

I sometimes use the magic wand tool to deselect the wings, or elevators (which are often problematic when sharpening) and then sharpen the rest even more if I think it looks better.

Hope this helped, and if you have any other questions, go ahead Big grin.

I guess that's what happens in the end, you start thinking about the beginning.
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RE: Sharpening In Photoshop

Thu Apr 15, 2004 1:43 am

Hi Simon,


Filter ---> Sharpen ---> Unsharp Mask

Ben Pritchard
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RE: Sharpening In Photoshop

Thu Apr 15, 2004 1:50 am

Hi Ben

When I do this it then gives me a percentage by which I want it to sharpen.

It defaults to 50%.

What should I be inputting here?

Regards Simon.
Live every second like you mean it
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RE: Sharpening In Photoshop

Thu Apr 15, 2004 1:58 am

Read this great article on unsharp mask.

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RE: Sharpening In Photoshop

Thu Apr 15, 2004 1:58 am


It's trial and error mate.... each image is going to need different amounts of USM.

My personal preference is to apply USM in several small steps rather than one big hit. I use 45%, radius 0.3, threshold 0.

Hope that helps!

 Big thumbs up
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RE: Sharpening In Photoshop

Thu Apr 15, 2004 6:46 am

When using USM what view is best? normal or zoomed right in? Not knowing how the screeners check the images its difficult to try and get it right.

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RE: Sharpening In Photoshop

Thu Apr 15, 2004 7:02 am

100%! Always!

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RE: Sharpening In Photoshop

Thu Apr 15, 2004 7:39 am

i usually use 300% and .3, usually works pretty well
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RE: Sharpening In Photoshop

Thu Apr 15, 2004 8:56 am

I use Unsharp Mask at Radius 0.6, Threshold 1 but sharpen different parts of the photo at different levels.

Tricky areas where the "jaggies" are most likely to appear such as wing edges I give a 40%, any writing, some tail logos and anything else with a lot of detail 80% and the rest of it 180%.

I always use the Polygon Lasso in PS and Inverse it to help avoid those Jaggies, I think the Polygon Lasso is one of the most valuable Tools in PS to get your photos sharpened up right and looking better.

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RE: Sharpening In Photoshop

Thu Apr 15, 2004 10:20 am

why not just make a duplicate layer, unsharp mask as needed at what ever settings do the trick, and just erase the rest? Then if another area needs a different sharpening level, you make another duplicate layer and repeat.

Using the lasso takes too long in my opinion, and leaves artifacts at the line of demarcation... but if it works for you...

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RE: Sharpening In Photoshop

Thu Apr 15, 2004 10:52 pm

I was reading an article in a well known photography magazine that one of the best methods of using Unsharp Mask is to take a moment and change the image to lab color (Menu: Image, Mode, Lab Color). Once accomplished, select the Channels tab (next to the Layers tab), then select the Lightness channel. Again, once accomplished, perform your Unsharp Mask at whatever levels you see fit. The article mentioned that unsharp mask actually causes some level of artifacts when performed on an RGB image, and this process prevents it. Once complete with your adjustment, move the image back to RGB (Image, Mode, RGB) and save.

It's worked well for me. I hope you find this little tid bit useful.


[Edited 2004-04-15 15:55:20]
United States Navy submarine sailor turned aviation photography geek.
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RE: Sharpening In Photoshop

Fri Apr 16, 2004 1:07 am

You can get VERY clever with unsharp mask - moving to LAB is one way, however, mode changes do result in small erosions of quality. Another way to sharpen in RGB without colour issues is to apply USM, then go to Edit->Fade and select luminosity - exactly the same effect as LAB but without having to switch modes.

Jeff's technique is very good for selective sharpening. Indeed, many professionals do ALL image mods through duplicate layers of one sort or another - takes a little while to get your head round all the possibilities of layers, but an enormously powerful technique.

You can also look at channels - quite often one colour channel will take more sharpening than another.

Not sure about incremental sharpening though - all sharpening creates artifacts of one kind or another, so by working in increments you are in effect sharpening previously created artifacts, and you'll reach a limit much more quickly. Taking this logic further, recently I've been working on images starting from 0 in camera sharpening (turned off in RAW conversion). I've found that while the files start off looking very soft, they accept USM sharpening much better.


Colin K. Work, Pixstel

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