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.
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.
. 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)
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.