There seem to be many ideas out there about what is regarded as best practice for sharpening, Everybody has their own way and I have tried many of them. Sharpening to some is an afterthought or just the last step at the end of the editing process. I was in the past guilty of this. To others, it's almost a religious practice. Some completely overdo it, while others don't do it at all.
If you do not know what sharpening is, then maybe i can shed a little light on it for you. It is not a feature that adds detail to an image but instead works by adding contrast to the edges of objects to give the appearance of more detail. When I first started to apply sharpening to images, I used either a high pass filter on a 50% grey layer or the unsharp mask filter (USM) , applied at the end, when the mage was "finished". This was very crude with poor results. What I didn't know at the time was that sharpening can have tell tale side effects and if overdone can impact on the quality of your images when it comes to resizing them at a later date.
A few weeks ago, whilst I was talking to one of my greatest inspirations - Bruce Percy, about an upcoming workshop I have with him, he introduced me to Photo Sharpener by Pixel Genius. Basically telling me that this is what I should be using for my own work. With that kind of recommendation, I thought I had best take a look.
I have been working with it for the past 2 weeks and I am really impressed with the results on both print and screen. I now use a 3 step sharpening process as follows.
- Capture sharpening - benefits all images. Capture sharpening compensates for inherent deficiencies in camera systems. All lenses and sensors have specific characteristics and deficiencies.
- Creative sharpening - is to give an image a specific look and feel. There are at least three things creative sharpening can do for your images. One, creative sharpening can prioritise; it can direct attention to specific areas of an image. Two, creative sharpening can enhance aspects of images like texture and line, by amplifying to produce a stronger response. Three, creative sharpening can be used to accentuate different qualities of light; a great deal of detail is carried by the luminosity component of colour and changing it changes the overall appearance of light within the image.
- Output sharpening - Output sharpening is used to compensate for the softening of detail that a specific device produces. Output sharpening primarily benefits printed images. Images displayed on monitors rarely need to be sharpened for output, as they’ve already been sharpened based on the display device, during capture and creative sharpening.
This is not intended as a review but just a suggestion and sharing the love of something I have been introduced to and honestly think it ill benefit anyone who rely does not understand the finite details of sharpening. Pixel genius takes the guess work away.
With ongoing learning, my opinion is that sharpening is a very important creative part of the image making process. It has no less important than any other adjustment you make and should be given as much consideration as say contrast or saturation. Have a look at the Pixel Genius user manual, not only can you gain insight into sharpening and why you would want to but you will also get an introduction to a plug in that is designed and woks at simplifying sharpening for you. Making it easy for you to achieve great results, which at the end of the day is what we all want.
I think the biggest compliment I can pay the Pixel Genius team is not to simply say that Pixel Genius's Photo kit Sharpener produces finished images that look really sharp, but that they look very natural and display a level of detail that previously I've not seen in any digital print. That's not to say that I've not seen sharper prints, I have, but in one way or another they've always appeared overdone. With Photo Kit Sharpener there's no telltale signs of over-sharpening, halos or any of the other artefacts we've become accustomed to seeing or not knowing how to rectify.
Follow this link and give it a go for FREE!!!