Sharper the better? What is wrong with softening?

Discussion in 'Graphics Programs and Photo Gallery' started by Mindy, Mar 31, 2009.

  1. Mindy

    Mindy TPF Noob!

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    Hello, I am trying to understand a few things I was recommended which brings me here. I was told that lighting and contrast is most important. I also was told that the sharper the better. Well what about softening? And what about depth of field?

    Thank you. :)
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2009
  2. Peano

    Peano TPF Noob!

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    You were told? By whom? Someone with the teacher's edition that has all the answers in the back?

    Try this: An image is sharp enough or soft enough when you judge it to be sharp enough or soft enough (or contrasty enough or bright enough or this enough or that enough). Your judgment on such things will err sometimes. How will you know? Your judgment will tell you. And when it does, you learn from it and refine your judgment just a notch.

    And if anybody tells you anything different, they're as full of it as a Christmas turkey.
     
  3. dcclark

    dcclark TPF Noob!

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    Sharp is good if you want things to look, well, sharp. Soft is good if you want things to be soft. Sounds like a tautology, but it's true. Often portraits are done "soft" (except for the eyes) to make things look kinder and nostalgic -- it's a good effect. Landscapes are frequently very clear through a great depth of field, which is also a good effect. You don't want to see your mother's pores, but you do want to see your mountain's trees -- usually. You judge each time.
     
  4. K8-90

    K8-90 TPF Noob!

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    Ahaha! Agreed.
     
  5. Mindy

    Mindy TPF Noob!

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    Why thank you, Peano. :) I am on this other site for pet birds and asked for some tips on a photo I took of my two birds smooching (yes they posed for that one). But really I've been playing with Paint Shop Pro and have learned what I like.
     
  6. Mindy

    Mindy TPF Noob!

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    Thanks David! Great advice. Yes this is a portrait, but not of a human so they don't have pores (that I can see). These folks at this other forum like it sharp for whatever reason. I like it a little soft, for this photo anyway. And technically, since softening a photo blurs it to whatever extent, then it isn't sharp.

    But I don't know how to make the photo soft and leave out the eyes. :confused: I guess I still need to experiment with my software. :)
     
  7. dcclark

    dcclark TPF Noob!

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    Mindy -- get a fast lens (f/1.4, say) and shoot wide open. Then focus very carefully on the eyes, so that they're perfectly clear. That should help a bit, due to the very shallow depth of field -- then you can perhaps tweak the rest in post-processing.
     
  8. rufus5150

    rufus5150 TPF Noob!

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    Tangent, but... this has to be one of the funniest, self referential things I've read on TPF. Thank you, sir, for the hearty chuckle!
     
  9. skieur

    skieur TPF Noob!

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    Bottom line is that softening is a technique and the important question for any particular photo is: Does this technique contribute to the visual effectiveness of the photo?

    If it does, then it has been used properly. If it doesn't and looks like a mistake to the average viewer, then softening should NOT have been used.

    skieur
     
  10. Mindy

    Mindy TPF Noob!

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    I may have oversoftened a photo I did the other day. But then going back, I did like the original photo better. So I started over, did the adjustments that were working, did a little touch of softening and a little depth of field, and I did like it better after that.

    So yes, I know what you mean. Thank you. :)
     
  11. Mindy

    Mindy TPF Noob!

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    Yes I understand now! Exactly. Thank you. Now I really do need a new camera! :D
     
  12. DRoberts

    DRoberts TPF Noob!

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    There are so many difeent styles and preferences with photography that there is no way to give a general answer to your questions. No matter what you do you will find some that love it and some that hate it. So as stated above the best thing to do is make it to where you like it. The only time I worry about someone elses opinion is if someone hires me to take a specific photo with a specific outcome. Other than that I do what I like, in my style, and will continue to do so....That being said does not imply that i am to good (or stuborn) to accept advice and tips from those who are far more advanced in this field than I am.
     

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