Hints for Sharpening Your Photos

Discussion in 'Graphics Programs and Photo Gallery' started by gary_hendricks, Jan 10, 2005.

  1. gary_hendricks

    gary_hendricks TPF Noob!

    Dec 4, 2004
    Likes Received:
    If you’ve got photos that are slightly out of focus, it’ll be great to use your photo editor to sharpen the image and get the results you want. Here are some factors to think about.

    1. People vs. Object Photos
    For softer images like portraits, you'll want to go quite light on the sharpening or you'll risk making things look unnatural. For images with lines and angles, such as architectural shots, you can sharpen considerably more before worrying about noticeable negative results. Experiment to see what suits you and think about what purpose you have in mind for each image.

    2. Onscreen vs. Printing Output
    If your intended use for an image is onscreen viewing, simply trust you eyes for the best results and experiment with small sharpening increments. If you're intending to print an image, a good rule of thumb is to sharpen your photo until it looks slightly too sharp. This is because the printing process will soften it just enough to make it look natural again.

    3. Avoiding Noise
    One thing to watch for when sharpening images is additional lines or noise appearing next to the outlines of objects. This can be especially apparent when you zoom in for a closer look. As with most tools, practice and experimentation are essential to getting the most out of sharpening. Also, living with some noise may be necessary to get a better overall result.

    4. Tools
    Depending on the photo editor you are using, you will have a varying range of sharpening tools available to you. Some of the common tools include the basic Sharpen, along with others such as Sharpen Edges, Unsharp Mask, Adaptive Unsharp, and Directional Sharpen. When and how to use these tools to best advantage is a detailed subject – in most cases, however, with some experimentation you will quickly find the one that gives you the most improved results.

    Sharpening photos is a subtle and subjective process. What to one person is a pmrfectly good shot, may be a candidate for sharpening to another. Likewise, some people may disagree that sharpening has made a photo better. The bottom line is that you will find photos in your collection that you want to sharpen and your opinion counts most.


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