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Thread: On Sharper Images

  1. #1
    Kdfrank's Avatar
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    On Sharper Images

    Taking in the good advice from some of you very knowledgable CiC'ers, I submit this post of flowers from my backyard. I used a tripod, added a remote shutter release and studied up on my camera's mirror lock up mode.
    Proof that old dogs can learn new tricks! Your thoughts on sharpness would be appreciated. (note the "bonus ant" on the flower - I didn't even see him when shooting, darn Lasik!)

    Image with sharpness as shot...
    On Sharper Images


    Image with PP sharpening...
    On Sharper Images

    I like the sharpness of the as-shot image..did I need to do the PP sharpening?

  2. #2
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: On Sharper Images

    Kerry that's a nice sharp, well exposed colourful image. I think the sharpness in the first one is fine. When you say "as shot", do you mean it was captured as a jpeg ? If so, sharpening is done in camera.

    Dave

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    FrankMi's Avatar
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    Re: On Sharper Images

    Getting images 'tack sharp' isn't always easy. In this case it looks like you did such a fine job with the camera techniques that the adding sharpness in post processing can only marginally improve the sharpness without introducing halos from oversharpening (which you did well to avoid). Very well done!

    It looks like you are ready to move on to another aspect of image sharpness, using Depth of Field (and/or post processing Lens Blur) to control the Bokeh to give better separation between the subject and the background.

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    Re: On Sharper Images

    How did you sharpen the second image?

    Probably a suitable case for selective sharpening which just applies to the two main blooms.

  5. #5
    Kdfrank's Avatar
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    Re: On Sharper Images

    When you say "as shot", do you mean it was captured as a jpeg ? If so, sharpening is done in camera.
    Dave, good question. I exported the RAW file from Adobe Lightroom (my PP software of choice) with its "default" sharpness setting as a JPG for the first image.


    How did you sharpen the second image? Probably a suitable case for selective sharpening which just applies to the two main blooms.
    Geoff, on the second image, same process only I added +100 on the sharpness slider. I'll read up on selective sharpening in Lightroom.


    It looks like you are ready to move on to another aspect of image sharpness, using Depth of Field (and/or post processing Lens Blur) to control the Bokeh to give better separation between the subject and the background.
    Frank, Thanks for the encouragement! Are you suggesting I pay more attention to f-stop settings to achieve the appropriate in-focus field for the given shot?

    I'm not familiar with using lens blur in PP. I'll also read up on that in Lightroom.

    Are there advantages/disadvantages to "getting it right" in-camera vs controlling blur in PP?


    All comments are greatly appreciated!

    ~ Kerry

  6. #6
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    Re: On Sharper Images

    Are there advantages/disadvantages to "getting it right" in-camera vs controlling blur in PP?
    As a general rule, it is always a good idea to get it as right as possible in camera.

    For good control of depth of field and blur, you should, as Frank says, learn to use aperture to control depth of field.

    Re sharpening in LR: all of the sliders matter, not just the amount slider, although I rarely fiddle with the default on the details slider. For what it is worth, here is my sharpening drill for LR:

    --find a location with suitable detail. Blow it up to 100% (1:1 at the top left).
    --move the amount slider to the max. It will look terribly oversharpened, but don't worry about that yet.
    --change the radius to find a level that brings out detail without too much in the way of halos. this is usually between 0.8 and 2.0 pixels.
    --if you have areas of smooth texture that don't need sharpening, mask them. you do this with the bottom slider. if you hold down the alt key while moving it, you will get a black and white image showing you what details are still being sharpened.
    --reduce the amount to a level that looks reasonable (rarely, in my experience, as high as 100, but sometimes it is).
    for this last part, I find it is often helpful to zoom out a bit (say, 1:2) and recheck.

  7. #7

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    Re: On Sharper Images

    The size of the display affects both the amount of sharpening needed and your approach to depth of field. In this case, I see a considerable improvement in the clarity of the second image when viewing it at full-size that I don't see at the small size that is automatically displayed in the thread.

    With regard to the depth of field, I have recently realized that I have to use a smaller depth of field (larger aperture) to display a blurred background at a small size than I would have to use on a large display. That's because the smaller the image, the less detail can be seen (which is good if your full-size image isn't tack sharp.)

  8. #8
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    Re: On Sharper Images

    Quote Originally Posted by Kdfrank View Post
    Frank, Thanks for the encouragement! Are you suggesting I pay more attention to f-stop settings to achieve the appropriate in-focus field for the given shot?

    Are there advantages/disadvantages to "getting it right" in-camera vs controlling blur in PP?
    Absolutely Kerry, any time you can get it right in-camera you'll get a better result. It is to your advantage to master the camera settings to the point where you can configure the camera for each scenario blindfolded and automatically without having to stop and think.

    But what can you do when the perfect image has a problem (like insufficient Depth of Field) and you can't reshoot the scene? Do you just bin the almost perfect once in a lifetime image? This is where learning post processing can make the best of what you have (such as selectively applying a Lens Blur with a gradient filter to just the background.

    I have a number of images I took on vacation that are like this. I couldn't take the camera I would have liked (or the time in a tour group that is rapidly walking away to the next point of interest) to get the perfect composition, lighting, etc. in-camera. Without post processing, many of these images (which can never be reshot) would have ended up in the bin.

  9. #9
    Kdfrank's Avatar
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    Re: On Sharper Images

    here is my sharpening drill for LR:
    Dan, thanks for taking the time to write out the brief "tutorial". The Alt button (Option on my Mac) feature was something I was not aware of.

    I see a considerable improvement in the clarity of the second image when viewing it at full-size that I don't see at the small size that is automatically displayed in the thread.
    Mike, thanks for your post, much appreciated.

    ~Kerry

  10. #10
    jprzybyla's Avatar
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    Re: On Sharper Images

    Hi Kerry, I think understanding why digital images are sharpened will help you. The process of turning an anolog image into a digital image and the Bayer Filter on top of the sensor softens the sharpness of an image. The sharpening algorithms are used to restore the image to the sharpness and resolution that a particular lens is capable of producing. Sharpening cannot take a soft, not focused well image and make it sharp, well focused. All sharpening methods have sliders, that is because no two images are alike. Some can and need more sharpening than others. Some images need a higher radius than others, such as a portrait. If a small radius is used for sharpening a face the skin most times appear gritty like sand paper, thus a larger radius smooths out the skin. That is a low frequency image. A high frequency image such as a image of a forest from a distance with many small leaves is a high frequency image. A high frequency image will be better sharpened with a small radius. The detail slider in Lightroom and Camera Raw does two functions...the low side of the detail slider supresses sharpening halos, the high side of the detail slider adds more sharpening to an image. There is a book by Bruce Fraser...Real World Sharpening, that explains all this.

    I noticed in your images that the highlights at the top of the flowers were blown out. You can manage that by using the histogram in your camera, especially if your camera will display four histograms along with the image in the LCD. The Luminance, Red, Blue, and Green histograms. The colors of white, red, and yellow easily blow out when photographing flowers. The graph in the histogram climbing the right side of the display would indicate colors blown out, watch the Luminance and Red histogram particularly. The blown out colors can be handled by reducing the exposure. I use the EV control on my Nikon camera, most times between -1 and -2 depending how strong the light is.

    I hope this helps you, keep shooting....

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