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Thread: Sharpening Lucy

  1. #1
    Ricco's Avatar
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    Sharpening Lucy

    Hi - was hoping for some help again to get this sharpening thing nailed. After my last effort, I took a couple more shots today of my dog Lucy. What I was hoping is to get some advice on my PP techniques and whether I am on the right track and particularly in relation to sharpening of the image.

    This photo was exported from Lightroom as a full size TIFF and then resized in GIMP. This has had any work that I thought was needed on white balance colours etc done to it in Lightroom. This was unsharpened and I've included here as a reference point.

    Sharpening Lucy

    This photo took the full size TIFF and added a layer mask and then unsharp mask to sharpen. I then resized the image and resharpened once more before saving as a JPEG.

    Sharpening Lucy

    So:
    1. Does the process I'm following sound right?
    2. Have I done enough, overcooked it and does the 2nd image look like it has been sharpened at all?
    3. What should I have done differently if anything?

    Thanks for any help.

    P.s. She is an ugly dog but for some reason we love her!

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening Lucy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ricco View Post
    1. Does the process I'm following sound right?
    2. Have I done enough, overcooked it and does the 2nd image look like it has been sharpened at all?
    3. What should I have done differently if anything?
    1 - Yes.
    2 - It looks pretty spot-on to me
    3 - I think you've got it right.

    What settings are you using on each sharpen?

    Some people (e.g. Colin) advocate 3 sharpen steps. A capture sharpen as soon (in our case) as we take it into GIMP. Then a process sharpen as we go through the workflow of other actions and finally the output sharpen.

    You've done 1 & 3, which is what I tend to do on many occasions. But it's worth holding on to that idea of an additional slight tweak during the process. But, as I say, I think you've got the one above pretty-well nailed.

    Just to add in another twist for you to think about. You say that you are using Unsharp Mask. Is that from Filters>Enhance menu? On that same menu, do you have, just below 'Unsharp Mask' something called 'Wavelet Sharpen'. If not, you can download it as a plug-in from the GIMP Plug-in Registry. I use it all the time instead of Unsharp Mask. It's a good little tool. You just have two variables (Amount and Radius) to worry about.

  3. #3
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    Re: Sharpening Lucy

    She's better looking than me. Sounds about right but then I don't do it that way anymore.

    I think Colin said something like 3.0 pixel capture sharpening.

    Then creative sharpening eg a brush.

    Then sharpen after resizing but I can't remember the radius off hand; probably less than 1 pixel.

    There is a tutorial though:

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...sharp-mask.htm

    You haven't got another dog called Richard have you.

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    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening Lucy

    Steve's advise is sound. But remember, numbers in GIMP and Adobe products are very, very different. So, as Steve says, when people speak 300 for the Adobe stuff, we GIMPers need to think 3 or less.

  5. #5
    Ricco's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening Lucy

    Thanks Guys.

    Donald - I do have the wavelet sharpen. I'll give that a go next time.

    I've been trying to soak in as many of the tutorials as I can, but nothing really substitutes for getting your own image and having a go.

    I did a bit of martial arts training when I was younger. My instructor used to tell me that there were three stages when fighting:
    1. When you are a beginner and don't know what you are doing, often oyou miss an opportunity to get your opponent because you just don't see it;
    2. As you progress, you see the opportunity but aren't good enough to capitalize on it;
    3. When you get better, you see the opportunity, capitalize and beat the opponent.

    To me the tutorials show you what you are missing but it really is the practice in getting from 2-3 that I need. I'm trying to develop my 'eye' a bit more to see where to improve my images.

    Thanks

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    Re: Sharpening Lucy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ricco View Post
    This photo was exported from Lightroom as a full size TIFF and then resized in GIMP. This has had any work that I thought was needed on white balance colours etc done to it in Lightroom. This was unsharpened and I've included here as a reference point.
    Just curious: why not sharpen, resize, and export as JPG in Lightroom? You'll save a lot of time, and get the same (if not better) results.

  7. #7
    Ricco's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening Lucy

    Brian, the simple answer is I don't know how. I am still learning all packages so would be interested in any tips you have.

    When I first looked at the photo - I thought the best place to sharpen it would be in GIMP simply because I didn't want to sharpen the entire image. GIMP allowed me to put a layer mask over it to selectively sharpen. Having said that, in hindsight I guess I could do it in Lightroom with a brush.

    The only way I know how to resize in Lightroom is to export the file as a JPEG and then reimport it. Any better tips?


    Thanks,
    Peter

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    Re: Sharpening Lucy

    i think the sharpening is a bit excessive, i actually like the original better. Looks a lot more natural. I did a try on sharpening it with a bit more subtlety:

    http://img121.imageshack.us/img121/3858/dogma.jpg

    I think using unsharp mask with a radius larger than 1 just leads to very unrealistic sharpening with unnatural local contrast.

  9. #9
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    Re: Sharpening Lucy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ricco View Post
    Brian, the simple answer is I don't know how. I am still learning all packages so would be interested in any tips you have.
    Sounds good! Hope I can point you in the right direction. I'm still absorbing all of this as well, so anyone, please correct me if I'm wrong. I'll give you a basic outline, but if you want to delve deeper, I highly recommend George Jardine's "Develop Module" Video Tutorial. Jardine was on the Lightroom team at Adobe. He spends 36 minutes on the Detail panel alone. IMHO it is absolutely worth the $25 USD he charges. He has many, many examples and explains the meaning of each setting and slider thoroughly. I can't recommend his tutorials enough.

    Anyway,

    Step 1 is to apply what's called "capture sharpening." This is global sharpening to reverse the intentional blur caused by the anti-aliasing filter in front of your sensor (nearly all digital cameras have this. The filter is there to reduce moire).

    Capture sharping in Lightroom is done in the Develop module's Detail panel. Make sure you are zoomed in at a 1:1 or at most 2:1 ratio or you will not see the results. The default settings are pretty minimal. As with all things in Lightroom, play with the sliders until you find settings that are visually appealing. Don't worry about what number your setting is at. Just focus on the appearance of your photo. Oversharpened photos tend to look "scrunchy" and have halos (glowing edges). Run the slider all the way to the right to see what I mean. Check areas that have high-frequency detail (hair, grass, etc.) and low frequency detail (skin, sky, sand, etc). Just because one looks good doesn't mean the other will.

    Step 2 is "creative sharpening." This is where you selectively sharpen features that you want to accentuate. Lightroom can do basic creative sharpening with the Adjustment Brush. Hit "K" or click on the brush while you're in the Develop Module, increase the Sharpness slider to your desired setting while leaving the other settings at 0, and "paint" on sharpness. This is commonly done on eyes in portraits. I honestly can't think of other examples. :-)

    Step 3 is "output sharpening." You don't have to do anything special, other than make sure the "Sharpen For" checkbox is actually checked in the export dialog box. Should be set to "Screen". The paper options are only if you need to print from outside of Lightroom but still want to use its advanced print sharpening.


    When I first looked at the photo - I thought the best place to sharpen it would be in GIMP simply because I didn't want to sharpen the entire image. GIMP allowed me to put a layer mask over it to selectively sharpen. Having said that, in hindsight I guess I could do it in Lightroom with a brush.
    Actually, there is masking slider in the Detail panel. Hold down your Alt or Option key while sliding it and you'll see the mask. Everything in white gets sharpened. But good instinct on using the brush.

    The only way I know how to resize in Lightroom is to export the file as a JPEG and then reimport it. Any better tips?
    Definitely don't do this. :-)

    Lightroom is a "parametric" editor, meaning that it never actually edits the original image file on disk, it just remembers the editing "parameters" (a.k.a. settings) that you've adjusted and displays them to you on the fly in real time. That way everything you do is non-destructive and reversible. If you export in a lossy format like JPG and then reopen that JPG in Lightroom then you are losing a substantial amount of data. Think of it as making a copy of a copy of a videocassette--the quality degrades significantly each time. So don't worry about pixel dimensions while you are editing in Lightroom. Only worry about that when you need to export. Use the full "Export..." dialog, and in the list of options you'll find an "Image Sizing" section. There you can choose your pixel dimensions to suite your needs (and Lightroom will automatically optimize it's output sharpening for whatever size & media you specify).



    Phew! Thanks for letting me braindump. I find that explaining these concepts helps me understand them better. Someone, anyone: if I missed anything or got anything wrong, please correct me!

  10. #10
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    Re: Sharpening Lucy

    Quote Originally Posted by bfkimball View Post
    Step 1 is to apply what's called "capture sharpening." This is global sharpening to reverse the intentional blur caused by the anti-aliasing filter in front of your sensor (nearly all digital cameras have this. The filter is there to reduce moire).
    Err, this is if you're shooting raw. I now remember that you're working with a TIFF file. You may or may not have had capture sharpening and/or output sharpening already applied. Depends on where you got the TIFF from.

  11. #11
    Ricco's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening Lucy

    Thanks for the Brain Dump Brian - but I think the last point is the bit that needs clarifying. I am OK with the general sharpening workflow within Lightroom. However, I have interpreted that output sharpening to occur after the image has been resized. Lightroom does this but it is 'automatic' in so far as you basically check a box that you want the image to be sharpened.

    Perhaps someone can clarify this for me - is this what we mean by output sharpening or should this be a process on its own? My initial interpretation was resize the image and then resharpen. Or is it OK to just trust the sharpening within Lightroom to do the right thing by you?

    With regards to the TIFF - I am working in RAW format, but TIFF seems to be the best format for transferring between Adobe and GIMP. Perhaps this is another question someone could answer for me.


    Thanks

  12. #12
    bfkimball's Avatar
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    Re: Sharpening Lucy

    Quote Originally Posted by Ricco View Post
    Perhaps someone can clarify this for me - is this what we mean by output sharpening or should this be a process on its own? My initial interpretation was resize the image and then resharpen. Or is it OK to just trust the sharpening within Lightroom to do the right thing by you?
    Yup, output sharpening is highly dependent on the final image size. The good news is that Lightroom takes your chosen exported image dimensions into account when applying output sharpening upon export. It's safe to trust Lightroom to handle output sharpening for you.

    With regards to the TIFF - I am working in RAW format, but TIFF seems to be the best format for transferring between Adobe and GIMP. Perhaps this is another question someone could answer for me.
    No, you're right, I misunderstood. TIFF is perfect for editing in another program when you've hit Lightroom's limits (i.e. need to use layers or complex selections and such). For optimal results, make sure you're using the "Edit in..." menu to get the image into the GIMP, and not the Export command.

    Hope that helps!

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    Re: Sharpening Lucy

    I'm sure you've gotten good advice on the technicalities of sharpening. I would just point out that this is a really bad image to try sharpening on. The lighting makes the fur too close to washed out. Notice, e.g., the sharpened fur on the right cheek -- it looks like steel wool. This isn't a matter of shooting a black dog, but shooting a black dog in harsh light. With gentler lighting, you'd have more sharpening "headroom." Or so ISTM.

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    Re: Sharpening Lucy

    i agree with tom, fur in harsh light is a nightmare, one other point to throw into the mix, as sharpening is so destructive to an image i was taught to only use it at the last stage, even in cs3 bridge i have the panel ticked for sharpen only for viewing purpose (which is not the default setting),so when i open the raw file in photoshop it has no sharpening at all,when i resize to whatever i want then i sharpen to suit,
    i dont know if lightroom sharpens the raw file before you transfer to a tiff ? in CS3 its tucked away in the settings,
    at the end of the day it all depends on what you are going to do , if you are going to blow your pics up to huge sizes then the original sharpening could cause artifacts, cheers martyn
    Last edited by Nomadr; 3rd May 2011 at 11:11 PM.

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