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Archive 2013 · Right forum?
  
 
JimKied
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Right forum?


Hello all. I've been lurking on this forum (mostly the landscape, nikon, and post processing forums) for a couple of years and have been in awe of all the incredible talent on these forums. After being away from photography for 30 plus years, I am back in and getting more and more obsessed with it every day.

But I need help. I'm trying to teach myself Photoshop and it is quite overwhelming. I shoot raw, I think I am fairly OK with ACR, but I need help with Photoshop itself. I don't really understand the sharpening process - both for the web and for print. It isn't so much that I don't know how, it is more that I don't know when to stop.

And sharpening isn't all. I have knowledge gaps everywhere.

What I am leading up to is that I see a lot of critiquing of images from a compositional perspective, but not so much from a processing perspective. Can I get processing help in this forum as well?

Thanks,
Jim



Feb 26, 2013 at 02:50 AM
RustyBug
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Right forum?


Its all fair game ... bring on the pics.

JimKied wrote:
After being away from photography for 30 plus years, I am back in and getting more and more obsessed with it every day.

But I need help. I'm trying to teach myself Photoshop and it is quite overwhelming. I shoot raw, I think I am fairly OK with ACR, but I need help with Photoshop itself. I don't really understand the sharpening process - both for the web and for print. It isn't so much that I don't know how, it is more that I don't know when to stop.

And sharpening isn't all. I have knowledge gaps everywhere.


This sounds REALLY, REALLY familiar (see profile) ... deja vu.



Feb 26, 2013 at 03:43 AM
FredVf
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Right forum?


Jim,

I am very new here myself, but I know the answer is yes. You can get processing help in this forum as well. Lots of knowledgeable and willing people here, as you have seen. You just have to ask the specific question you want answered.

As RustyBug said "bring on the pics"!

Fred



Feb 26, 2013 at 07:54 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Right forum?


There have been whole books written on post processing sharpening. We can offer individual image suggestions, but writing a long treatise is rather beyond most of us. Personally, when I sharpen in PS, I mostly use Smart Sharpen with relatively mild settings. I also often make selections and selectively sharpen the selections with different settings rather than applying the same sharpening to the entire image. For example, I avoid sharpening skies and areas of bokeh, generally.

You will probably find the best and most extensive help for post process methods and techniques on the post processing forum. Here we mostly make suggestions for things to do to possibly make specific images better. Sometimes that's post processing.



Feb 26, 2013 at 07:55 PM
 

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cgardner
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Right forum?


USM is a form of optical illusion. At tonal boundaries the USM process increases contrast. Here's an 800% screen shot view of a boundary before and after sharpening:












Get up and walk about 8' away and look at them and you'll get an impression similar to a normal image.

USM is necessary to some degree in all digital images due to the way the RGB mosiac sensor and anti-alias filter over the sensor used to eliminate a stair-step pattern in diagonals blur the fine details. The additional contrast

There are three controls in the basic form of USM: Amount, Radius, Threshold. Conceptionally think of USM as a stone wall like the Great Wall of China between two territories. Amount is how high the wall is built. Radius is how wide the wall is. Threshold controls how much the two tones need to differ for the sharpning to occur. For example in a portrait you'd want the eye lashes sharper, but not the skin. Threshold = 0 will sharpen everything. As you move threshold to higher only areas that contrast significantly get sharpened. Above around 20-30 it becomes difficult to see the effect of the sharpening anywere in most images.

In general there are two schools of thought for USM. Create a high and narrow "wall" (500, .2, 0) or a lower / wider one ( 150, 2, 0). The best way to wrap your head around it is take an image like a portrait with detail and smooth areas and try different settings in those ranges.

I sharpen after resizing. My standard method for a 600 x 900 image is:

1) Apply 500, .2, 0 USM
2) Select EDIT >FADE USM
3) Change mode from "normal" to "Luminosity"
4) Move the opacity slider from 0 to 100%

Step one applies "high / narrow wall" USM

Steps 2&3 are some deep PS mojo which applies the USM without creating any color noise when borders are contrasting colors like yellow and blue.












What step 4 with the slider does is allow before (no USM) and after (100%) aggressive sharpening. Usually I wind up in the 60-70% range. Each image needs to be adjusted based on content and how sharp it was at capure and this method allows case-by-case visual evaluation.

USM for printing is a different animal. What USM does there is everything it does to remedy the camera induced problems plus remedy any mechanical variables during the printing. Since those are not seen until an image is printed you need to experiment with different setting then make a test print. What I do is take a small section of an image that will fit 8 or 10 up on a 8.5 x 11 sheet of paper and montage 8-10 different variations of sharpening.

Opinions differ widely regarding settings but for printing I use the "low / wide wall" method for prints with amount in the 100-250 range and radius in the 1-2 range.

The bigger the print and the further away it is viewed from the more USM it can tolerate. With both screen and print USM you'll know the USM is excessive if white halos appear at the tonal boundaries.

The way I selectively sharpen is two make a duplicate layer, apply USM, then use a mask to apply it selectively to parts of the image like the eyes and mouth. For portraits I also use a masked blur layer to selectively blur the skin and clothing. So I wind up with a three layer sandwich:

USM copy + mask
Surface Blur copy + mask
Original

Between the masks and adjusting the opacity sliders I have a high degree of selective control over what is sharp and attracting attention, and what I want noticed less.





Feb 26, 2013 at 11:00 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Right forum?


Jim, I have a few questions. Do you have more time than money? Are you more interested in the results or the methods you go through achieve them?

If you have more time than money and like working through the process, then Amazon has a number of excellent books on Photoshop. Check the ratings and read the reviews to find one suited to you skill level.

If you can afford it, I suggest NIK Software Plugins.
I qualify for the academic discount, so buying the entire suite was affordable. There's a number of corrections that are easy in NIK that take knowledge and time to achieve directly in Photoshop.

For instance, I have a vintage panoramic negative I inherited from my family. It's a great image, but for some reason the contrast is different in one part of the negative. I made two copies and used a normal method in Photoshop, then used NIK's Silver Efex Pro. In Photoshop, I created a layer, then used a mask to limit the adjustment to just the area that was of lower contrast. This is a pretty easy, basic Photoshop task and it didn't take long to accomplish. Most of the time was spent refining the mask.

I then took the other copy and used Silver Efex Pro. There are control points that you can use to control brightness, constrast and structure (similar to sharpening). I placed several control points, which are adaptive, on the photo and made the adjustments. It took less time and provided me more control, thus a better result.

There's also NIK Sharpener Pro that takes the guesswork out of sharpening. Sharpener Pro allows you to introduce sharpening at the beginning of the process, during processing and as the final step before printing. On the final sharpening, you tell the software the native resolution of the printer and the size print you are making and it optimizes the sharpening for the normal viewing distance.




Feb 27, 2013 at 02:36 PM
Bob Jarman
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Right forum?


There is a wide variety of tutorials on YouTube - obviously quality varies but find an author whose style you find most helpful and harvest the knowledge. Often best to specify topic in search to limit number of hits.

Check out books first hand in a library if you can, some are quite informative but the organization, or lack thereof, can make them very frustrating to use.

Anything else we can do, just ask and bring on the pics.

Regards & good luck,

Bob



Feb 27, 2013 at 02:45 PM
JimKied
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Right forum?


Appreciate all the insight. I will definitely try the USM suggestions.

And I have very little time, still doing the day job thing (I'm a CPA) but hopefully only for a few more years. So my self-improvement happens in spurts of time. I am also hearing-impaired to the point where I must lip read (cannot use a phone). But hey, I get by.

I have found most You Tube tutorials to be very frustrating because I generally do not understand what the "teacher" is saying while they are showing the selections on the screen. I can normally understand some of the visual, thought.

I do have Kelby's Photoshop for Photographers and the Snider's Missing Manual. Both have been helpful, but I still struggle to understand the terminology. I would love to take a class that has some level of personal attention, but most of what I see available is during the day...

So for now I need to be content with learning in little spurts and relying on the help of folks like you. I have learned more through the forum help process than any other way.

For me, I think a lot of my problems are centered around the lack of experience. For example, when I play with sharpening I don't know what to look for and whether or not I have sharpened enough or too much. I still fumble on what I see on my 96 ppi screen and how that is going to translate to a 300 dpi print. And that sometimes "freezes" me from trying to print anything. Hey, I'm a CPA and if you know anything about CPAs - we are cheap!

I'd love to have someone watching over my shoulder and point out when I need to stop or a better way to get where I am trying to go. Maybe I'll get there in a few years when I retire and have more time.



Feb 28, 2013 at 01:25 AM





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