Friday, March 14, 2008

The Smart Sharpen Tool

Most photographs can benefit from the Filter>Sharpen tool in Photoshop. The preferred tool among photojournalists is actually the Filter>Sharpen>Smart Sharpen tool. As with many of Photoshop's Intelligent" tools, this way requires care and experimentation. The first step is to set the "Remove" drop down menu to "Lens Blur." Then you grab the image that's in the central image box and move it to an area that gives good detail. The final step is to slide the "Radius" bar back and forth – adding more pixels to the width of the sharpening effect generally makes the whole photo look sharper – but you can overdo this, to the point where your picture becomes very "grainy.

The top image shows the negative as originally scanned and brightened up a bit. Below are the tools described above, and finally is the sharpened image – a photo I took at the great Mayan ruins of Palenque, Mexico, in 1996.


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