Tackling The Topic of Sharpening

I’m still quite active with sorting through my past images, so even though I’ve been shooting often in the past weeks and showing images on this blog, I haven’t had the time for any serious editing. But even the quick and limited edits of the images for this blog have shown me that I need to learn more about sharpening.

I tried looking on the Internet first, but there is a lot of misinformation out there, so I turned to the expert(s) and bought Bruce Fraser’s “Real World Image Sharpening with Adobe Photoshop CS2“. It seems Bruce has consulted Adobe all the way from Photoshop 4 through CS3 in all topics related to sharpening, so who else would know more?

Sadly Bruce passed away in late 2006, so we won’t be seeing anything new from him…

I’ve just finished reading the book, and it’s an eye-opener, to say the least! I think I’ll have to read it again before I start applying the advice in there, but I’ve now understood the need for and the steps of a multi-stage sharpening workflow. I will be setting up the actions for automating the process in the next days. By the way, all the advice from the book has been turned into a Photoshop plug-in — PhotoKit Sharpener — from PixelGenius, which is a company with which Bruce was strongly associated. While all the experts seem to agree that PhotoKit Sharpener is the way to go, the book is less expensive, and it delivers an explanation of the how and why behind the ready-made actions, so I chose the book to start with.

Although the real benefit of sharpening is for printing and not for Web-sized images, once I get set up, I’ll show a few examples of what I’ve learned. In the meantime, here is an image that I’ve sharpened to the best of my “old” knowledge. Let’s see if I can make it better in the next days with Bruce looking over my shoulder…