Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Joe McNally and Scott Kelby - Digital world of Photography.

 Here is a link to a great video of Joe and Scott discussing how photography has changed and is changing in the digital world. The market place has changed, intended use of images has moved from traditional magazines to more of a web model of distribution. Also supply has changed,  the number of photographers has increased and those wishing to make a living in the business must do it not only better but differently and stand out in the new digital crowd. Interesting video, check it out:  Joe McNally & Scott Kelby

Monday, December 13, 2010

Photo Sharpening - Pixel Genius Photokit Sharpener

If you're using the RAW format setting on your camera and you should be if you're not, you'll need to apply some sharpening to your images for output. Raw captures are not run through your camera's sharpening algorithms as they are by default when you use the JPEG setting so you'll need to use Photoshop, Lightroom or some other photo editing package to apply sharpening manually. Even JPEG images can benefit from some selective after capture sharpening.

Photoshop, Lightroom and even ACR (Adobe Camera RAW) have filters or methods that allow you to sharpen your RAW images. Most people use the "unSharpen Mask" filter in Photoshop for this purpose. How confusing is that, "Unsharpen" to sharpen an image? The term comes from an old method used in a traditional film darkroom where a mask was created using a low contrast blurred positive copy of the negative which is then sandwiched with the original negative in an enlarger when creating a print. The intentionally blurred positive only affects (cancels) the low frequency information or blurred details on the negative. The mask also decreases the dynamic range of the negative, with the partial cancellation of the mask it emphasizes the high frequency or fine detailed information in the original thus giving the appearance of sharper detail or acutance.

The digital method of sharpening is so much simpler and the Pixel Genius Photokit Sharpener tool makes it even easier. The tool splits the sharpening of your images into three distinct tasks.

  • Capture sharpening: restores detail lost in the capture process.
  • Creative sharpening: applied to a localized area of your image (ex: eyes in a portrait). 
  • Output sharpening: sharpening to be applied to a re-sized image ready for a specific output media (ie: Print).

Separating the process of sharpening into three tasks provide benefits that most Photoshop plug-in tools do not. Three tasks simplifies the decision process, you can address each issue individually rather than trying to address them all with a single sharpening application. The user can apply just capture and creative processes to an image, and address the output sharpening at a later date incase the output size or destination is changing. The best thing I like about the "Photokit" sharpener is that everything is done with a layer or layer set. So sharpening is applied non destructively and can be adjusted via the opacity setting of the layer. With the creative tool you apply the sharpening with an automatically created layer mask, painting in the areas you wish to sharpen. Creative brushes are also available to blur or smooth areas you wish to soften. I find this useful in getting rid of noise which often shows up more in the background behind your main subject.

 Many well know print makers swear by this tool including Micheal Riechmann of Luminous Landscapes and Graham Nash of Nash  Editions. Give it a try with their 7 day demo I'm sure you'll find the product very useful.