2006-01-27 1304 Photography: == Unsharp me once, blame you. Unsharp me twice, blame me == Using *Unsharp Mask* is a common . . .

Unsharp me once, blame you. Unsharp me twice, blame me

Using Unsharp Mask is a common technique for sharpening your digital images straight from camera. For a while I used a method of using Unsharp Mask twice (or more!) to produce images that have a magazine cover level of sharpness. It certainly doesn’t suit all shots, but for those images you want to really jump out and grab the viewer it can’t be beaten.

Wishing for moonlight

Click on the shot to view the full sized image. First of all I used auto-levels and curves to set the overall colour and contrast balance. Then I used the settings exactly as-is from the instructions below. It if was a shot I really wanted to print, I’d tone the effect down a little for this particular shot – some jaggies started to appear on the second USM.

Here are the instructions from The Photo Taker’s Forum, by seanarmenta:

When I’ve done all my adjustments and retouching, and flatten my image, I run an unsharp mask (usm) found in filters > sharpen > unsharp mask. I usually work with pretty large files from my 10D, so I use the following settings:

20% > 50 pixels > 0 threshold.

Voila! Wow – looks pretty sharp already. the overall contrast has increased, but I don’t stop there…

I run a second usm, this time at 400% > 0.4 pixels > 2 threshold.
Voila again! This second usm sharpens more of the edges.

But…for some images that I want tack sharp, I run a third sharpening, this time with a high pass filter, found in filters > other > high pass. first, I duplicate the image layer by dragging the layer down to the new layer icon (next to the trash can) in the layers palette. then I run a high pass filter on that layer copy. I usually set it between 10 – 20 pixels. I change that layer attribute from normal to hard light. then I lower the opacity to about 20 – 30%. then I flatten the image one last time and there you go.

The first few times you sharpen twice or thrice, the image may seem oversharpened to you on your monitor. but on print, it will look amazing.

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