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Thread: Sharpening - Moose Peterson

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    Sharpening - Moose Peterson

    The B&H youtube channel recently had a chat with Moose Peterson. In there, he mentioned his sharpening technique. I've tried it, and, surprise, I like it a lot. But only once I figured out how to best use it.

    What I used to do was do shrink my images to web-sized with bicubic smoother, then sharpen with USM. I found sharpening later to be nicer than shrinking with bicubic sharper.

    Moose's method uses a layer with high-pass filtering and layer blending modes. Not only does it sharpen, but can bring out details that weren't as clear, such as tufts of white fur on a white paw. I've found it does a better job at rescuing slightly out of depth of field doggy faces than shrink and USM does too.

    My new Moose-inspired way. (PLEASE DISREGARD AND FOLLOW THE SIMILAR STEPS BELOW!)
    1. Take image and dup to layer, Layers/duplicate.
    2. If you're resizing for the web, set the layer to hard light blending mode. If you're not resizing for web, consider using soft light blending to have a more subtle effect.
    3. Run Filter/Other/Highpass, set somewhere between 1 and 4ish, usually 1-2.5. With hard light, the image will look horrible with overly exaggerated edges. This is fine.
    4. Layers/Flatten.
    5. Resize with bicubic sharper to websize. The hard-light overly exaggerated edges now blend away.
    6. If you're getting overly sharpened facial details in addition to what you actually wanted sharp, you can also create a mask and paint them out, or adjust the layer opacity before flattening.


    Does anybody have tweaks to that flow? Any other secret sharpening tricks?


    EDIT: What I find works best, is more subtle than what I originally suggested. I found the above way too harsh the next day... and I've learned some more about USM, and find it can be a useful second tool on extra soft high-ISO images.

    Remove as much noise as you can in Camera RAW while retaining details. (Luma of high-20s, and chroma around 40 should kill fairly strong high ISO noise while retaining a decent amount of detail. I consider these my upper limits on the sliders).
    Take image and dupe to layer, Layers/duplicate.
    Set the blending mode to 'overlay'
    Run Filter/Other/Highpass, set to 1.9. If you want to increase contrast you can crank this higher, but you may then need to convert the layer to black and white to prevent color bleed. I use 1.9 for 95% of images.
    Layers/Flatten.
    Resize with bicubic sharper to websize.
    If you started with a fairly noisy image, and after the high-pass sharpen and the sharp resize, you've got noise, run Noise/Remove Noise. Setting Strength to 3, preserve detail to 20, and reduce color noise to 25 kills most noise, and I don't see a loss of detail. In extremely noisy sources, you might increase the strength more. Before doing that, see if you can't get rid of more in RAW.
    If your image was soft enough or noisy enough that it doesn't seem super sharp yet, a second set of sharpening can be used... Enhance/Unsharp Mask. Set radius to 1.0, lower threshold to 0, and adjust the amount until you're happy. Toggle the preview on and off to see the effect. Consider lowering your amount. Too much can really hurt your image more than a bit of softness. I find the USM sharpening is rarely needed.
    Last edited by DavidEccleston; 01-17-2013 at 05:27 AM. Reason: Revised steps.

  2. #2
    Senior Member MrGreenBug's Avatar
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    Looks interesting.. I'll give this a try when I can. Thanks for sharing David!
    Cheers!
    --
    AnGelo Chiu (MrGreenBug in Flickr), Blog: http://mrgreenbug.blogspot.com

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    Senior Member Dave Throgmartin's Avatar
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    I usually use unsharpen mask in PSE 10 at 85, 1, 4 for most situations.

    Dave

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    I have an action that dupes the layer, changes the new layer blend mode to soft light, then adds a high pass filter set to 20.5. If the effect is too strong, I reduce opacity. If I only need it for certain areas, I toss up a mask and paint out the areas I don't want the HP filter. I usually just change the image size to 1024x768 for some web use and 800x600 for others.
    Mark - Flickr
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    I find values up to 2 good for sharpening. Using a larger filter size doesn't just sharpen, but accentuates the lighting, which isn't always wanted. I used a large 58 (or so) pixel filter on AnGelo's Spice picture to help bring out the shading, which was very subtle on the original.

    But, yes, by all means, play with the slider, and try all the blending modes too! Sometime a larger filter can ruin one photo, but can make another great. The best way to learn to predict what will happen is to play with it.

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    I agree, sometimes the HPF is overkill. My HPF action can leave halos as well. It's very image specific. I also find I use it rarely with the 6D. The shots seem plenty sharp SOOC.
    Mark - Flickr
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    Senior Member Photog82's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting this information, it was very helpful and it does actually help some. I did notice that it adds some noise (maybe it was just the photos) but it looks great. I never looked at the bicubic sharpening option either, I'll have to start using it from now on.

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