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How Do You Guys Get Your Photos So Sharp??
Old 06-13-2007, 11:41 PM   #1 (permalink)
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I have been spending a lot of time on G1 looking at the portfolios put up by my fellow photographers and I have come to realize I have some work to do.

One thing I am in awe of is how do so many of the photographers on this site get their photos so sharp? I am following the image guidelines as set forth by Rolando and I have looked at photos posted by other photographers like R. Frederick Smith and Bobby G. and their sizes and dimensions are similar to mine but they are definitely sharper, more vivid, and in some cases almost surrealistic in nature.

The only thing I can figure out is it has to do with the Resolution function in Photoshop. For a typical 640 x 480 image I set my Resolution to 72 dpi because that is what I have been taught to use for the Internet but I am thinking you guys are setting your Resolutions a lot higher to maybe 200 dpi or more. I am also thinking part of it has to do with the Sharp and Unsharp mask tools in Photoshop which I haven't quite mastered but I am working on it.

What gives guys? How do I make my photos pop like yours? Thanks.
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Re: How Do You Guys Get Your Photos So Sharp??
Old 06-14-2007, 01:21 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PhotoDave1 View Post
I have been spending a lot of time on G1 looking at the portfolios put up by my fellow photographers and I have come to realize I have some work to do.

One thing I am in awe of is how do so many of the photographers on this site get their photos so sharp? I am following the image guidelines as set forth by Rolando and I have looked at photos posted by other photographers like R. Frederick Smith and Bobby G. and their sizes and dimensions are similar to mine but they are definitely sharper, more vivid, and in some cases almost surrealistic in nature.

The only thing I can figure out is it has to do with the Resolution function in Photoshop. For a typical 640 x 480 image I set my Resolution to 72 dpi because that is what I have been taught to use for the Internet but I am thinking you guys are setting your Resolutions a lot higher to maybe 200 dpi or more. I am also thinking part of it has to do with the Sharp and Unsharp mask tools in Photoshop which I haven't quite mastered but I am working on it.

What gives guys? How do I make my photos pop like yours? Thanks.
DPI has nothing to do with web images. DPI is a printing construct. I save my photos out of Photoshop using Save for Web. That automatically sets the DPI to 72 if I recall. It also strips m e t a data and the preview image, etc. Sharpness is a quality of several principles. One is to have sharp focus on the critical part of the photos. For glamour, this is often the eyes. When you get the RAW file into Photoshop you've basically got a soft image. That is to say, if you did no sharpening, the image would appear soft. So I use one of several techniques to make the photo sharp. In the RAW converter I apply a light sharpening. I then bring it into Photoshop and sharpen the eyes and soften the skin if needed (because it is often too sharp). I then resize to 600x400 for portrait mode. I use a small automation tool for this process that does a stairstep reduction in size and does sharpening as it does this. I then use Save for the Web to save the image out to disk. (I use the sRGB color space, by the way - if using Adobe RGB, then I change the color space right before the Save for Web process). If you search through some of the old forum posts for my "black mask" article on sharpening you'll see the exact details of how I do the work in PS.

So that is all there is to it. Of course good lighting will also give the photos some extra punch as well as having the right color balance.

Here is an exaggerated example of the three steps:



Cheers,
rfs
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Re: How Do You Guys Get Your Photos So Sharp??
Old 06-14-2007, 05:14 PM   #3 (permalink)
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OH MY GOSH!!! all this time with "soft" images. I thought something was wrong with my camera...lol...all my images use to look like the first image from rfs now i know how to use the RAW editor and it makes a huge difference. Thanks for the sharpening tip rfs.
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Re: How Do You Guys Get Your Photos So Sharp??
Old 06-14-2007, 05:59 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by photoguy2003 View Post
OH MY GOSH!!! all this time with "soft" images. I thought something was wrong with my camera...lol...all my images use to look like the first image from rfs now i know how to use the RAW editor and it makes a huge difference. Thanks for the sharpening tip rfs.
Even if you don't shoot RAW, you can still get sharp photos out of the camera. If shooting JPG, then be sure to experiment with the contrast and sharpness parameters. Since a small JPG preview image will be embedded with the RAW file (1500x1000 approx), it is wise to get the parameters settings correct and to also strive for good WB in the camera. A good starting point for many dSLRs is to set the contrast and sharpness parameters to one notch above center and test how that looks.

And, while the RAW converter does a good job at sharpening it cannot do as good of job as some of the tools within PHotoshop itself. So that's why I use the three stage method I mentioned. The first stage in the RAW converter is more or less automatic since I let the ACR do light sharpening. But this is not as much sharpening as it would default to. I always tweak the settings to do just a little, but not too much.

Cheers,
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Re: How Do You Guys Get Your Photos So Sharp??
Old 06-16-2007, 12:44 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Sometimes you have models that don't have good facial skin and soft is a good thing.

As part of my workflow, I always select the eyes, feather about 4, and then use the unsharp tool. Next, I go to the lips and hit them with the same tool, but at a lessor degree.

I think that if the viewer sees sharp eyes and lips, they are tricked to think that the skin texture is soft.

Lindsey

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Re: How Do You Guys Get Your Photos So Sharp??
Old 06-16-2007, 01:14 PM   #6 (permalink)
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RFS... as I learn more about digital shooting - I'll have to credit you with a better understanding of raw sharpening. I didn't know... and you schooled me on this one. Thanks.

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Re: How Do You Guys Get Your Photos So Sharp??
Old 06-20-2007, 02:09 AM   #7 (permalink)
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I like to use a unsharp mask on the whole image first, after running Noise Ninja. Usually on the setting amount 100, radius 4, and a threshold of 3. Then I select the eyes and apply the same setting once or twice.
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