Just like any useful tool, images too need to be sharpened. Before you go digging for your sharpening stone, that could get messy, think digital sharpening. Disclaimer: this does not apply to your compact point and shoot camera when you get pictures printed from your sorority party, this applies to the amateur and professional photographer who have forked out the extra $ for maximum control and maximum work. Funny how that works…cheaper = easier in this case. But of course, with easier, I mean you: 1. take photo with camera 2. put memory card of camera in slot 3. watch pictures flow out of shiny yellow machine. It certainly is convenient. Then you stand there feeling like you won at the photo slots, although, others around you may not be as pleased as your triple print “winnings” continue to stack up.
With professional photography, we are the shiny yellow machine. We personally color balance, contrast adjust, resize, clone, transfer, post, and send our images to print, often in another state. In order to keep all of that precious work in tip top condition, we have to use what is known in Photoshop as the Unsharp Mask. Sounds contradictory to our topic, but it works! When you upload an image online (Facebook, Blog, Flickr) images are compressed and lots of information and detail is tossed out… sharpening helps it look better on your web browser after it goes through that compression. Below you will see 2 sets of images and you may even recognize the subjects. The first set was just edited for color then resized. The second set was edited, resized, then….you guessed it, sharpened! You would never know, because you are viewing these from the web, but from my Photoshop screen, the top one looked way better! After it’s compressed and uploaded, the bottom one looks way better. Think of it as the sugar coating for web viewing and printing. Even though it looks great to you, you have to add a little something something so it will appeal to everyone else in the multiple forms your images may take on.
Hope you learned something this grand thoughts from the intern friday day!