Too much sharpening?

Discussion in 'Post-Production' started by alaios, May 25, 2014.

  1. alaios

    alaios TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2013
    Düsseldorf
    Alex
    Hi,
    are my eyes that only see too much over sharpened images in the post processing in this and other forums. Do we all tend to go to too much in clarity in photoshop so easily?
    Have anyone else noticed this?
    Regards
    Alex
     
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  2. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    Up to a point (halos), it's a matter of taste, isn't it? Can you show us examples of what you mean?
     
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  3. alaios

    alaios TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2013
    Düsseldorf
    Alex
    It is indeed a matter of taste, but please do remember that this is a evolving process and not something static (I guess we agree on that). I am just getting the feeling that we over do it... and as I browse of photos on galleries etc I think everyone is getting more and more used to it leading to even more sharpening. For me it starts to look so much digitalized... Nothing wrong with that buy my eyes-brain would always prefer something that is related with good composition and not with something that would remind me that photoshop (for example was used)
     
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  4. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Part of the problem is the not very good JPEG compression used on most sites, including Flickr (the site used for 98% of photo embedding nowadays), so while a TIFF file we have on our computers might look great, the shared photo shows artifacts which look similar to sharpening artifacts.
     
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  5. alaios

    alaios TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2013
    Düsseldorf
    Alex
    Hi Poki,
    I wish I could share some of the photos seen in this forum because I do not think we agree about the JPEG compression. It might be an issue to an extent but my take is that the problem starts from the software slider. Well, part of my initial thoughts were not argue about technical stuff but what our eyes see at the end. Are my eyes only that receive reality (shared shots) as oversharpened? I guess also that If I keep having such input my "taste" will adapt in the future
    Alex
     
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  6. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    David
    I'm probably the wrong person to ask this question, Alex. Because my basic criteria for "ART" is: Do I have an emotional reaction to it? My bet is that most academics would sniff at that. But if an obviously over sharpened photo sings, then it's "ART" to me.

    So I'll stand back and let others weigh in.
     
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  7. alaios

    alaios TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2013
    Düsseldorf
    Alex
    Hi the more answers the better. I am always think is more intresting to study how each one reacts to the same photos. I wish I had all your brains for an evening with some photos discussion and me taking notes. I guess that would be a great lesson for everyone. Well I would also return your brains back after that.
    A.
     
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  8. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Well, I for example always sharpen for printing, which is a bit more than what would be ideal for web usage as computer screens are not nearly as high resolving as a high-end printer. So yeah, in the end, the images might look a little over-sharpened, but honestly, I don't care. It's not to a point where I'd say it hurts my eyes. Of course there ARE photos which are simply overdone in sharpening, and once they start having haloes or loosing details due to a too aggressive sharpening algorithm, it's bad. But those images are only a small part of all photos posted online, fortunately.
     
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  9. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Speaking only for myself, I only have the "Brightness, Contrast, and Mid-tone" adjustments that are included within Microsoft Windows software.
    As I've been climbing up the learning curve the past several months I've discovered two things have contributed to occasionally over-adjusting the "contrast" for a .jpg image:

    1) The controls in Windows seem pretty basic and work in "steps"...they don't allow a smooth gradual "sliding" adjustment...not conducive to real fine tuning, and I've come to realize that I've gone overboard on a few...have been working to get better at that;

    2) I've noticed if I have my laptop screen tilted at a viewing angle that is a little off from normal the contrast looks different, so at the time, I make an adjustment to improve it, Then days later when I might be reviewing that photo again and happen to have the laptop screen at more proper angle, I see that I over did it.

    Beyond those couple basics, there isn't anything else I do (or can do) to a photo given the limitations of the imbedded software.
     
  10. dmward

    dmward TalkEmount Veteran

    200
    Mar 21, 2015
    Metro Chicago
    David
    Bruce Frasier did a lot of the early work to develop a sharpening workflow for digital.
    He broke it down into three components;
    Input sharpening
    Creative sharpening
    Output sharpening

    One can easily do the first two in Lightroom, Photoshop or whatever software they choose.

    The third is more difficult because it impacts the viewed image and is different based on media, size, etc.

    A JPG sent to a website may be manipulated by the side for various reasons which will impact sharpening that was applied when the JPG was created on export from Lightroom.

    The only way to be sure that an image will look the way one wants it to look on a given website, or forum page, is to test by uploading an image and looking at it.

    Generally, I've found low output sharpening in Lightroom with light compression (80 or higher) is safest for a 1024 image.
     
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  11. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    FWIW, just got LightRoom 5 a few weeks ago and after a few attempts of using 'Sharpening' on some JPEGs found that it's very easy to over-sharpen.
    'Sharpening' also seems to create a lot of noise as well, and when I try to kill / soften the noise with 'Luminance' (Noise Reduction) it seems to end up softening / offsetting the very gain of using 'Sharpening' in the first place.

    So at this point in my learning curve, I basically ignore the 'Sharpening' tool except as a possible last resort to save a marginal photo. The good news is that LightRoom's 'Clarity' control seems to do a much better / smoother job of crisping up a JPEG all by itself and not generating a corresponding amount of noise in the process.
     
  12. AlwaysOnAuto

    AlwaysOnAuto TalkEmount Top Veteran

    724
    Feb 17, 2015
    I don't do a lot of PP work on my photo's (and it probably shows too, :redface:) and I'm always trying to get the best SOOC shot I can. When I see the 'overly done' pictures, I look at mine and think "Why aren't mine that sharp? Is it my camera/lens/technique?" I often ask myself if that is what the scene really looked like at the time the shot was taken or is it some 'idealized' figment of the software's interpretation of what the scene looked like?
    I almost wish there'd be a forum for SOOC shots only, but I'm sure someone would find a way to 'fake' their way in there too.
     
  13. HabsFan

    HabsFan TalkEmount Veteran

    259
    Apr 10, 2013
    Ontario, CAN
    Generally speaking, you should probably not sharpen JPEG images. JPEGS have already had sharpening and noise reduction applied in the camera. Depending on your creative style settings, you may have less room to mess around with sharpening. I shoot mostly RAW now but when I have shot JPEG (or sometimes still do), I usually set the Sharpness setting in creative style at -1. This usually helps in reducing noise and you will get less over-sharpening. This gives you a little room for some creative sharpening to make a few things stand out a little more.
     
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  14. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    If that's the case, it would probably explain my experience with LightRoom's Sharpening on my JPEGs.
     
  15. dmward

    dmward TalkEmount Veteran

    200
    Mar 21, 2015
    Metro Chicago
    David
    What is often overlooked is that JPG is an output file format.
    Sharpening is done on an image before its output.
    Once the output sharpening has been accomplished its detrimental to do additional sharpening
     
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  16. robbie36

    robbie36 TalkEmount Veteran

    488
    Nov 21, 2014
    The 'Op' is a bit vague especially as we dont know what photos he is looking at. I have definitely found that when I have sharpened in Photoshop (although I dont touch clarity) sometimes my photos look oversharpened by the time they reach the web.

    On the other hand I do like sharp photos. I probably look at photos most often on '1x.com' and there virtually every photo tends to be very sharp.
     
  17. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    Well, hobbies are for people to pursue in whatever form and degree they choose.
    And while I agree many ‘post-processed’ photos look over-processed, artificial / un-natural looking, particularly in the colors, most notably the ‘greens’, you might find this article to be informative...about digital cameras actually requiring ‘some’ amount of processing due to the nature of the technology compared to film.
    -------------------------------------------------------------------------
    < SNIP >

    GUIDE TO IMAGE SHARPENING
    Image sharpening is a powerful tool for emphasizing texture and drawing viewer focus. It's also required of any digital photo at some point — whether you're aware it's been applied or not. Digital camera sensors and lenses always blur an image to some degree, for example, and this requires correction.

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/image-sharpening.htm
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015
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  18. dmward

    dmward TalkEmount Veteran

    200
    Mar 21, 2015
    Metro Chicago
    David
    The link Roundball provided leads to an informative set of tutorials on sharpening. Along with further links to optimal approaches to downsizing for the web etc.
    Well worth the read.
     
  19. roundball

    roundball TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Oct 8, 2013
    USA
    And in the spirit of fair play, credit to member 'WoodWorks' who first made me aware of that excellent website
     
  20. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    Gary
    Hmmm, Are we the art police?

    I think people sharpen for their eye. If you don't like it, move to a photo that suits your eye. The idea that there is some obligation or criteria to sharpen a certain amount seems diametrically apposed to creative works. And why stop at something arbitrary as sharpening? Let's put restrictions on multiple exposures, bracketing, dodging, burning, blurring, tone curve adjustment, split toning and every other adjustment that can be overdone.
    If we put this constraint on ourselves, then all we are doing is recording, not creating. That may be the goal of many, but not most and certainly not all. I just think there are so many ways you can see the pictures you like, there is no need to worry about the ones you don't like.
    This whole thing reminds me of somethings I read about early Jazz. Traditional musicians were actually offended by the improvisational aspect of Jazz. They were like, "you shouldn't this, and you can't do that". Now, Jazz is featured at some of the greatest music schools in the world.

    Again, are we the art police?
     
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2015
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