This and That

Random bits of my life

Sharpening and Post-processing

Posted by Avital Pinnick on March 22, 2010

Someone asked me recently whether I had sharpened the pepper and water photos (or some of my other photos). The honest answer is I do sharpen if that’s the only way to save the image but generally I prefer to use a light hand in post-processing. Obviously, I’m not talking about HDR, which is heavily post-processed. For ordinary photography, I crop and often increase contrast but usually that’s all that’s needed. I’m not a total purist about getting everything exactly right in the camera, especially if I’m taking a grab shot on the run, but if the pixels aren’t there, well, all the Photoshopping in the world isn’t going to bring them back!

Here’s a photo that needed sharpening badly. I took it while walking by and in relatively dim light, so it wasn’t very clear. But the subject matter interested me enough that I thought it was salvageable, so I cropped,lightened, and sharpened it. Oh, one bit of advice I picked up: Do the sharpening last. It messes with the pixels, so you don’t want to do it too early in the processing.

Zaatar (Hyssop)

In bright light my chances of getting a sharp photo are much higher, not too surprisingly. This photo of the Dome of the Rock was taken from the roof of the Aish haTorah yeshiva with a Canon 55-250mm lens, handheld. 250mm, f/8, 1/500 sec. The distance between me and the building? 850 meters, or about half a mile. Yet, you can still see the logo on the TV satellite dish and the chips on the tiles.

Dome of the Rock (original)

To view it full-size, click the photo to go to the Flickr page, click All Sizes, then click Original. It would have been sharper with a tripod, no doubt about it, but I was running around without a tripod that day.

Below is a processed version. I cropped out the antenna, straightened the photo, and increased the contrast slightly using Picasa. This is a downsized version (1600×1067, since it takes me too long to upload full-size photos).

Dome of the Rock

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2 Responses to “Sharpening and Post-processing”

  1. pam said

    Great information especially the tip to sharpen LAST. Now I understand why I noticed that sometimes the pixels were going wonky all of a sudden!

    I find you abilities to hold your camera as steady as you do quite amazing. I am constantly amazed by the sharpness of your images. The pepper for one and the flowers – excellent!

    Thank you for taking the time to make this post.

    • Avital said

      Thanks for your comments, Pam! I’ve been thinking more about this and I think the lens does make a difference. I’ve used friends’ cameras with third-party lenses, mainly cheaper Tamrons and Sigmas, and sometimes found it a struggle to get a sharp image with a big telephoto. I’ve been very happy with the quality of Canon lenses. Can’t afford to jump into the L class, though (I know you’re a Nikon/Hasselblad user. L lenses are pro quality. Lots of $$$).

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