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RE: Sharpening [was Re: Resolution and print quality]

No flak from me, Bob. I agree with you entirely.

All the counts is artistic intent and a result that accurately reflects

Cathy Brown

-----Original Message-----
From: owner-epson-inkjet@leben.com [mailto:owner-epson-inkjet@leben.com]
On Behalf Of Bob Frost
Sent: Thursday, June 06, 2002 5:47 AM
To: epson-inkjet@leben.com
Subject: Sharpening [was Re: Resolution and print quality]

Kennedy (& Harvey),

I hesitate to continue this discussion, having been doing serious
photography for only a couple of years, and being a scientist rather
than an arts person. However, I don't agree that the only sharpening
required is that necessary to replace that lost during scanning etc.
This might be the case if your photography is of the 'record picture'
type - trying to reproduce exactly the scene in front of the lens. But I
don't think that is what most 'serious' photographers do. They 'enhance'
their images, by every physical, chemical, and electronic trick in the
book, to try to produce an unreal picture that satisfies their artistic
interpretation of the scene. Enhancement of edges - sharpening - is
surely just one of those tricks.

Painters have for a long time known that to enhance edges you lighten
the paint on one side of an edge and darken it on the other. I was at an
exhibition of paintings by Picasso, Matisse, etc only a few weeks ago -
"Paris in the 20's" I think it was called - and I remember saying to my
wife "Look at that marvellous example of the use of 'unsharp masking'.
Looking at the paintings and prints of paintings in my house, I can see
numerous examples of where the artist has emphasized an edge - to make
it stand out from the background. And yes, if you peer at the paintings
from 10" they look unreal, but stand back and you enjoy the effect the
artist was trying to achieve.

A friend of mine who goes to art classes has been taught how to enhance
edges by painting a darker line round the inside of the edge to make the
object stand out - asymmetric sharpening (you can do this with usm on a
layer by setting Blend mode to Darken).

With our new computer techniques, sharpening can be done by various
means; usm is just one of them. But I maintain it is a valid artistic
technique to make an object stand out, and that the amount of it that
you need depends on the effect you want and on the viewing distance. An
artist painting miniatures does so with delicate strokes and lines
suitable for a close viewing; an artist painting murals uses larger
brushes and strokes more appropriate for viewing at a distance.

The fault that many photographers perhaps have is of applying an equal
amount of sharpening to the whole image. Painters don't seem to do that;
they are more selective in what they sharpen and by how much. I have
recently started being much more selective; one recent image that needed
different amounts of sharpening in different areas was sharpened four
times with 100% amount of usm. Then, using the History brush, I simply
painted the appropriate amount of sharpening into the different areas of
the image.

But all done for a viewing distance of 10 feet or more, which is what
happens if I show my prints to a seated audience. Forget the fine detail
if people are sitting 20 feet away; it's the overall composition and
impact that counts. IMO.

Bob Frost (awaiting the flak)

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