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Everything you need to know about sharpening a photo
on 12 September 2009
Save for certain "special effects", sharpness, clarity and smooth tonal gradations are amongst the critical hallmarks of excellent photographs, and go to the heart of what distinguishes photography as an art form. If you never thought that anyone could fill over three hundred pages with technically essential information and instruction about sharpening photographs, think again because here it is, and it's really important for anyone who strives for excellence in their digital imaging work.
Much more than a cookbook on how to sharpen a photo (though it does that too), this book, now in its second and expanded edition, describes in a way that's easy to understand the very fundamentals of digital imaging technology and image structure which give rise to the need for a multi-stage and multi-purposed sharpening workflow; from there the authors go on to present in considerable detail the optimal techniques for implementing it, so that those of us who read from cover to cover will understand the basis of the techniques they recommend. Years of experience and experimentation are bundled into these techniques, so one can have every confidence that they work well - as I do from having used a fair number of them myself. The book should cater to a broad audience because it covers sharpening, smoothing and noise reduction using a number of applications including Lightroom, Camera Raw, Photoshop and several 3rd party applications. Because some of these techniques have elements of repetitive operation image after image, certain parts of the sharpening process can be automated to improve our workflow efficiency. Photoshop has a functionality called "Actions" which permit one to do this. Hence I really appreciated the authors' inclusion of step-by-step instructions for creating several such Actions, along with Chapter 6 which contains one of the most approcahable introductions to the creation, editing and use of Actions that I've seen in the Photoshop literature.
I own a substantial collection of books, videos and other reference materials on digital imaging, and I must rate this particular volume as one of the most valuable in my library. It is the most technically comprehensive and innovative resource I've ever seen covering sharpening, smoothing and noise reduction, all of which are vital to achieving excellence in the production of fine photographs. It is also very readable and well illustrated.
Oh - and more thing: "Hamish" plays a central role in this book, so if you'd like to find out all you want to know about "Hamish", you'll just have to get it :-)
Five Stars Plus