Basic Sharpening

If you’ve peeked inside Photoshop’s Filter menu, you’ve probably noticed a whole category of filters devoted just to sharpening. They include the following:

  • Shake Reduction. This filter attempts to fix the blurriness introduced by camera movement (called camera shake) when using slow shutter speeds and/or a long focal length (meaning you’re zoomed in to shoot something far away). If you’re not shooting with a tripod and a remote shutter release, it’s impossible not to move the camera a little bit when you breathe or press the shutter button. This filter works best on images with decent lighting, very little noise or specular highlights (geometric shapes caused by reflections of light), and without moving subjects. You can also use this filter to make blurry text easier to read, which should make forensic scientists jump for joy.

  • Sharpen, Sharpen Edges, Sharpen More. When you run any of these filters, you leave the sharpening up to Photoshop (scary!). Each filter analyzes your image, tries to find the edges, and creates a relatively narrow sharpening halo (Figure 11-1, bottom). However, none of these filters give you any control, which is why you should forget they’re even there and stick with other methods listed here.

  • Smart Sharpen. When you see three dots (…) next to a menu item (like there are next to this filter’s name in the Filter→Sharpen submenu), it means there’s a dialog box headed your way—and when it comes to sharpening, that’s good! Smart Sharpen lets you ...

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