Chapter One. What Is Sharpening?: And How Does It Work?

An old saw in photography goes, “If you want great prints, use a tripod!” While it’s usually delivered half-jokingly, the important grain of truth is that one of the ways our brains try to make sense of the world as seen through our eyes is by breaking down the scene into edges (objects) and non-edges (surfaces). If the edges in an image appear too sharp or not sharp enough, our brains tell us that there’s something wrong, and in the case of a photograph, the image appears unconvincing.

Sharpening is arguably one of the most important yet least understood aspects of digital image reproduction. Examples of badly sharpened images are easy to find—you probably need look no further than your daily ...

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