28 August 2011

Sharpening Digital Images

Did you know that all digital images, whether from a camera or a scanner have to be sharpened? This action adds contrast to the edge transitions within an image and makes it appear sharp. Most times cameras are set up to sharpen the image automatically. The problem with this, if you’re not working with RAW files, is that it can’t be changed or undone. A default sharpening amount is not ideal for a superior image. Too much and it looks like grain or a fringe, almost a glow around transitions. Too little and the image won’t appear sharp.

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Pixel Density

Had someone without technical knowledge and experience made this shot using the meter in their camera, the white vans would be totally blocked up in the highlights. With all the dark trees in the background the scene would have fooled the meter. Within all digital images the density of a pixel is represented on a scale of 0 to 255. Zero is pure black and 255 is pure white. Detail in the whites is very critical, because the tolerance for adjusting them is disproportionately small. If they’re blocked up at 255 there is no way to get any of that detail back when processing the RAW file.