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Thread: To Sharpen or Not To Sharpen?

  1. #1
    Workshop Member ChrisDauer's Avatar
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    To Sharpen or Not To Sharpen?

    that is the question I find myself asking as I look at some holiday picture I took at the company party.

    Most specifically of the owner and his wife, who show up looking fine in the normal small jpeg (in camera). When I process the raw file with my standard workflow; the image, though much much sharpen and more crisp, also manages to show every single wrinkle on her face (in such wonderful clarity

    I suppose I could USM her face a little (maybe around the heaviest concentration of wrinkles)? My concern is getting that unnatural look of everything is sharp in the image except their faces.

    What do you do when faced with this dilemma?

  2. #2
    Mark Turney
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    Re: To Sharpen or Not To Sharpen?

    Chris, if my wife were sitting here, she would likely say that it is 'safer' to go softer with a woman's skin rather than grainy or harsh. So, if you have to choose, go softer and thus - you won't accentuate any flaws. I've always felt that bad or over-sharpening is worse than no sharpening.

    However, what I would do is sharpen the whole image to taste, mask the whole thing black by creating a layer mask, and then selectively paint back in the sharpening to only the eyes, lips, edges of the ears, etc. But, leave the skin smooth. I use a Wacom tablet that gives me fine control of the opacity of the brush as I put back in the sharpening.

    Of-course, all of the above assumes you are using a photo editor like Photoshop that can accomodate what I'm mentioning.

    Hope this helps.

  3. #3
    Senior Member Lisa's Avatar
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    Re: To Sharpen or Not To Sharpen?

    Are you sure you need to do anything? My view on the issue is that if photos make someone look wrinkly, then they're wrinkly, and if they have a problem with it, they should take it up with their psychiatrist or cosmetics seller, not their photographer. I think it's presumptuous to assume that someone is so vain that they are unhappy with realistic photos of themselves (unless they have specifically asked for "glamour photography"). Thus, in my case, I'd just sharpen the same appropriate amount over the whole photograph and let wrinkles fall where they will.

    Then again, I don't use make-up, and am letting the bits of gray in my hair stay, so I'm probably not your typical female, and perhaps you shouldn't listen to me...

    Lisa
    Last edited by Lisa; 17th December 2007 at 08:28. Reason: (editorial)

  4. #4
    Super Duper
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    Re: To Sharpen or Not To Sharpen?

    I'm with Lisa, on pretty much every single point.

    That said, Mark's technique works aces for that sort of effect.

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    Subscriber Member TRSmith's Avatar
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    Re: To Sharpen or Not To Sharpen?

    I'm also in the camp of "it's good to be well adjusted" about how you look. The only caveat for me is that in some cases, photographs can introduce some unflattering elements that aren't normally visible to the naked eye. In my somewhat limited experience, that is especially true when flash is added to the mix. What my eye sees in a normally lit room of people and what's illuminated in a flash photo can be quite different. The strong light, even when properly exposed, adds a punch that can accentuate blemishes, wrinkles, skin discolorations, etc. Sharpening can sometimes make that side effect even worse.

    Maybe a happy medium is if the photographic method accentuates stuff beyond what might be considered "real", the photo might benefit from a little softer touch with the sharpening.

  6. #6
    Workshop Member ChrisDauer's Avatar
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    Re: To Sharpen or Not To Sharpen?

    3 studio lights were used in the harming of these faces

    The simple truth is that the sharper image is less flattering. In so much as I hate to submit a non-sharp image; I hate MORE to submit a sharp and unflattering image, of the wife of the boss, to the boss.

  7. #7
    Super Duper
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    Re: To Sharpen or Not To Sharpen?

    Give him one of each and let him make the decision. After all, he's the boss.

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