My Sharpening Workflow

I have always struggled with the sharpening aspect of digital images.  First of all, I did not realize

that during the process of converting the RAW file the images suffer a slight softening.  This is

why it is necessary to incorporate some sort of sharpening technique to your images.


ImageIt is also important to realize that the sharpening process should be the last thing you do to your image

prior to uploading to the web or printing.  Failure to do so can result in unnecessarily sharpening

artifacts or noise which would be obvious in your image.


This is a fact I fell oblivous to for the longest time, and I never could understand why my results were so awful. 

The images I posted on the web usually looked over sharpened, and/or overly contrasty, and sometimes I noticed ugly

halos along the edges of the areas where I applied my sharpening.  I finally got to the point where I was afraid to

do any sharpening at all.


Then, I discovered the secret.  Resize your image for your desired output, flatten the image and make sharpening

the very last thing you do.  Lastly, utilizing layers in Photoshop, I apply a mask to my sharpening, fill it with

black, and then paint with white, on the mask, back only the areas where I want to apply the sharpening.  It doesn’t

make sense to apply sharpening to areas with no detail or importance.  Sometimes I even drop the opacity on my mask

so that the sharpening does not look overly harsh.


Here is another secret I incorporate in my workflow.  When I finish working on an image, I save this file with

all layers intact and un-sharpened.  I refer to this file as my “master file”.  From there, if I want to upload

a copy to the web, I will make a copy of the file, resize it, flatten it, sharpen it and then save it seperately

from my master file.


I never sharpen, resize or flatten my master file.  That way, I always have options for how I want to use

the file.

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