Sharpening Photos in Photoshop Elements
On the San Diego Photography Meetup Group, I commented that a photo was a bit soft and could benefit from sharpening. The photographer replied she didn’t know much about sharpening. That got me to thinking that sharpening is something most experienced digital photographers do automatically without a lot of thought but it could be baffling to many newbies. I’ve embedded a Video Monday Morning Tip that explains basics of sharpening.
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There are several more videos covering sharpening in the Video section as well as a PDF article in the Monday Morning Tips section. I hope you’ll take a moment to review these resources so you can make your photos the best they can be.
Most of my videos and articles are basic enough that the instructions work for either Photoshop or Photoshop Elements.
Rob Sheppard HDR Webinar
REGISTER today for Rob Sheppard’s HDR Tools, Tips and Techniques webinar on Saturday, May 7 at 9AM Pacific Time. Rob is editor of Outdoor Photographer magazine, a National Geographic contributer and author of over 30 photography books. Learn from the man who edited Galen Rowell’s articles. I’ve taken classes with Rob and my photography has improved in immeasurably due to his teaching skills.
2011 San Diego Fair Entries
Here are my entries for the 2011 San Diego Fair. It’s your turn to critique my work. Let me know if you see anything you would have done differently in either making the photo or post-processing it for competition. Entering a competition is a good way to validate your work and ensure you’re not “drinking the Kool Aid.” Just because your mother says you’re a good photographer doesn’t mean anyone else thinks so!
It’s time for a new photo contest. This time, the theme is holidays. Being American, I’m partial to Thanksgiving during this period. For readers from other countries, the photos must reflect some sort of national celebration. The contest is open to registered readers of this site. Registration is free. The contest is open now and submissions will be accepted until December 8, 2009. The winner will be announced in time for them to receive the prize by Christmas 2009 unless they happen to live outside the USA in which case, all bets are off as to ETA.
The prize is a Photoshop World Workbook from Photoshop World 2009 in Las Vegas. It is 800 pages of PS tips, tricks and hints from virtually every class at PSW. For a peek at the contents, see this description on my site. Because the book is heavy, I’m asking the winner to pay US$10 via PayPal for shipping.
Photos will be judged on three criteria:
- Exposure – is the photo correctly exposed. Correctly does NOT always mean right edge of histogram at right side and left edge touching the left side. Many photos look better when one side or the other is pulled in to achieve a specific “look”. Color balance will also be evaluated.
- Focus – is the photo in focus or was blur used artistically. If your portrait has a sharp ear but blurry eyes, it will be noticed. Not only must the important parts be in focus but the unimportant parts must not be distracting. Controlling DoF is an integral part of good photography, it will be evaluated.
- Composition – what is the emotional impact of the photo? Does it tell a story or do the colors/shapes/lines/negative space evoke an emotion? Does the photo engage the viewer? Does it create tension through unanswered questions? More than anything else, I’m looking for photos that have impact, that makes me sit up and notice.
Since I am the sole judge and arbiter, here are some of my biases. As much as you think your kids/grandkids are precious, I rarely find any redeeming artistic value in photos of children or pets. On the other hand, I love landscapes, portraits, wildlife, birds, flowers, still life, architecture, old things, new things, shiny things, rusty things and just about anything. See photos on this site to get an idea of what yanks my chain, floats my boat, tingle my toes and, in general, makes me happy, sad, excited, thrilled, thoughtful or otherwise emotional. BTW, I’m also not a fan of street photography unless your name happens to be Henri Cartier-Bresson.
All photos must be resized to 640 pixels along the longest side and no larger than 1MB. Send it to me via e-mail or post it on your own website and send me a link. If you send a link, it should be a link to one photo. In other words, don’t link to a page with a gazillion photos and expect me to figure out which is your entry. The photo must have been taken with a digital camera (any type, make, model) and the only edits allowed are crop, color correction, levels and sharpen. No composites or collages will be considered. HDR will be accepted but the more it looks like a single frame, the better your chances. Each person is limited to three (3) submissions. Once a photo is submitted, it can be withdrawn but not replaced.
The purpose of this contest is to promote photography as an art. I want people to elevate their photography beyond snapshots of Fluffy & Rover at the backyard barbeque. I want more people to see the potential within themselves. Even if all you ever take are photos of your kids/grandkids, I want you to make them into art, not simple snapshots.
Legal stuff – By entering a photo(s) in this contest, you affirm that you are the photographer with all rights appertaining including, but not limited to, copyright. You agree to hold harmless the owner and publisher of this site and contest promoter from any claims, past, present and/or future arising from any actions related to the photo(s) submitted by you or in your name. By submitting a photo(s), you agree to convey an irrevocable, non-exclusive 5 year license to The Digital Photo Guy (Lee Otsubo) to display the photo(s) and use them for teaching purposes. All other rights remain with you. Any part of this agreement/contest may be modified by The Digital Photo Guy without notice.
I snagged several extra Photoshop World workbooks for drawings to be held during the Nov 14 webinar with Rob Sheppard. These workbooks contain class materials from virtually every class offered during PSW this week. That’s over 800 pages of material covering everything from Fixing Common Image Problems by Dave Cross to Graphic Secrets: Totally Text by Lesa Snider to The Perfect Panoramic by Jim DiVitale.
For me, yesterday was more about recharging the batteries and gaining new inspiration than pushing sliders, tweaking colors and adjusting angles. For inspiration, Jay Maisel is at the top of my list. He’s an oddball (synonym for New York photographer) but his ability to see while the rest of us simply look is amazing. His photos of what, at first glance, appear to be everyday, mundane objects is nothing short of brilliant. If B&H had a “Jay Maisel Eye” in their catalog, the owners would be multi-billionaires. Even his photos of kids, which rarely do anything for me, inspire and amaze me. He’s not a splashy, entertaining presenter but he doesn’t need to be, his photos speak for themselves.
Fay Sirkis presented The Eyes Are the Windows to the Soul. The beginning was slow and I was concerned when she said she was going to show us a technique that she applied to every photo. It turns out she’s a 1 trick pony but it’s a huge pony. I was impressed at the breadth and depth of information she was able to pack into a single tip. Her one technique had more product extensions than a MacDonald’s hamburger!
Jack Reznicki was, as usual, full of great tips, tricks and hints but, also as usual, he’s a photog, not an instructor. He was all over the place and it would have been difficult for less experienced photographers to follow. I had to laugh at the people using camera phones to try to capture his exact set-up instead of understanding the concepts.
Joe McNally was my favorite. He most reminded me of my own style: immediately useful tips and info presented in a rapidfire, humorous manner that always kept you on the edge of your seat. I really liked that Joe used V as his model instead of the typical, svelte, 20-something blonde. V was about 350 lbs of muscle and looked like a bouncer at a Las Vegas bar. He was amazingly agile and could leap into the air on cue for McNally.
There was only one disappointment during the day. It was obvious the instructor really didn’t know how to express themselves and convey their ideas. The one thing that surprises me is the lack of preparation most photographers put into their presentations. They don’t seem to understand that presenting an instructional lecture is a completely different animal. I’m also amazed at the frequency of equipment failures.
Today is slow until noon so I’ll be scrounging in the Expo area again. I’m really looking forward to 2 sessions with Ben Willmore, The Newest in HDR and Mastering Curves. PSW wraps up at 5PM this afternoon but a lot of it is, “Rah-rah, sign up for next year!”
One final point of philosophy. After one attends a number of these conferences, it becomes obvious that the tools change and the techniques get better but the desired results are always the same. We’re always looking for ways to get the most out of our art. Bottom line, it’s useful to come to these conference once in a while but don’t drink the Kool-Aid. It’s not Scott Kelby’s art, it’s YOUR art. If you find a way that works for you, don’t let the “next big thing” seduce you into trying something just for the sake of trying something new. This falls under my favorite Dr. Mits Tomita saying, “Keep an open mind but not so open that your brains fall out.”
Yesterday, I scored BIG TIME for my readers and webinar students. I went to many of the booths in the Expo and shook them down for prizes for Rob Sheppard’s webinar on Nov 14. At Nik Software, I got a promise of 15% off coupons. I still have to make arrangements with Nik after PSW so it’s not yet active. Then, I got a SUPER deal from the guys who market Topaz Labs software. They will extend the show price of $129 for the entire Topaz Suite ($339 value) to all my students. I also got a coupon good for a free copy (not trial) of any of their programs to give away during the webinar. It takes a lot to impress me with software but I can honestly say the Topaz stuff blew my socks off. It did things that my engineering, technical mind said couldn’t be done. I’ll have a complte writeup on some of their modules over the next few weeks.
Finally, under the heading of “It Don’t Get No Gooder’n This”, I scored a FREE (as in gratis, zero, zip, nada, nothing, no cost) Black Rapid camera strap. You, in the back, STOP yawning! You think camera straps are boring? Well, citizen, take a look at their site. Photos can’t do justice to how easy it is to carry AND deploy your camera using a Black Rapid system. I will give a FREE Black Rapid RS-4 to one lucky winner at Rob’s webinar.
The prize list keeps getting longer and the $49.95 Early Bird Special days keep getting shorter. Remember, the Early Bird Special pricing for Rob’s webinar ends sometime tomorrow, Sunday or Monday depending on when I have time to update the website.
Classes on tap for today include Location Lighting with Joe McNally, The Eyes are the Windows to the Soul with Fay Sirkis, ABCs of Digital Portraiture with Helene Glassman, Seeing the Light with Jack Reznicki, Light, Gesture and Color with Jay Maisel, One light for Real People with Jack Reznicki. Talk about an All-Star line-up. There are other classes in the Expo area but I’ll be busy shaking down more vendors. I’ll also be snagging PSW Workbooks (800 pages of Photoshop tips) and anything else that isn’t nailed down.
Photoshop World 2009, Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, Las Vegas, NV – Thursday, Oct 1, 2009
I’m posting this from my RV (named Arbey) in the south parking lot of Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas waiting for the first classes to start at 10:45AM. John Loiacono, SVP/GM, Adobe Creative Solutions Business Unit gave a keynote starting at 9AM but I was still drinking coffee. Besides, I’ve heard approximately 2 bazillion keynotes in my life and they all sound exactly the same – “Shish, boom, bam! Rah, rah, ree, kick’em in the knee! Rah, rah, rass, kick’em in the other knee!”
The classes I’ve selected today are Fixing Common Image Problems with Dave Cross, Mastering the New Adjustments and Masks Panel with Ben Willmore, Retouching Faces Step-by-Step and Digital Photographer’s Notebook with Kevin Ames, Lighting, Lenses, & Composition with David Ziser and Creative Lighting for the Digital Photographer with John Williamston. As you can see, these are some of the top pros in the field today so I’m anxious to get started.
Photoshop Elements webinar – What’s Included
Rob sent me an e-mail that gives a hint of what’s included in the webinar on Nov 14. First and foremost, many new PS (Photoshop) and PSE (Photoshop Elements) users don’t realize that PS was never intended to be a photography tool. PS was, and still is, designed for graphic artists. PSE was completely made over with PSE3 to be a photographer’s tool. Even the dark interface that some users complain about is meant to complement photos. PSE, combined with a few popular plug-ins (add-ons, like a 3rd party stereo system for your car) can do as much as PS but at a much lower cost and learning curve.
Rob has more points that I’ll elaborate over the next few days. In the meantime, because I don’t have time to change the pricing, the Early Bird Special price of $49.95 will be extended until this weekend. After that, the price goes to $59.95. Also, Early Birds get a choice of 3 different Early Bird gifts. If all that’s not enough to entice you, I’ll snag an extra copy of the Photoshop World Workbook as a drawing prize for the webinar. Click here to register now. We accept MasterCard, VISA, American Express and PayPal, all secured through PayPal at no cost to you.