#63 Capture Sharpening
Whether you shoot and capture raw or JPEG images, you will find that all images need a certain level of capture sharpening in order to correct any softness of the image that results from capture. Later we will discuss output sharpening (in Tip #94) in order to complete the picture. Sharpening is tricky, as it is easy to over-sharpen photos. It is a good idea to proceed delicately and to spend adequate time learning how the sharpening tools work.
You can access the sharpening controls from the Develop module Detail panel (Figure 63a). To sharpen successfully, zoom the image to 100 percent to view the details. Next, click in the preview window to change the zoom of the preview. To change the area of the image revealed in the preview window either click and drag to reposition the image or select the Detail zoom level adjustment tool and hover over the image. As you hover over the image, the preview will be updated.
To begin the sharpening process, try one of the two sharpening presets in the left side Presets panel (Figure 63b):
Sharpen – Landscapes to add a moderate amount of overall sharpening while sharpening many of the smallest details of the image.
Sharpen – Portraits to add a moderate amount of overall sharpening while protecting the small details from being sharpened. The sharpening will be applied mostly to the areas of high contrast (like edges), but not to small details in the skin, which would be unflattering.
Next, modify the sharpening sliders to create the best sharpening mix. The best sharpening results from combining all four sliders. Let’s take a look at how each slider contributes to the sharpening process:
Amount– Controls the overall intensity of the sharpening. Be careful not to increase this amount too much, as it can lead to an unnatural look. If the amount goes into the red area of the slider, be sure to use the controls below (and the noise reduction controls, described in Technique #62) to scale back the sharpening.
Radius– Controls how far out from an edge the sharpening extends. A low radius setting keeps the sharpening close to the edge. A high radius setting expands the reach of the sharpening. If you notice a halo around the edges of your image, decrease the radius to reduce it.
Detail– Controls sharpening on small details. A low amount prevents the sharpening of small details, while a high number sharpens small details.
Masking– Controls where the sharpening is applied. The higher the number, the larger the mask, which limits the sharpening to the edges or to the areas of high contrast.