This post was going to be about sharpening your images. Its effectiveness for maximising impact in your own photography, most especially when showing work for competitions.
And here’s an image, from a cell phone, to show how effective sharpening can be.
Except it doesn’t really work, because I processed it. I boosted the saturation and the contrast which, let’s face it, is the very definition of sharpening. The improvement in this image is attributed to a balanced effort of colour processing and additional sharpening which, if correctly applied, should be crisp without noticing any pixels!
So, the direction of the post has stepped back to the importance and effectiveness of processing your images.
I don’t know why but I am still surprised to find people who don’t process their images. They’re quite accepting of this fact and, a significant proportion, are quite proud of their images straight out of the camera.
I’ll state this clearly and concisely for the record – capture your photographs to the best of yours and your camera’s ability. Get the best light you can. if you need to and can move, do so, use a flash, whatever. Forgive my language, but you simply cannot polish a turd. Photoshop is not an excuse for your shortcomings at capture time. Don’t get me started on people ‘rescuing’ their images by converting to black and white. That’s another post entirely!
Where was I. Oh yes, those deluded people who don’t need to process their images…
If you’ve set up your camera’s picture mode for a bit of extra contrast, sharpening and, possibly, saturation. Or you’ve set Vivid or Landscape Mode, etc. You do realise you are post processing? Well, your camera is and at capture time. You don’t count in my subset of misguided photographers.
These days the sub set of cameras I consider extremely capable of capturing scenes properly is just ginormous. Literally the base to mid end of the compact camera market and cell phones comprise the sub par machines.
The principal reason for editing images is to exert your own particular style on your photographs and this has been going on in dark rooms well before the digital era.
Another reason for post processing is to compensate for the additional layers on top of your sensors. Colour cameras need to deduce colour and require a Beyer filter. In addition, your camera probably also has an Optical Low Pass Filter to correct colour and reduce moire patterning.
My camera is one of the few with a ‘naked’ sensor and still I would not consider putting forward unprocessed images.
Take this one. This image is as captured. No additional settings or processing, but a correct exposure.
My good friend, Jarret, drying his underwater housing for his Nikon D300
Processed with Silver Efex Pro 2
Try not to get distracted by my choice in processing. What is evident is the detail and textures that were present in the image data and 2 minutes of work has produced this markedly different result.
Here’s another example, again from my Monochrom.
These Underwater Photographers are constantly fiddling with their cameras!
Do get serious about processing your images. If you need pointers or assistance, let me know.