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Author Topic: Sharpening and mid-tone contrast  (Read 13435 times)
digitalshiver
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« on: June 06, 2008, 10:22:31 AM »
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In Real World Sharpening Bruce Fraser says:

"...if you plan to use the midtone contrast boost I described in the previous chapter...I strongly recommend you do so before applying [capture] sharpening, because midtone contrast has a major impact on perceived sharpness" (p. 160)

But his book assumes I am sharpening by hand, and can decide on sharpening amounts as I proceed with an entirely manual process.

If I'm using PhotoKit Sharpener for capture sharpen, shouldn't I run it before mid-tone contrast because it is a relatively automatic process which I will always apply to all images. After that, I can do mid-tone boosting manually (the high-pass/overlay method) and determine the right amount by eye and by test-printing.

Is this correct? Should I reverse Bruce's recommendation, leaving the by-hand, judgement-based process for last?

Or not. I tend to over-think things.

Thanks in advance!

Charles
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2008, 12:53:21 PM »
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In Real World Sharpening Bruce Fraser says:

"...if you plan to use the midtone contrast boost I described in the previous chapter...I strongly recommend you do so before applying [capture] sharpening, because midtone contrast has a major impact on perceived sharpness" (p. 160)

But his book assumes I am sharpening by hand, and can decide on sharpening amounts as I proceed with an entirely manual process.

If I'm using PhotoKit Sharpener for capture sharpen, shouldn't I run it before mid-tone contrast because it is a relatively automatic process which I will always apply to all images. After that, I can do mid-tone boosting manually (the high-pass/overlay method) and determine the right amount by eye and by test-printing.

Is this correct? Should I reverse Bruce's recommendation, leaving the by-hand, judgement-based process for last?

Or not. I tend to over-think things.

Thanks in advance!

Charles
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1. Using PK Sharpener is deploying an automated script, but you can change it's impact by hand using the opacities of the overall, light and dark layers. This fact does not have any bearing on correct workflow.

2. Use Bruce Fraser's advice - in light of what I just said above, capture sharpening is capture sharpening whether you do it with an automated script, or by hand, or both.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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digitalshiver
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« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2008, 01:08:57 PM »
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Right. Thanks,  Mark.

I do understand that. There's some vagueness in my question. Thanks for pushing more clarity into it.

I'm wondering if one of those two procedures is more fundamentally suited to coming first in a work flow.

Charles
« Last Edit: June 06, 2008, 01:10:25 PM by digitalshiver » Logged
Mark D Segal
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« Reply #3 on: June 06, 2008, 01:55:39 PM »
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Right. Thanks,  Mark.

I do understand that. There's some vagueness in my question. Thanks for pushing more clarity into it.

I'm wondering if one of those two procedures is more fundamentally suited to coming first in a work flow.

Charles
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Charles, I don't think it matters much as long as you don't operate either of these procedures within the background layer of the image. PK Capture sharpen creates layers you can toss if you don't like the effect. For your mid-tone contrast boost, typically I do that using John-Paul Caponigro's technique, which applies it as a stamp layer in Overlay mode. If you use another technique which doesn't provide for such a layer, you can implement it on a duplicate image layer. Then you can experiment turning them on and off one at a time to see what looks best - remembering that your image maginfication needs to be set at 25%, 50%, 75% or 100%, otherwise Photoshop aliases the view and you don't really see what's happening. By the way, I would then top it all off with Output Sharpening, because the combination of Output Sharpening and Local contrast enhancement can cause much more of an over-sharpened appearance than that with Capture Sharpening. In their default settings, PK capture sharpening is usually much more gentle than the Output Sharpener for inkjet prints.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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KeithR
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« Reply #4 on: June 06, 2008, 05:28:17 PM »
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In Real World Sharpening Bruce Fraser says:

"...if you plan to use the midtone contrast boost I described in the previous chapter...I strongly recommend you do so before applying [capture] sharpening, because midtone contrast has a major impact on perceived sharpness" (p. 160)

But his book assumes I am sharpening by hand, and can decide on sharpening amounts as I proceed with an entirely manual process.

If I'm using PhotoKit Sharpener for capture sharpen, shouldn't I run it before mid-tone contrast because it is a relatively automatic process which I will always apply to all images. After that, I can do mid-tone boosting manually (the high-pass/overlay method) and determine the right amount by eye and by test-printing.

Is this correct? Should I reverse Bruce's recommendation, leaving the by-hand, judgement-based process for last?

Or not. I tend to over-think things.

Thanks in advance!

Charles
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I would agree with Mark on this, but I'd first ask where you would be applying the mid tone boost. If it's on a raw image and you're using Lightroom or ACR(v4.x) then the boost would be done in your raw converter before it is rendered. That may be a clue as to what to do.
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« Reply #5 on: June 06, 2008, 05:55:05 PM »
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I would agree with Mark on this, but I'd first ask where you would be applying the mid tone boost. If it's on a raw image and you're using Lightroom or ACR(v4.x) then the boost would be done in your raw converter before it is rendered. That may be a clue as to what to do.
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Keith, it can be done either in the raw processor (LR or ACR) using the Clarity slider, or it can be done in Photoshop. If in LR/ACR, it doesn't matter in what order you make these moves, because once you send the image to print or open it in Photoshop, LR/ACR processes all the settings in a logical order under the hood. We don't know what it is, but we don't need to worry about it. The usual advice in using ACR is "left to right" for the Tabs and "top to bottom" within the menus. This means you would hit Clarity before Sharpening if you have sharpening turned off by default. SO following that workflow, you would adjust Clarity if you want it, then in Sharpening, magnify the image to 100% and add sharpening to taste. But you could do the latter first, then go back to Clarity. ACR/LR will still process everything in the correct order. So it all depends on us the users and liking or not liking what we see as we use these controls. In ACR/LR, and the way I suggested working in PS, it is all easily "undo-able". I tend to use neither Clarity nor Sharpening in ACR unless I intend to open the image into PS as a Smart Object, or unless I'm very confident that a positive Clarity settings is really what the image needs and it's most efficiently done before rendering.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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digitalshiver
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« Reply #6 on: June 06, 2008, 07:34:38 PM »
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Keith & Mark:

As I discuss it, I agree with you both about the order of this not being critical, especially since it's undoable.  Bruce was saying to make large tonal moves before capture sharpening in general, and I guess mid-tone contrast is a large tonal move, which would put it first.

I am boosting mid-tone contrast in photoshop, because I shoot with a noisy old Canon 10D, so I move the Raw file out of LightRoom and into photoshop to use the Noiseware plug-in. My thought was I should address noise before sharpening. For that reason I don't use Clarity in lightroom, because it is technically a sharpening move.

I'm new to all this. I've been reading various articles and watching the Jeff/Michael videos for weeks. Your questions and comments are a huge help.

I think I'm not clear on the difference between "mid-tone" contrast, compared to "local area" contrast, or if they are the same thing. At times I hear the terms used interchangeably, and at times they are mentioned as distinct and separate procedures. The learning continues...

Thank you both very much! I'm feeling confident about this workflow question now.

Charles
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #7 on: June 06, 2008, 07:57:23 PM »
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Charles, good - glad to be of assistance. Indeed, "mid-tone contrast" and "local contrast enhancement" mean about the same thing because the effect is to cause very localized enhancements of tone differences over the mid-tone area of the image. There are several techniques each producing a similar but slightly different effect. But in general your procedure makes sense. When dealing with noisy files it's best to get rid of the noise with a professional-strength tool like Noiseware, then do the sharpening and local contrast stuff.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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gmitchel
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« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2008, 12:15:57 PM »
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A couple of points/suggestions . . .

(1) You can use High Pass for a midtone contrast boost (MR calls this Local Contrast Enhancement, BTW). The downside to using High Pass sharpening is color shifts. If you follow MR's suggestion and use USM with low Amount and high Radius settings, you can apply a Luminosity blend and avoid unwanted color shifts.

(2) If you use ACR or Lightroom for capture sharpening, you can use the Clarity slider for a midtone contrast boost. Otherwise, I would suggest that you treat midtone contrast boost as a form of creative sharpening. The goal of capture sharpening is to restore only the sharpness lost through digital capture and no more.

(3) You should perform noise reduction before capture sharpening. If noise becomes obvious after applying noise reduction, capture sharpening, *AND* then midtone contrast boost, then either (a) noise reduction was not sufficient or ( capture sharpening and/or the midtone contrast boost were too aggressive.

I apply LCE to nearly every photograph. I apply it after noise reduction, capture sharpening, and adjustments to tone and color are complete. It will definitely affect the image visually. It works well as a haze buster. It adds some additional perceived sharpness, especially among finer details.

Cheers,

Mitch
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mdijb
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« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2008, 01:07:32 PM »
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There is reference to method of midtone contrast enhancement by JP Caponigro above.  I tried to locate that on his website but cannot.

Can you supply a link to this method.

I would also call attention a piece of software call Enhancer written by Akvis that I have found very useful.  It is easy to overdo it with this program, but with opacity adjustments or layer masks, it can be controlled very nicely. I have looked at other pies of sofware that do this, but this seems to work the best for me.  Here is the link.

http://akvis.com/en/enhancer/index.php



MDIJB
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« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2008, 01:55:13 PM »
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There is reference to method of midtone contrast enhancement by JP Caponigro above.  I tried to locate that on his website but cannot.

Can you supply a link to this method.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=200311\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

If you subscribe to his "Insights" (free) on his website you will be given access to that and a whole lot more stuff - extremely useful.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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digitalshiver
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« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2008, 05:16:11 PM »
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excellent info. thank you all. headed to Caponigro's site now. Thanks gmitchel, I was unaware of the color shift issue.

charles
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« Reply #12 on: June 08, 2008, 05:06:36 AM »
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Heres the midtone contrast action I use most often -

scroll down to L16.25

which includes a desturate move.
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mdijb
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« Reply #13 on: June 08, 2008, 04:18:56 PM »
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I subscribed and cannot any find any artcle related to midtone contrast.  Can you be more specific?

Thanks

MDIJB



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If you subscribe to his "Insights" (free) on his website you will be given access to that and a whole lot more stuff - extremely useful.
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Mark D Segal
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« Reply #14 on: June 08, 2008, 04:31:03 PM »
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I subscribed and cannot any find any artcle related to midtone contrast.  Can you be more specific?

Thanks

MDIJB
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Go to Downloads/Technique/High Pass Contrast. That's the one.
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Mark D Segal (formerly MarkDS)
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