Old 05-31-2007, 03:17 PM   #1
Rich K
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Default Sharpening help

I am having absolutely no luck getting the hang of sharpening pictures as it relates to this site. My pictures are constantly rejected as either undersharp or oversharp. I have tried sharpening using USM in Photoshop Elements 5.9 as well as in IrafanView. I have even tried a payware filter called Magic Sharpener with no luck.

Can someone PLEASE give me an idea as to how to know when a RAILROAD RELATED photo is the correct sharpness? I am becoming really frustrated over this idea of sharpening.

here is an example . . .

Undersharp reject
http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...&key=276012512

Oversharp reject
http://www.railpictures.net/viewreje...&key=775106458

Thanks in advance

Rich K
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Old 05-31-2007, 04:16 PM   #2
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first of all, try some settings halfway between the ones you used for those two! Actually, that is not a joke, try it.

Second, I use Elements 3 and my standard initial settings are 75/0.6/0 in Unsharp Mask. This assumes a file that has been sized down to 1024x700 or so, at the very end of my image processing. This has worked for me whether I was staring off with a 4mp jpg out of a digicam or an 8mp RAW file out of a DSLR.

Third, it's always hard to tell by looking only at finished products, but I wonder about the image quality in the original file, as to how sharp the original capture was. The undersharpened one doesn't look so great, especially in the ballast, so it isn't clear the detail is there to sharpen. What camera and settings did you use?

EDIT: Fourth, what changed between you accepted images here and this one?
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Old 05-31-2007, 05:50 PM   #3
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Here's the much-referred to, oft-linked to gold mine of sharpening how-tos by alot of regular forum member contributors:

http://www.railpictures.net/forums/s...ead.php?t=4522
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Old 05-31-2007, 08:42 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JRMDC
..... it's always hard to tell by looking only at finished products, but I wonder about the image quality in the original file, as to how sharp the original capture was. The undersharpened one doesn't look so great, especially in the ballast, so it isn't clear the detail is there to sharpen. What camera and settings did you use?

EDIT: Fourth, what changed between you accepted images here and this one?
Camera is a SONY A100 DSLR 10.2 megapixel. Shot was taken in RAW format. I have double checked the camera settings and nothing is different there. I do not use anyin camera processing BTW.

The biggest difference is I am now trying to use (and struggling with) Photoshop Elements which I purchased a few days ago and I seem to be more confused than when I kept it simple with Picasa and IrfanView. I can't seem to determine where the line is between adequate sharpening and oversharpening. I don't know what to look for specifically I guess.

I spent several hours looking at other pics on this site last night. I saw pictures that frankly looked similar to both of these rejects, and I have seen some that are so oversharpened and grainy IMHO that they looked like they were shot thru a layer of dust or sand.

What is the best gauge for determining correct sharpness? Is it the ballast, or the number boards, or some other combination?

Here is the original, with no processing other than converting to jpeg and sizing to post here.
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Old 05-31-2007, 10:12 PM   #5
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Read the thread I linked to above, try out some other folks' techniques and see what works best for you...
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Old 06-01-2007, 12:00 AM   #6
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Filter, Sharpen, Unsharp Mask with settings of 70/0.6/0 looks good to me. Well, the ballast looks a bit funny, maybe there is just a type of ballast there I am not used to, but the train looks good and the grass looks good.
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Old 06-01-2007, 12:09 AM   #7
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Rich,

Your rejected shots look like your workflow is way to aggressive...may using the Auto features or too much contrast or something...are those the result of PS Elements?!? They're looking like point-n-shoot-type results, definitely not representative of a 10.2MP Sony dSLR. J's version looks good, looks natural, not overprocessed...
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Old 06-01-2007, 01:40 AM   #8
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I totally agree with Ween, I didnt believe you when you sayed it was 10.2 MP. The untouched version you uploaded even has jaggies on the plow grab iron. Do you have sharpen settings on the camera?

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Old 06-01-2007, 01:50 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
Rich,

Your rejected shots look like your workflow is way to aggressive...may using the Auto features or too much contrast or something...are those the result of PS Elements?!? They're looking like point-n-shoot-type results, definitely not representative of a 10.2MP Sony dSLR. J's version looks good, looks natural, not overprocessed...
Thanks, Chris!

I have to defend PS Elements, as that is what I used to do what I did (version 3). It's good software.

Rich, if I can get your file to work, so can you. Just keep learning about the software, and feel free to contact me via PM here if you have any questions.
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Old 06-01-2007, 02:56 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
Rich,

Your rejected shots look like your workflow is way to aggressive...may using the Auto features or too much contrast or something...are those the result of PS Elements?!?
Yes they are from my failed attemts to use Elements.

I would say that your are most likely correct about my over agressive workflow. I think I am still too enamoured with all the bells and whistles available in Elements. I have been voraciously reading everything I can find the time to read regarding it's use and I think I am trying to use all the toys just because I can, and thereby trying to fix some things that simly are not broken.

It appears the learning curve might be a little steeper than I thought.
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Old 06-01-2007, 03:07 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WisconsinCentral
The untouched version you uploaded even has jaggies on the plow grab iron. Do you have sharpen settings on the camera?

Alec
The camera has sharpening available, but I don't use any in camera processing. Should I?
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Old 06-01-2007, 03:10 AM   #12
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Quote:
I have to defend PS Elements, as that is what I used to do what I did (version 3). It's good software.
I know...in fact, I think it was Rich whi I recommended it to in a previous thread versus using Picasa or Irfanview for processing photos. I was more getting at the fact that the rejected shots he linked to don't represent what a 10MP dSLR and PS Elements are capable of...

For your workflow, Rich, it's gonna have to fall under the concept of driving slower is actually a faster way around the track sometimes. All the bells & whistles are fine, but keep it simple at first.

Start with basic brghtness/contrast, saturation, USM, resizing, USM.

As you get more comfortable, then you can bring other things in like shadow/highlight, curves, levels, selective color, exposure/gamma, vignetting, using layers, etc. to tweak your shots.

Small steps at first, then as you get comfortable, it's time to try a new goodie...
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Old 06-01-2007, 06:56 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ween
For your workflow, Rich, it's gonna have to fall under the concept of driving slower is actually a faster way around the track sometimes. All the bells & whistles are fine, but keep it simple at first.

Start with basic brghtness/contrast, saturation, USM, resizing, USM.
I took your advice and started over again with this picture. This time I used the new Camera Raw 4.1 just released to convert from RAW. I then took my time and only tweaked some of the basics as you suggest.

The result is that the picture was accepted into database!

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=188953

Thank you, all of you, for the help and encouragement.
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Old 06-01-2007, 12:57 PM   #14
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Nice job Rich. Ya, the sharpen settings on any camera should usually (from my knowledge) be set right in the middle of none to full, and if that doesnt do too hot, I would recommend taking the sharpen as low as it can go. Course', we have different cameras, so I cant tell you for sure, but usually its not good to have the sharpen on a high level.

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Old 06-03-2007, 06:02 PM   #15
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Just wanted to update all of you who have been so helpful in contributing advice and encouragement to my progress in learning to use Photoshop Elements 5.0

I have begun to understand at least some of the concepts and techiques, and I have to keep reminding myself to take it slow and not get too carried away with all the goodies. Today I post processed this photo I took back in April using PE 5.0.

http://www.railpictures.net/viewphoto.php?id=189191

I don't like the way grassy areas look sometimes after sharpening, so I learned to use a mask to exclude the grass on the lower left of the photo from the unsharp mask process. Using the mask seems to have kept the grass slightly soft, which I thing is more natural looking.

It sure was a nice feeling to finally get a picture accepted on the first try, with no rejects for anything!

Thanks to Ween in particular for suggasting I try Photoshop Elements, and to JRMDC for the sharpening tips.
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Old 06-03-2007, 06:15 PM   #16
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No worries, Rich! No need for someone to re-invent the wheel when they're getting started, whether it be with a dSLR, edotting software, workflow techniques, etc. Always glad to help...
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