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Real World Sharpening

in Book Reviews , Wednesday, August 30, 2006

imagesharpening.jpg When I first saw that Bruce Fraser had written a new book on image sharpening with Adobe Photoshop, I had two thoughts - first, how does he resolve the potential conflict arising from his involvement with PixelGenius and the PhotoKit Sharpener product, and second, do we really need a complete book on sharpening ? Well, he deals with the first issue openly and quickly, and he completely avoids plugging PhotoKit in the book (actually, I think he could have allowed himself a few mentions!). The book is essentially tools-agnostic, which is great (although obviously it deals with Photoshop's particular implementations). The second question is answered by the book: I don't know if we needed a book on sharpening, but we needed this one. Bruce Fraser is a simply wonderful educator. He can transform extremely arcane topics into page-turners (as with his "Real World Color Management", and he has a sense of narrative, which some may think is unnecessary in technical books, but in fact transforms them, just like any other kind of written word. He also writes in a friendly and highly approachable style, quite unlike the tiresome "zany comedy" deployed by, say, Scott Kelby (maybe being treated like idiots appeals to Americans, I don't know, but it iritates me...). Obviously style is nothing without content, but that isn't an issue here. I don't think there is anything in this book that I hadn't already somehow heard of, but there are plenty of things I never really understood. Reading this book suddenly makes the use of the expert controls in Photoshop sharpening - and PhotoKit, of course, and indeed other software - much, much clearer. The discussion on evaluation sharpening on-screen is particularly illuminating. The other thing I really like is the equal handling of film and digital - whilst many would have ignored film altogether, Fraser gives it considerable attention. Actually I really would like to see some discussion on the use of Photokit, particularly as it applies to capture sharpening. The book strongly recommends masking at the capture sharpening stage, or at least avoiding sharpening areas of flat contrast (such as sky), and I'd be interested to know how much of this is "packaged" into Photokit. I'm sure it wouldn't upset Adobe too much, after all, you still need Photoshop. And on the other hand, various 3rd party noise reduction tools are mentioned. The only downsides to this book are that (a) I'm supposed to be moving house at the moment and I shouldn't be getting distracted with this stuff, and (b) I want to go back and resharpen every image in my collection, and (c) I have to question if my current habit of global capture sharpening in RAW Developer is such a good idea after all. If you want to get the best out of your photos, this book is very highly recommended.
Posted in category "Book Reviews" on Wednesday, August 30, 2006 at 01:46 PM

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