Almost all digital photographs benefit from some “sharpening” in your photo editing software. It can be especially important if you want to show crisp text on the page of a book. This is one of those basic steps that is easy to overlook but can make a huge difference in the quality and accuracy of the photos of your artist books.
Here are a few of my best tips for sharpening:
- Different cameras perform different levels of sharpening during “capture.” Some more than others. If you figure out how much sharpening is needed for your camera when you are shooting photos of your books you can most likely apply that same level of sharpening to all of your future book photos. Every camera will be different when it comes to this subjective subject.
- Play with the different Sharpen commands under the Filter menu to see which ones you like best. Look for sharp words or letters or crisp page edges.
- Sharpen with your image viewed at 100%, even if you only see a small fraction of your image on your screen.
- My favorite sharpening filter in Photoshop is “Unsharp Mask.” I always start with the numbers in the Unsharp Mask dialog box set at: 85 for Amount, 1 for Radius, 4 for Threshold. Then I slide the Amount slider back and forth until I get the result I want. Click the preview button on and off to see how things look before saving.
- Don’t try to sharpen an image that is out of focus. That never works. Reshoot instead.
- Don’t over sharpen your images You will get a “grainy” image or you may see “halos” around objects. Halos are a red/purple line that runs along a high contrast edge. Dark type on white paper is a great example of an area that is at risk of a halo.
- Always remember, for the best final product, it’s best to start off with the best quality image right out of the camera and make as few edits as possible. Too much sharpening will make your book look terrible. Even though Photoshop is magical, you are always one extra edit away from losing image quality.