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Sharpening has a clear purpose. It makes a photograph appear more sharply focused, but what good are the many blurring and averaging filters? Blurring is something you actively avoid when shooting a photo. Averaging makes an image look like it was rendered in candle wax and melted. Why would you want to take an image with sharply focused details and gum it up? Because details are not always good. Especially when they're unflattering flaws that are ingrained into every square inch of exposed flesh. Entire multibillion dollar industries, cosmetics, dermatology, plastic surgery are founded on the principles that we just as soon withhold such details from public scrutiny.
So where focus is concerned, give me the eyes of an eagle, but make those around me blind. Photography only makes matters worse. Film adds grain, print adds texture, scanners add dust, digital cameras add noise. These artifacts are the relatively slight miscommunications inherent in the enormous translation from real life to the photographic image. Some photographic problems demand meticulous, painterly attention, as we reviewed back in the chapter on replace retouch and edit. But others just need a little bit of generalized focus removal.
That's when you bring in the likes of Gaussian Blur, Median and Reduce Noise, which not coincidentally are the topics of this chapter.
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