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Its been well established that there is such a thing as too much of a good thing, and that certainly is the case when it comes to sharpening. Sharpening can dramatically improve the overall appearance and quality of your images, but not if you overdo it. With sharpening that's too aggressive, you'll get the dreaded sharpening halos. It seems that many photographers think that the only sharpening that involves halos is over-sharpening. The truth is, sharpening always involves halos. First, let me show you what I mean when I refer to a sharpening halo.
I'm going to apply some sharpening here, don't worry about which filter or settings I'm using at the moment. And I'm going to apply aggressive sharpening, a bit too much sharpening. And as you can see, if you look closely at this image, we're starting to see halos. So I'll go ahead and click on the branch area here, so we can see that in the preview in the unchart mask dialog in this case, and you'll that I have a bright halo on either side of the branch. That's a sharpening halo, and if I make that halo too large or too bright, then I run into significant problems, the image just looks wrong. Even with proper sharpening, you will be producing some level of halo by virtue of the fact that you'll be enhancing contrast along contrast edges in the image.
In effect, creating halos is exactly how sharpening works. The key is to make sure those halos aren't too large or too bright, so that they're not visible. You want them to be enhancing edges, not overpowering those edges. As you gain an understanding of the factors related to sharpening, you'll develop a sense of what settings are appropriate, and you'll be able to spot problematic halos with relative ease. Along the way, keep an eye out for halos. They are the number one indicator of a photographer who got too aggressive in sharpening a photographic image.
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