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In this course, photographer and scanning expert Taz Tally describes how to use the LaserSoft Imaging SilverFast software to scan photos, line art, film negatives, and other printed documents, while getting the highest quality scans possible from your scanner. The course begins with an overview of SilverFast, then takes a task-oriented look at the SilverFast automatic and manual scanning modes, showing numerous scanning projects from start to finish. The course also explores a variety of specialized scanning topics, such as removing color casts and scratches, High Dynamic Range (HDR) scanning, and wet scanning.
Previously in the course, we talked about Sharpening. In this video, I'd like to just focus on Sharpening all by itself, because there're some details that you should know as you start to sharpen your images that can help really improve your image or damage your image if you're not careful. So, we're starting here with a black- and-white photograph of some tundra leaves and groundsel and I'm just going to magnify that so we can see what we're looking at here. You notice there's lots of detail in here that we can use for Sharpening. Now first just to remind you that whenever you capture an image, you digitize it with a scanner or a digital camera, it automatically softens the image.
Because basically you're taking what is a continuous tone view and converting it into relatively large pixels. So it loses some of the detail in the process of being captured. What I want to do here is just move my frame in, so we can see a before and after version with the Sharpening and then let's activate our Unsharp Mask tool. Just with the default settings; remember when you turn on a tool in SilverFast, it automatically displays the results on the inside of the frame and then you can turn the results off and on by clicking on that check box. But with just the default settings in here of 100, which is the same as the amount when we're working in Photoshop, a Radius of 1 and a Threshold of 1. So I don't forget to tell you and I know I mentioned this earlier but I typically use a Radius of 1 if I'm scanning an image close to a 1:1 ratio of like I'm scanning a 5x7 and creating a 5x7.If you're working with film, like a 120 piece of film or a 120 negative or a slide that's much, much smaller and you're going to be enlarging that up to 5x7 or 8x10, then you'll use larger radii of 2, 3 and sometimes 4 based upon how much magnification you're using.
But assuming we're going to scan and print at 1:1 here, we're going to leave the Radius at 1. What the Power or Amount controls is how much of an increase in edge contrast occurs when you're applying your sharpening. Well, a value of 100 implies this is going to be a 100% increase in edge contrast and that's how we create sharpness by the way is enhancing the contrast along high contrast edges. And you can see the default value of 100 % has a very nice impact on the image, you can see a lot more detail over here.
Notice as we move higher, let's go to 150, things look even sharper. Let's go to 200, things are even sharper. But the question is how high can you go? Well, first of all we're getting a pretty good view of what this sharpening looks like but if you really want to push the sharpening to its edges, let's go to the Expert tool here, so we can get a few more settings and then let's click on this 1:1. This is the Preview for sharpening and what this does is provides us with a very high-resolution view of the area that we're looking at and then we can move our view frame around in the navigator by doing this. All right! This is a good view because we get a chance to see some real high contrast edges here and let's go back down here to our Unsharp Mask tool and let's go back down to the default value of 100.
And notice with no sharpening at all that's what it looks like. With a sharpening of about 100, that's what it looks like. We take it up to 200, edges are even sharper but you'll notice we're starting to add too much texture. The texture is starting to look almost too unnatural. And remember, we're zoomed in, we take it up to 300, and at above 300 on this particular image, we start to see the impact of too much sharpening. It's called halos. If you look along the edge here you'll start to see the formation of halos along this edge.
When we take it over 400, not only does this really start to look unnatural but these white edges really start to come out and we take it all the way up to the maximum, which is 500 and you really start getting high contrast edge halos. And we're just looking here. Notice that all of this starts to look very textured, because we're actually adding a lot of texture to the image at this point. So, typically we would never go to 500%. On a lot of images, I will push it up to about 200% if they're high-quality images but there's something else that we can address here and that's called Threshold.
A couple of things I want to show you is Threshold and Oversharpen and then Sharpen up to. Let's do the Threshold first. We go to Threshold, we're saying what is the minimum amount of difference in grayscale value we want to have between two pixels before their sharpened, and the default is 1. On images where we have soft backgrounds like people's faces or solid colors, I may put this up as high as 3. For an image like this, a Threshold of 1 works pretty well on a landscape or a very high contrast macro shot like we have here.
The Oversharpen limit, let's take a look at this. When we drag the Oversharpen limit, we can see an impact of the Oversharpen limit, and let's put this up here so you can really see it, along the edge here and then as we drag it to the right, we start to lose that very high contrast edge. If you're trying to apply maximum amount of sharpening that you like what's going on in here but you don't like what's going along on the edge, then you can take your Oversharpen and raise it and try to soften that edge just a little bit.
And then finally, the Sharpen up to I want to show you, because this is going to have dramatic impacts on this particular image. With a lot of images, particularly if you have some solid black or dark shadow areas, there're two things that I like to use and one is Soft Shadows. I almost always turn that on, that is the areas in the image that are truly dark from three-quarter tone to shadow. That sharpening will not be applied to them, and I can further control where in the shadow sharpening is applied by backing off on my Sharpen up to.
My recommendation is take this to about 90% on most images and notice we don't get much of an impact in the highlight and midtone areas. But what this is going to do is prevent your scanner from applying too much sharpening in the shadow area, which tend to create graininess in your image. But if you drop below 80, then you start to see these areas flattening out particularly we have a lot of sharpening. So, what's my recommendation? Well, for high-quality, high contrast images, sharpening in the range of around 200 works pretty well, Threshold of 1-3, you can adjust your Oversharpening when you're zoomed in at the high contrast, and then the Sharpen up to somewhere between 90% and 95%, and you'll end up with a very, very good job of sharpening on very high contrast images.
So, there's my recommendation. This is a good value to use for high contrast, macro shots and landscape images and product shots as well. It's a good setting for product shots. For people's faces and places where you got lots of smooth areas, I would stick to 100-150 and I'd move my Threshold up between 2 and 3. So, there're some details on sharpening and just to reiterate what we talked about multiple times previously in the courses, you've got to decide whether you're going to do this during the scan like we are here or afterwards in Photoshop. Almost always my decision is to do this afterwards in Photoshop. Why? Because when you sharpen the image it's a permanent impact on that image and you're decreasing the tonal details in that image by doing that.
So, if you want to do some image editing after your scan, you really need to do sharpening as the very last thing that you apply to your image and typically I make a copy of my final edit and then sharpen that, so I can always go back to the unsharpened original.
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