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30 Aug

Having read and looked at several articles and videos about commercial and car photography I have to express my frustration.

Where is the border between photography and visual art or advertisement….or plain lies.

Looking at what people photograph and afterwards do with the photos in Photoshop or similar programs, just unbelievable…and frustrating.

Where should we have our level of ambition? Of course just looking at two specific areas of photography but as discussed in the CPP course are alterations everywhere. Where should we aim? What is realistic to aim for…and what is realistic

Photos are not the truth anymore.

Definitely something I have to think about more deeply. Maybe trying to get “more strings on my guitar to play with” as we say here? Being able to get both a good photographer and a good photoshopist?

Is good photography without enhancement in the computer possible? Of course when looking at older work even there has been manipulations but I think there are worlds between alterations now and then.

Help! 🙂


Assignment 5 in DPP

12 Aug

Here comes the last assignment before assessment!


as always as a PDF


DPP Assignment 5 Andreas Fernandez 510766



The final goal: Your own homepage?

17 Jun

When looking at the result of the DPP course you of course also have to look at homepages.

I think at the stage that most of the people that take this course are a homepage is a goal. Maybe to represent you as an artist, maybe get you jobs or as a way of spreading your pictures among friends and colleagues.

I have so far done two homepages, first the stables:

And apart from the one here even

As you can imagine was the first one the hardest. WE wanted to have a page that represented us, my wife and me, tell visitors about the things that Nina dig with horses, training, which horses are on the farm and so on.

Most important was I think to get a good structure and invest a lot of time to see what you want to show and do that in a logical, easy to understand order.

After that, at least in our case, it was to “just” fill the pages with information, again not too much but easy to understand, and pictures to make it more attractive.

Of course, one thing to think about; it has to be easy to chance and update it!



We started of with looking at different designs and went from there.

Now after having started and almost finished the DPP course I have done a page just for me and as I wanted it to be easy to maintain and easy to keep updated it became a WordPress-page.

I thought also of it as a test page before maybe getting an own page with my own www-name.

There are several good advices in the course material, which I unfortunately had not read before I did the page (page 104) so I had to think myself and fortunately I was not that far off.
Probably now, after having it online a couple of weeks, my conclusions are….less is more.

You have to reduce, reduce, reduce to the absolute perfect pictures. No other pictures should be on your page.

Yesterday I read an article about specialisation in photography. Maybe not at the stage of experience I am on right now but I think I have to keep in mind. Concentrate on the areas you are good in. Experimenting and fun in your leisure time and when wanting to show the versatility of you as a photographer but when designing a page for you as a professional photographer show less and show that you know what you are doing.

When looking at other photographers in the area I live in one could clearly see the strengths and weaknesses of the photographers and that matched the experiences of customers that I talked to that had met them. Advantage and disadvantage with living in a small city. 🙂


DPP I – The final part

16 Jun

Now the day of the final part has come. Almost scary.

This part is about the finishing touches to the work one has done.

In other words: Post-post-processing.


Always a problem with pictures, maybe especially digital pictures, is the problem of losing them. It can be a mistake deleting them or “destroying” it by manipulating it beyond recognition and having done so on the original file and not a backup. With technique you always have the problem with computer- or hard drive-crashes.

So what should one do?

There are many possibilities, probably depending a little on how much data you collect.

Backups should in my opinion be on different media and if possible on different places.

The ranges from backup on DVD to external hard drives, cloud-services or having your own server and backing up on that one and in that case having the convenience if your house burns down your pictures are save.

Biggest problem is normally that one forgets to do it regularly and with that can be the loss bigger or smaller depending on luck.

I normally backup once a week with Lightroom and maybe once a month the pictures but that depends a little on how many and how important pictures I have taken during the last few days.

When looking at another aspect of backing up you have to consider in what format you do it. JPG? RAW? DNG? Nobody really knows if all the formats that are “readable” now will be readable in 20 years.


Printing is a science of itself I think.

Problems arise because you have to get the colours, sharpening, resolution and so on right.

Biggest problem is I guess to get the colours right because of the differences between the colours you see, you record with your camera, you see on-screen and you print.

A friend of mine, professional photographer, once said….the easiest way of dealing with that is to adjust the printer via your eye and comparing the result with the screen.

Problems here: Every ink and every paper has to get adjusted separately. I tried several times a photometer to adjust the printing and screen but it was not very satisfying. Probably because of the way I saw the object and saw the image and that the camera was not able to capture it the way I had seen it. Also different lighting situations in your office makes big differences in how the colours look.

I have come to the conclusions that you should stick to the original inks, if possible even the original paper. Otherwise, “Try and error.”

Sharpening – taken from Cambridge in Colour

16 Jun

I found two brilliant tutorials on sharpening and what happens on a pixel-base when sharpening.

Couldn’t hold myself to copy it because you understand the whole concept after you have read it.

When looking at the exercises we were asked to do it explains a lot when comparing it with the tutorials.

I took, as recommended, a portrait with several edges and contrast so that I could compare the different effects that sharpening at different levels had.

When looking at the screen I took the RAW-file and took the amount of sharpening from 0% to 150% in 25% steps. Other adjustments were not done such as Threshold, details, and so on. Between 50 and 75% sharpening was the level I liked the most thereafter getting halos around his hair straws. The original sharpening of 25% that is added by Lightroom was absolutely fine, maybe a little sub-optimal.
Thereafter I printed 0-125% on a A3+-ark in order to be able to compare it an easy and smooth way. There you could see that even 125% was ok to look at. My wife did not see any particular differences in the six pictures. Of course were the pictures around 12cm high, in other words not that much but even looking at it at different distances, angles and with the help of a magnifying glas did not show very many differences between the versions.

After that I read the Cambridge in Colour article and and their information now gave sense to my observations.

So in short

You have to adjust radius, amount threshold, … depending on what the image shows and the quality of it.

Depending on where to use it. maybe around 50% for screen, 100 or more for print, !!! when reducing the image size for the web you have to add a little sharpening at a radius of ca. 0,2 px.

Try and error!!!!


Image sharpening is a powerful tool for emphasizing texture and drawing viewer focus. It’s also required of any digital photo at some point — whether you’re aware it’s been applied or not. Digital camera sensors and lenses always blur an image to some degree, for example, and this requires correction. However, not all sharpening techniques are created equal. When performed too aggressively, unsightly sharpening artifacts may appear. On the other hand, when done correctly, sharpening can often improve apparent image quality even more so than upgrading to a high-end camera lens.

Sharp Cacti

sharp cacti at the Huntington Gardens – Pasadena, California


Most image sharpening software tools work by applying something called an “unsharp mask,” which despite its name, actually acts to sharpen an image. Although this tool is thoroughly covered in the unsharp mask tutorial, in a nutshell it works by exaggerating the brightness difference along edges within an image:

Photo of the letter “T”
Original Sharpened

Note that while the sharpening process isn’t able to reconstruct the ideal image above, it is able to create the appearance of a more pronounced edge (see sharpness: acutance & resolution). The key to effective sharpening is walking the delicate balance between making edges appear sufficiently pronounced, while also minimizing visible under and overshoots (called “sharpening halos”).

unsharpened originalSoft Original
sharpMild Sharpening
oversharpenedOver Sharpening

note: all images shown at 200% zoom to improve visibility


Fortunately, most of the sharpening settings within image-editing software are reasonably standardized. One can usually adjust at least three settings:

Setting How It Works
Radius Controls the size of the edges you wish to enhance, where a smaller radius enhances smaller-scale detail. You’ll usually want a radius setting that is comparable to the size of the smallest detail within your image.
Amount Controls the overall strength of the sharpening effect, and is usually listed as a percentage. A good starting point is often a value of 100%.
Controls the minimum brightness change that will be sharpened. This can be used to sharpen more pronounced edges, while leaving more subtle edges untouched. It’s especially useful to avoid sharpening noise.
(if avail.)
Controls the relative sharpening of fine versus coarse detail (within a given radius value), in addition to affecting the overall strength of sharpening. Higher values emphasize fine detail, but also increase the overall sharpening effect. You will therefore likely need to adjust this setting in conjunction with the amount/percent setting.

It’s generally advisable to first optimize the radius setting, then to adjust the amount, and then finally to fine-tune the results by adjusting the threshold/masking setting (and potentially other settings such as “detail”). Optimal results may require a few iterations.


Most photographers now agree that sharpening is most effective and flexible when it’s applied more than once during image editing. Each stage of the sharpening process can be categorized as follows:

Capture Sharpening Creative Sharpening Output Sharpening
scanner Camera camera lens LCD screen Printer
Accounts for your image’s source device, along with any detail & noise characteristics Uniquely accounts for your image’s content & artistic intent Accounts for final output medium, after editing/resizing

(1) Capture sharpening aims to address any blurring caused by your image’s source, while also taking image noise and detail into consideration. With digital cameras, such blurring is caused by the camera sensor’s anti-aliasing filter and demosaicing process, in addition to your camera’s lens. Capture sharpening is required for virtually all digital images, and may be applied automatically by the camera for photos which are saved as JPEG files. It also ensures the image will respond well to subsequent rounds of sharpening.

(2) Creative sharpening is usually applied selectively, based on artistic intent and/or image content. For example, you might not want to apply additional sharpening to a smooth sky or a person’s skin, but you may want to crank up the sharpness in foliage or a person’s eye lashes, respectively. Overall though, its use may vary wildly from photo to photo, so creative sharpening is really a “catch all” category. It’s also the least used stage since it can also be the most time-consuming.

(3) Output sharpening uses settings customized for a particular output device, and is applied at the very end of the image editing workflow. This may include special considerations based the size, type and viewing distance of a print, but it can also be used to offset any softening caused by resizing an image for the web or e-mail.

Overall, the above sharpening workflow has the convenience of being able to save edited images at a near-final stage. When printing or sharing one of these images, all that is needed is a quick top-off pass of sharpening for the output device. On the other hand, if all sharpening were applied in a single step, then all image editing would have to be re-done every time you wished share/print the photo using a different output device.

Note: the above capture, creative and output sharpening terminology was formally introduced in
Real World Image Sharpening by Bruce Fraser & Jeff Schewe. Highly recommended.


Capture sharpening is usually applied during the RAW development process. This can either occur automatically in your camera, when it saves the image as a JPEG, or it can occur manually using RAW software on your computer (such as Adobe Camera RAW – ACR, Lightroom or any other RAW software that may have come with your camera).

Automatic Capture Sharpening. Although most cameras automatically apply capture sharpening for JPEG photos, the amount will depend on your camera model and any custom settings you may have applied. Also be aware that the preset shooting modes will influence the amount of capture sharpening. For example, images taken in landscape mode are usually much sharper than those taken in portrait mode. Regardless, optimal capture sharpening requires shooting using the RAW file format, and applying the sharpening manually on your computer (see below).

Manual Capture Sharpening requires weighing the advantages of enhancing detail with the disadvantages of amplifying the appearance of image noise. First, to enhance detail, sharpen using a radius value that is comparable to the size of the smallest details. For example, the two images below have vastly different levels of fine detail, so their sharpening strategies will also need to differ:

photo with coarse detailCoarse (Low Frequency) Detail
Sharpening Radius: 0.8 pixels
photo with fine detailFine (High Frequency) Detail
Sharpening Radius: 0.4 pixels

Note: The sharpening radii described above are applied to the full resolution images
(and not to the downsized images shown above).

Shooting technique and/or the quality of your camera lens can also impact the necessary sharpening radius. Generally, well-focused images will require a sharpening radius of 1.0 or less, while slightly out of focus images may require a sharpening radius of 1.0 or greater. Regardless, capture sharpening rarely needs a radius greater than 2.0 pixels.

original soft photoSoft Original
sharpening radius too smallRadius Too Small
(0.2 pixels)
sharpening radius too largeRadius Too Large
(2.0 pixels)
optimal sharpening radiusRadius Just Right
(1.0 pixels)

When trying to identify an optimum sharpening radius, make sure to view a representative region within your image that contains the focal point and/or fine detail, and view it at 100% on-screen. Keep an eye on regions with high contrast edges, since these are also more susceptible to visible halo artifacts. Don’t fret over trying to get the radius “accurate” within 0.1 pixels; there’s an element of subjectivity to this process, and such small differences wouldn’t be distinguishable in a print.

When noise is pronounced, capture sharpening isn’t always able to be applied as aggressively and uniformly as desired. One often has to sacrifice sharpening some of the really subtle detail in exchange for not amplifying noise in otherwise smooth regions of the image. Using high values of the threshold or masking settings help ensure that sharpening is only applied to pronounced edges:

Without sharpening threshold/masking:
With sharpening threshold/masking:
Original Image Sharpening Mask Move your mouse over above images
to see the unsharpened original.

The value used for the “masking” setting used above was 25.

Note how the masking/threshold setting was chosen so that only the edges of the cactus leaves are sharpened (corresponding to the white portions of the sharpening mask above). Such a mask was chosen because it doesn’t worsen the appearance of image noise within the otherwise textureless areas of the image. Also note how image noise is more pronounced within the darker regions.

If image noise is particularly problematic, such as with darker tones and/or high ISO speeds, one might consider using a creative sharpening technique, or using a third-party noise reduction plug-in. At the time of this writing, common plug-ins include Neat Image, Noise Ninja, Grain Surgery & Noiseware. However, noise reduction should always be performed before sharpening, since sharpening will make noise removal less effective. One may therefore need to postpone sharpening during RAW development until noise reduction has been applied.


While creative sharpening can be thought of as just about any sharpening which is performed between capture and output sharpening, its most common use is to selectively sharpen regions of a photograph. This can be done to avoid amplifying image noise within smooth areas of a photo, or to draw viewer attention to specific subjects. For example, with portraits one may want to sharpen an eye lash without also roughening the texture of skin, or with landscapes, to sharpen the foliage without also roughening the sky.

The key to performing such selective sharpening is the creation of a mask, which is just a way of specifying where and by how much the creative sharpening should be applied. Unlike with the output sharpening example, this mask may need to be manually created. An example of using a mask for creative sharpening is shown below:

Sharpening Mask:
Image Used for Creative Sharpening
Move your mouse over the image to see
selective blurring applied to background
Selective Sharpening Using a MaskTop layer has creative sharpening applied; mask ensures this is only applied to the white regions.

To apply selective sharpening using a mask:

  1. Sharpen Duplicate. Make a duplicate of your image (with capture sharpening and all other editing applied), then apply creative sharpening to the entire image. This sharpening can be very aggressive since you can always fine-tune it later.
  2. Create Mask. In Photoshop, use the menus Layer > New > Layer…, or the Shift+Ctrl+N keys.
  3. Paint Mask. Select the layer mask (by left-clicking on it). Paint regions of the image with white and/or black when you want creative sharpening to remain visible or hidden in the final image, respectively. Shades of gray will act partially.
  4. Fine-Tune. Reduce the opacity of the top layer if you want to lessen the influence of creative sharpening. You can also change the blending mode of this layer to “Luminosity” to reduce color artifacts.

Alternatively, sometimes the best technique for selectively sharpening a subject is to just blur everything else. The relative sharpness difference will increase — making the subject appear much sharper — while also avoiding over-sharpening. It can also lessen the impact of a distracting background. Move your mouse over the top left image to see this technique applied to the previous example.

Another way of achieving the same results is to use a brush, such as a history, “sharpen more” or blurring brush. This can often be simpler than dealing with layers and masks. Sometimes this type of creative sharpening can even be applied along with RAW development by using an adjustment brush in ACR or Lightroom, amongst others.

Overall, the options for creative sharpening are virtually limitless. Some photographers also apply local contrast enhancement (aka “clarity” in Photoshop) during this stage, although one could argue that this technique falls into a different category altogether (even though it still uses the unsharp mask tool).


After capture and creative sharpening, an image should look nice and sharp on-screen. However, this usually isn’t enough to produce a sharp print. The image may have also been softened due to digital photo enlargement. Output sharpening therefore often requires a big leap of faith, since it’s nearly impossible to judge whether an image is appropriately sharpened for a given print just by viewing it on your computer screen. In fact, effective output sharpening often makes an on-screen image look harsh or brittle:

Original Image Output Sharpening Applied
for On-Screen Display
Output Sharpening Applied
for a 300 PPI Glossy Print

Photograph of the Duomo at dusk – Florence, Italy (f/11.0 for 8.0 sec at 150 mm and ISO 200)

Output sharpening therefore relies on rule of thumb estimates for the amount/radius based on the (i) size and viewing distance of the print, (ii) resolution of the print (in DPI/PPI), (iii) type of printer and (iv) type of paper. Such estimates are often built into RAW development or image editing software, but these usually assume that the image has already had capture sharpening applied (i.e., it looks sharp when viewed on-screen).

Alternatively, one can also estimate the radius manually using the calculator below:

Viewing Distance*

 default: 25 cm 10 cm 50 cm 1 m 5 m 10 m 100 m 500 m default: 25 cm

Print ResolutionPPI**

Estimated Sharpening Radius

**PPI = pixels per inch; see tutorial on “Digital Camera Pixels.” DPI is often used interchangeably with PPI, although strictly speaking, the two terms can have different meanings.
*It’s generally a good estimate to assume that people will be viewing a print at a distance which is roughly equal to the distance along the print’s diagonal.

The above radius estimates should only be taken as a rough guideline. In general, a larger viewing distance demands a larger output sharpening radius. The key is to have this radius small enough that it is near the limit of what our eyes can resolve (at the expected viewing distance), but is also large enough that it visibly improves sharpness.

Regardless, the necessary amount of sharpening will still likely depend on the image content, type of paper, printer type and the look you want to achieve. For example, matte/canvas papers often require more aggressive sharpening than glossy paper. A good starting point is always the default amount/percent value used by your image editing software. However, for mission-critical prints this best solution is often just trial and error. To save costs, you can always print a cropped sample instead of the full print.


Even if an image already looks sharp when viewed on-screen, resizing it to less than 50% of its original size often removes any existing sharpening halos. One usually needs to apply output sharpening to offset this effect:

Original Image Softer Downsized Image
Downsized Image
(after output sharpening)

Move your mouse over the buttons on the right to see the effect of output sharpening.

For downsized images, an unsharp mask radius of 0.2-0.3 and an amount of 200-400% works almost universally well. With such a small radius value, one doesn’t have to worry about halo artifacts, although new problems such as aliasing/pixelation and moiré may become apparent if the amount/percent is set too high.

For more on image downsizing, see the tutorial on image resizing for the web and e-mail.


  • Sharpening is irreversible; also save unsharpened originals whenever possible.
  • RAW & TIFF files respond much better to sharpening than JPEG files, since the former preserve more detail. Further, sharpening may amplify JPEG compression artifacts.
  • Blurring due to subject motion or some types of camera shake may require advanced techniques such as deconvolution or Photoshop’s “smart sharpen” tool.
  • Some camera lenses do not blur objects equally in all directions (see tutorial on camera lens quality – astigmatisms). This type of blur tends to increase further from the center of the image, and may be in a direction which is either (i) away from the image’s center or (ii) perpendicular to that direction. This can be extremely difficult to remove, and usually requires creative sharpening.
  • Images will often appear sharper if you also remove chromatic aberrations during RAW development. This option can be found under the “lens corrections” menu in Adobe Camera RAW, although most recent photo editing software offers a similar feature.
  • Grossly over-sharpened images can sometimes be partially recovered in Photoshop by (i) duplicating the layer, (ii) applying a gaussian blur of 0.2-0.5 pixels to this layer 2-5 times, (iii) setting the blending mode of this top layer to “darken” and (iv) potentially decreasing the layer’s opacity to reduce the effect.
  • The light sharpening halos are often more objectionable than the dark ones; advanced sharpening techniques sometimes get away with more aggressive sharpening by reducing the prominence of the former.
  • Don’t get too caught up with scrutinizing all the fine detail. Better photos (and more fun) can usually be achieved if this time is spent elsewhere.


If you’re thirsting for additional examples, along with a more thorough technical treatment of the above topics, a great book is Real World Image Sharpening (2nd Edition) by Bruce Fraser & Jeff Schewe.

Want to learn more? Discuss this and other articles in our digital photography forums.

Digital photographic practice – Assignment 4: real or fake

5 Jun

Here, a few weeks too late as I forgot to load it up the fourth assignment of the DPP course.

DPP Assignment 4 Andreas Fernandez 510766-2

Way to assignment 4 for DPP

5 Jun

My tutor recommended to show the thoughts I had on my way to assignment number four of the digital photographic practice.

The assignment was to create a cover for a newspaper, magazine or book and use different techniques to alter the picture.

Finding a suitable cover-idea was very hard and at the beginning I thought about a criminal novel with a main character lighting a cigarette while leaning against the wall.

As one can see was my wife again the stand-in-model for the testing armed with a hat to give a little Humphrey Bogart feel.

I don’t really know why I left this idea but went on to maybe just use pictures from the net and showing e.g. an aquarium through a window, that would have meant using the windowframe and use the picture from the sea in a layer below to give the impression of looking right into the sea.

The result was not what I wanted to come to.

Next were two ideas I had about a corridor in our house.

The first one showing a person standing in backlighting with swords or pistols in hand, taking the idea from the cyberpunk-movement. The corridor would have been altered in a way to look like a tunnel or just a gradient from gray to black. Neither the figure or my photoshopskills were somewhere near what was needed to get a satisfactory outcome.

After that, still in the corridor but inspired by all the “ghosthunter” series on tv I thought about having a person going through a corridor and “into the light”. That worked quite well as the test shots show but then my final idea hit me and I went with that.

Final image

Final image