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DPChallenge Forums >> Current Challenge >> Focus or unsharpened.
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05/07/2005 03:15:55 PM · #1
I am getting tons of comments about focus on an entry which was in dead on focus and where the depth of field was much deeper than the subject by far and the picture was taken using a tripod and delayed trigger. In digital photographic post processing, it is common to sharpen borders by lightening the pixels on the light side of the border and darkening pixels on the dark side of the border. Too much of this produces halos. Without the sharpening, borders may appear to the eye as blurry. This is especially true where there are curves or small differences in tonality / color. In such cases, the borders are not that easily distinguished and may be thought to be blurry when not so when one takes into account how digital cameras determine the tonal and color values for each pixel.

In my case, I could have / should have sharpened just a hair sharper. It does not make too much difference in that it was not a very interesting picture to begin with. It does bother me though to get comments from very, very, good photographers on this site who cannot distinguish focus blur, motion blur, and inadequate sharpening.

When something is out of focus, there is a circle of confusion around each point of light, which leads to bands of compromise on the borders between larger objects and actual circles around very small points of light. These out of focus halos are not the same as sharpening halos as they appear as a single band of an exact compromise between the colors and tonalities of the objects on either side of the border. Sharpening haloes appear as two separating bands one lighter than the light side on the light side of the border, and one darker than the dark side on the dark side of the border.

Another usage of the word focus is that point to which the photographer wishes to direct the viewer's eye. This word derived from the focal point of a lens. As with a lens, there is a depth of field to the focal point of a picture and to that which the picture focuses on -- which may include everything in the picture. For example, a picture may contain five objects of equal importance, not all in the same location.

Message edited by author 2005-05-07 15:19:09.
05/07/2005 03:26:04 PM · #2
I think in the DPC world, there is way to much emphasis placed on sharpness of images anyways. If you peruse almost any copy of a fine photography magazine such as Lenswork you will find many, if not a majority of images that are very soft, but still in focus. When photographers try to bring that soft perspective here, they are shot down almost always and that IMHO is a shame...
05/07/2005 03:30:39 PM · #3
I personally do like a nice sharp image, unless I can obviously tell that it was unfocused on purpose. If an image is close, but not quite in focus, I tend to think that it's supposed to be in, but for whatever reason it isn't. And as for diffused focus, as usend in MANY pro pics, you can still tell that the image is in focus but has been softened on purpose. I think that some people try that effect and in their view succeed, but others aren't aware of the effect attempt and simply see it as unfocused. just my 2 cents...
05/07/2005 03:39:10 PM · #4
Originally posted by TooCool:

I think in the DPC world, there is way to much emphasis placed on sharpness of images anyways. If you peruse almost any copy of a fine photography magazine such as Lenswork you will find many, if not a majority of images that are very soft, but still in focus. When photographers try to bring that soft perspective here, they are shot down almost always and that IMHO is a shame...


I agree with you. Often its because they don't look well at the image. I don't really want to see reality - I see it every day. What I want to see is reality through your eyes.

Does monitor resolution have any influence on this?

d
05/07/2005 03:42:23 PM · #5
I think post processing should be used at a minimum. I am not sure why you sharpen a picture that you say is clearly in focus. I read what you wrote, but frankly to me it begins to look "overprocessed" and maybe the comments that say it is not in focus mean to say that it is overprocessed.
05/07/2005 03:46:37 PM · #6
Originally posted by mrsmaxsmart:

I think post processing should be used at a minimum. I am not sure why you sharpen a picture that you say is clearly in focus. I read what you wrote, but frankly to me it begins to look "overprocessed" and maybe the comments that say it is not in focus mean to say that it is overprocessed.


You are correct. However, by it's very nature, digital photography (or scans from film photography), even when in perfect focus, will be a little soft. When sharpened properly though, you will not be able to tell that it was digital and not film...

Message edited by author 2005-05-07 15:47:15.
05/07/2005 03:48:02 PM · #7
For me the whole issue is a personal thing, myself,I judge the focus on an Image as being perfect, only if I don't get the feeling that I am missing something important in the image.
Neat image overuse is my current beef, plastic skin,sand, or anything else looks different and unfortunatly catches the voters eye here, I dislike the effect and mark the image accordingly.
05/07/2005 03:49:01 PM · #8
Originally posted by mrsmaxsmart:

frankly to me it begins to look "overprocessed" and maybe the comments that say it is not in focus mean to say that it is overprocessed.


I would despair if that were actually the case. The commenters can't be that dumb, can they?
05/07/2005 03:51:07 PM · #9
All I can say is that DPC is a very technically oriented place. A lot of people go around with a list and check for things they think must be present in every photograph.
A lot of people don't respect other photographers. They undermine other people's work because they don't fall inside the walls they have built for themselves.
It seems to me that what's accepted as a good photograph requires to have certain characteristics that has nothing to do with what's presented by the photographer.

The photographer is in control and decides how to present the end result. When s/he does so, the comments are only predictable. You already know the checklist some are carrying. Instead of having a look and thinking what the image is about in your own terms, people are starting to find faults and tell you what's wrong with it. I don't know why people are so keen on finding faults. Maybe they honestly believe that they know better.

As the person who have made the decision to present it the way you wanted, knowing that it's what you wanted, it's best not to bother. But if you don't understand what it is that you are trying to do or have attempted to do and honestly asking for comments, take the crap and swallow.
05/07/2005 04:04:29 PM · #10
The reason you sharpen digital pictures is the eye is fooled by the pixel representation. Take any picture that you know to be in focus and unsharpened and zoom in on it to where you can just begin to see the individual pixels. You will see that each pixel along a curved edge has to take on some value which does not belong to either side of the edge. The eye perceives this as a blurred edge when you zoom out somewhat.

Sharpening tools work to fool the eye also by emphasizing the edge such as is done by outlining edges in drawings. If this is done judiciously, no visible haloes emerge and edges look sharper although actual content is lost (actually misrepresented.)

In fact, before you make a comment that a picture is out of focus, look at any edge and see if there is more than a single pixel's worth of confusion along the edge. Note: in addition, not all materials have the same hardness or softness to their edges.

Message edited by author 2005-05-07 16:55:06.
05/07/2005 04:05:08 PM · #11
Originally posted by xion:

All I can say is that DPC is a very technically oriented place. A lot of people go around with a list and check for things they think must be present in every photograph.
A lot of people don't respect other photographers. They undermine other people's work because they don't fall inside the walls they have built for themselves.
It seems to me that what's accepted as a good photograph requires to have certain characteristics that has nothing to do with what's presented by the photographer.

The photographer is in control and decides how to present the end result. When s/he does so, the comments are only predictable. You already know the checklist some are carrying. Instead of having a look and thinking what the image is about in your own terms, people are starting to find faults and tell you what's wrong with it. I don't know why people are so keen on finding faults. Maybe they honestly believe that they know better.

As the person who have made the decision to present it the way you wanted, knowing that it's what you wanted, it's best not to bother. But if you don't understand what it is that you are trying to do or have attempted to do and honestly asking for comments, take the crap and swallow.
text

What an incredibly precise, perceptive assessment. You have summed up why I don't get offended by ridiculous comments-they have no value. I find many ribbon winners simply fit the mold..and I worry that I will stop trying to see things, and rather will end up only trying to make my shots work-making the checklists. I have learned a fair bit from this site, am just scared that I may end up losing something along the way too. I have always loved imperfection.
05/07/2005 04:19:46 PM · #12
Originally posted by bucket:

Originally posted by xion:

All I can say is that DPC is a very technically oriented place. A lot of people go around with a list and check for things they think must be present in every photograph.
A lot of people don't respect other photographers. They undermine other people's work because they don't fall inside the walls they have built for themselves.
It seems to me that what's accepted as a good photograph requires to have certain characteristics that has nothing to do with what's presented by the photographer.

The photographer is in control and decides how to present the end result. When s/he does so, the comments are only predictable. You already know the checklist some are carrying. Instead of having a look and thinking what the image is about in your own terms, people are starting to find faults and tell you what's wrong with it. I don't know why people are so keen on finding faults. Maybe they honestly believe that they know better.

As the person who have made the decision to present it the way you wanted, knowing that it's what you wanted, it's best not to bother. But if you don't understand what it is that you are trying to do or have attempted to do and honestly asking for comments, take the crap and swallow.
text

What an incredibly precise, perceptive assessment. You have summed up why I don't get offended by ridiculous comments-they have no value. I find many ribbon winners simply fit the mold..and I worry that I will stop trying to see things, and rather will end up only trying to make my shots work-making the checklists. I have learned a fair bit from this site, am just scared that I may end up losing something along the way too. I have always loved imperfection.


i completely agree with you. i've found myself looking at photos i have taken and not liking what i see because they don't fit into the dpc-accepted mold of how an image should look.

when i first looked at this photo from a portrait shoot in Dec., i was disappointed in how soft it looked and with the slight motion blur...
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but, when i showed the proofs to the mother, this one was her absolute favorite. she ordered several prints in different sizes and an 11 x 14 print of it to be framed. i realized that it was the sense of movement that gave the image it's "life" and that's what was most important.
05/07/2005 04:43:47 PM · #13
Wow! Sher, Xion, Bucket, Thank you. Sincerely.

d
05/07/2005 06:32:29 PM · #14
shoot what you like - if one persons says 'wow' or whatever - you have done your job as a photographer. as xion pointed out, people, in general, seem to like to find fault in things. i don't think anyone is innocent of that fault ;}...

competition only adds fuel to the fire.


Message edited by author 2005-05-07 18:33:56.
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