Sunday, March 27, 2005

Pimp My Product

As I've been in love with photography since high school, I'm always looking for easy ways to improve my skills. I used to know all the stuff, f-stop, film speed, how to develop and print my own film, etc. I do miss that level of knowledge and involvement in the art. A photography course would be needed at this point to get me back up to speed as far as the complicated technical details go, but I've been enjoying the nifty tips and tricks at Camera Hacks.

Today I followed the suggestions in this post regarding the sharpening of digital photos. I have a deep-seated envy of photographers that are able to produce incredibly crisp-looking images, whether through talent or their astronomically-priced cameras. In reading, I discovered that many digital cameras cause a 'soft-focus' effect that results in photos that are less sharp than film cameras. It then occurred to me that perhaps some of the skilled photographers were processing their digital photos in order to gain that beautifully crisp look I love so much.

I downloaded GIMP (which is a free and pretty nifty, well-rounded alternative to the wallet-gouging Photoshop) as well as the GIMP smart-sharpening script in the post. It took a bit of wrangling (GIMP requires two downloads, the runtime environment and the actual application), but installing the script is relatively easy to figure out. Don't be put off by the description of it being a bit-map editor; you can work on and save jpgs and other widely-used formats.

Once you've got the smart-sharpening script installed, to access it, open a picture in GIMP, and it's located under Script-Fu -> Photokit. It allows you to adjust the settings, as well as do it multiple times to one photo. Using different photos, I played around with it and got some stellar results. It will not help photos that are out-of-focus to begin with, but on some in-focus shots, the change was significant enough to be pretty amazed at what a difference it made.

Check it out; I used my Icicles pic to see if I could better improve in the photo what I had seen with my eye, the brilliant facets of the sun reflecting in the ice. Before and After. That was one run of the script on the default settings. The changes aren't exactly earth-shattering, but I notice enough of an improvement on the second that I'm quite thrilled with the result.

So try it out! I'm so excited to have a way to easily improve my photos. And.. if my internet connection wasn't so persnickity right now, I think I'd replace everything in my Flickr photostream with smart-sharpened copies.

Currently Playing...
Song: Suzanne Vega - World Before Columbus
Book: Everyday Magic: Spells & Rituals for Modern Living by Dorothy Morrison
Obsessing Over: iPods! Help me get one free by clicking here -- then get one yourself!

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