Alternative photo sharpening

One thing that is great and frustrating about Photoshop is the many ways to accomplish the same outcome.  Almost as if the original software designers mashed together different programs from different fields of work, making one big program but keeping all those unique pathways.  Even when you get a decent workflow there’s that lingering feeling in the back of your mind that somewhere, buried in the tools and menus, there’s a better way or a more effective means.

Sharpening is my photography quirk.  I want my landscapes and nature photos to show fine detail at all scales – down to the molecular level if possible!  So, I’m always looking for sharpening methods that give me better results, even when the workflow is a little off the beaten path.

I ran across an article this week that uses a different color space as a sharpening tool.  Color spaces are constructs that determine what colors will be displayed from an image on your screen, an inkjet print, a press print, etc.  The typical space used in Photoshop is AdobeRGB and it does a good job of presenting an accurate rendition of what your eye saw in a scene.  The different color space in the article is called LAB and the unique aspect of it comes from how it handles color information.  The LAB space separates the light-to-dark information from the color information (unlike AdobeRGB) so you can sharpen just the black-and-white parts of an image without interfering with the color part.

After playing around with the technique described in the article I’m pretty pleased with the results.  To the usual Photoshop workflow it doesn’t really add many extra steps.  You just have to remember to convert back to AdobeRGB in order to print or display on the web.

Here’s the article:

And here’s an image I used the technique on – check out the detail in the feathers on her back:


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