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Chapter 6. Fixing and Retouching Photos > Sharpening Image Detail

Sharpening Image Detail

Although most scanners do a pretty good job of capturing images, a little sharpness or crispness of detail seems to almost always get lost in the conversion process. If an original photo is even just slightly fuzzy, the act of converting it to pure, digital information may accentuate the detail enough to make the fuzziness even more noticeable when viewed on your computer screen. Even photos you’ve captured directly from a digital camera may not quite “pop” the way you’d like them to. In addition, any time you resize an image by resampling, pixels may be lost in the process, and so you also lose some degree of image detail.

Photoshop Elements offers several automatic sharpening options (Sharpen, Sharpen Edges, and Sharpen More), but all offer so little control that you may prefer not to use them. Instead, you may prefer the Unsharp Mask command, which offers plenty of control through an interactive, intuitive dialog box. The Unsharp Mask command works by finding pixels with different tonal values and then slightly increasing the contrast between those adjoining pixels, and so creating a sharper edge. The resulting correction can help to enhance detail and bring blurred or fuzzy areas throughout an image into clearer focus.


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