Unsharp masking - Assistance please

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Does anyone out there in LF Land have a workable procedure for producing unsharp masks?

I prefer the MacDonalds approach . . . FAST, CHEAP AND EASY.

I've read a few articles on the subject and seen the resulting prints. But I still can't quite figure it out.

Your thoughts are appreciated.

-- Steve Feldman (steve@toprinting.com), November 21, 2001


Certainly one of the authorities on this subject is Howard Bond. Howard has had a number of articles published in Photo Techniques and gives workshops in unsharp masking. I've attended this workshop and highly recommend it. I've "messed around" with no registration punch and no densitometer and have even produced some acceptable results, but if you don't want to burn a lot of film and waste a lot of time, do it right. Howard's address and phone # are usually published in the magazine or you can check out his website. He's a wonderful teacher and a true gentleman. http://www.photogenesisgallery.com/bond.html

-- Robert A. Zeichner (info@razeichner.com), November 21, 2001.

Go to Radekaphotography.com. He uses unsharp masks and other masking techniques extensively. He also sells kits that provide everything you need to get started.

-- James Chinn (jchinn2@dellepro.com), November 22, 2001.

A second on the Howard Bond endorsement. He will sending out his new workshop schedule in January. You may want to sign up, I sure am.


-- Larry Sandt (lsandt@chartermi.net), November 22, 2001.

Go see Howard if you get the chance. He knows his stuff inside and out, and he's a good teacher. Nicest fellow you'll ever meet.

I got a chance to see lots of his prints while I was at his workshop, and got the feeling that he used unsharp masking too much, too often. There was one print in particular where a large jumble of sticks and branches was brought into sharp relief. I thought they would have looked better lost in the shadows. I asked Howard about this and he said, no, he liked it better that way. Can't argue with that! That's why they call it an art.

Also take a close look at what unsharp masking does to certain kinds of "high frequency" information, stuff with small, contrasty detail. It yeilds an unsettling look, almost harsh to my eye. You might see it differently.

I've done some unsharp masking, and it can make a huge difference with the right negative. I don't think it's called for all the time, though.

Look, learn, experiment, and make up your own mind.

-- Kevin Bourque (skygzr@aol.com), November 22, 2001.

Steve, there is a preview window available to see the USM effect as you apply it, make sure that the "Preview Option" is selected. You can drag this preview box around the image with the hand that shows up, like an Adobe PDF file. You can also magnify or reduce the view using the +/- buttons below the window.

Now that you can see what you're doing, try dragging the three sliders (amount, radius, and threshold) around to see their effect.

-- Michael Mahoney (mmahoney@nfld.com), November 23, 2001.

Obviously Steve and everyone but the last poster is aware that the unsharp masking being discussed here (and especially as it relates to Howard Bond) is not a computer filter choice, but a purely photographic one. Perhaps the last post was "tongue in cheek"?

-- Don Welch (donwelch@hotmail.com), November 25, 2001.

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