#2: You Need to Sharpen After the Fact
There are lots of things you can do to help really sharpen photos, and obviously I thought it was so important that I included a whole chapter just about sharpness in this book. But, if there is one single trick that really takes a sharp shot to one that’s tack sharp, it’s sharpening after the fact on your computer. It doesn’t matter whether you use Photoshop, Photoshop Elements (the “light” version of Photoshop that really isn’t very light), or Adobe’s Lightroom, you need to sharpen every single photo to get the look the pros have. Think about this: with all the money we spend on tripods, and cable releases, and really sharp lenses, the reality is that as long as the shot is pretty sharp coming out of the camera, the money you spend on a program like Photoshop Elements will have the most impact on you getting a truly sharp photo (heck, I just did a quick Google search and found Elements for $80—that’s a small price to pay to have all your photos from here on out jump to the next level of sharpness). By the way, whether you buy Photoshop Elements for $80 or subscribe to the full version of Photoshop for $9.99 a month, the sharpen filter we use, called the Unsharp Mask filter, works exactly the same in both. To use it, go under the Filter menu, under Sharpen, and choose Unsharp Mask. Back on page 50, in Chapter 3, I gave you the settings I use day-in, day-out for people, cityscapes, urban photography, or travel, general everyday use, super-sharpening (for sports photos, landscapes, stuff with lots of details), and for images I’ve already made smaller and lower resolution, so I can post them on the web. Try them out and see if this sharpening doesn’t make as big of a, or bigger, difference than all the rest.