Understanding USM

Sharpening is a critical part of a digital workflow. Having a good understanding the USM filter is essential to enable you to produce the best results possible.

An Introduction

If your picture is muzzy or blurred USM isn’t really going to help. If an image is out of focus, applying some sharpening to it can help improve the overall appearance, but it won’t make it a sharp image. The sharpening tools in Photoshop will not replace good technique. Firstly lets deal with why it is called unsharp mask and what its origins are; I am not old enough to remember the process being used in the commercial darkrooms that I have been involved with, but I know someone who does.

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What are Histograms?

Sample Histogram

Histograms are not widely understood, but taking a few moments to learn about them can improve your photography significantly. Histograms can show you immediately whether your images are overexposed, underexposed, or just right, and help you to make any necessary changes when re-shooting a scene.
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Motor Sports Hints and Tips Part 5


Been a while since I updated these pages, I haven’t done any real motorsports since April 2004, and all of a sudden the season is with us.  Unlike last year the first race event of the season for me is the Bennets sponsored British Super Bike Championship. which was early in the season, i think the second race event in the series.  Rio Kio has had a fantastic start to the season, and the old man John Reynolds has stuggled, racing with a broken leg will do that for you.
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Motor Sports Tips and Hints Part 3

Originally Published in 2005

Getting to be a habit this is, Arrived at Thruxton on the Saturday, for qualification, I was only interested in the Super bikes, so arrived at a civilised hour, and did the qualifying session Came away with a set of pictures of each of the competitors for the British Super Bike Championship. Also the list of competitors which meant that on Saturday Evening I could prepare all of my captions in advance (it is a bit laborious but saves shed loads of time on the day) each caption contained the Riders Name, Team and Manufacturer, the date and venue as well as my contact details, and to make it easy to get the right caption each caption was saved as the number of the motorcycle to which it referred.

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Motor Sports Hints and Tips

Originally Published in 2004

I have been on a massive learning curve this weekend, I don’t do motor sports, that is I haven’t covered motorsports professionally since the 1980’s; until Sunday at the BTCC (British Touring Car Championship) at Thruxton. The learning curve started when I learnt that there was a 0700hrs on a Sunday Morning, I thought that one existed, however as I had never witnessed it, I was doubtful.

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British Superbikes at Thruxton

I shall be at the British Superbikes at Thruxton over the Bank Holiday Week End, I shall actually be there for the practice day and the main race day (Sunday and the Monday) from early doors, so I shall no doubt bump into a few fellow togs on the day. I hope that the weather is either very good or very wet, I have been very lucky for the few years and the weather has been very warm. However I am reviewing the Sigma 500mm F4.5 EX DG over that weekend, and it will be interesting to see how it holds up in the wet (as well as the Sigma 120-300 F2.8).

Talking of Sigma, I have say I was very impressed with the level of service that Sigma have offered Professional Photographers recently. I had a problem with the Sigma 120-300 F2.8 last week, it simply failed to autofocus, it needed the focus ring to be jogged to start the AF motor. So a trip on Monday to Welwyn Garden City to drop the lens off and collect a loaner. The loan lens was a little rough, but it did something that my one didnt, which is AF.

A phone call 7 days later and the lens is ready for collection, or do I want it couriered? The lens has had a brand new AF motor fitted, it also looks as though they gave it a clean!

So I have had the lens back for a few days now, and I have to say that there has been a substantial improvement in the AF speed. I am sure that it must have degraded over a period of time, as I wouldn’t have given it anything like the review I did on the http://www.press-photos.com website, if it had been as sluggish as was just before repair.

It will get a good work out at the week-end photographing some lunatics on powerful motorcycles, doing their best to break lap records at Thruxton. I shall be double handing it this week-end, with a colleague, but if anyone wishes to say hello, or something more abusive by all means feel free. I am easily identified, as I look a lot like my picture….