May 282009

If you’ve been following the Tips here, you probably use the Sharpen feature of Picasa.  With a single click it makes your digital photos look a lot crisper.  It can’t take an out of focus picture and make it in focus, but it takes that soft look and makes it … sharper.  I use it on all my photos.

Geeks on  Tour Members can watch the Show-Me-How video on sharpen at:(Member Tutorial Video:Picasa’s 12 Effects)
I also wrote an article about why I like sharpen.

Sometime in this past month (May 2009) an update to Picasa changed the way Sharpen works.  They broke it!  Fortunately, they gave us a special ‘secret’ command to make it work the way it used to.

The secret?  Hold down the shift key as you click on sharpen.  You’ll see your photo get instantly sharper – just like it always has.  You will then need to click Apply to complete the process.

So, why did they ‘break’ it?  Here’s the official word from Google employees.  They say that they fixed a problem that it had before and, in the process made it much slower.  Well, most of us never noticed the problem it had before, but we sure notice the ‘much slower’ part now!

How it works now:
The Sharpen command now has a slider to make it more or less sharp.  The problem is that the slider is *very* non-responsive.  And, even if you slide it all the way to sharpest, we don’t see the results that we used to see.  You only see accurate results if you’re looking at your photo in 100% magnification.  Get to 100% by clicking the 1:1 button in the lower right corner.  But now, of course, you can’t see your whole picture.

Using the Batch Edit tool to sharpen seems to apply the new effect which is much less noticeable than it use to be.  I find myself using the secret Shift method to sharpen all my photos now.

Google says they’re working on it.

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Jul 232007

originalsharpenedCan you see the difference between the photo on the left, and the one on the right? The one on the left is the original. The one on the right has been ‘sharpened’ by Picasa. In Picasa, you double-click on the photo you want, then, in the left column of Editing commands, click on ‘effects’. Sharpen is the first one. Each time you click it, it gets ‘sharper.’ Once is usually enough – I clicked this one twice to be sure you can see the difference.

The first picture is not out of focus. I took it with my Canon Digital SLR camera. It’s a very good camera, with a very good lens. It’s a fact of digital photography that, where two different colors come together, it blends them slightly, giving it a soft look. The ‘sharpen’ command finds those ‘edges’ and increases the contrast. I find that every photo can benefit from one click of the sharpen effect, so here’s the real kicker: in Picasa, if you click on the Picture menu and then ‘Batch Edit’, you can sharpen all selected photos at once! If you decide you don’t like this effect on any given picture, you can always ‘undo’ it!

For a video that shows how to do this, go to the Picasa tutorial page and click on ‘Improving Photos.’