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| DearWebby is actually Helmut Morscher, the CEO of Webby, inc.
Originally the "Tech Support Pits" were reports of the funniest tech support incidents, but over the years the
column gradually shifted to answering tech support questions put forward by the readers of the Dear
Webby Humor Letter.
This collection of computer and web advice was started partly because readers demanded an archive, and partly
because some questions were asked again and again. Each page has a different day's Tech Support Pits column.
Tech Support Pits column from Dear Webby's Humor Letter of
09/14/04: Digital picture selective sharpness
Tech Support Pits:
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On some professional pictures you see that they have the
main point of interest sharp and the rest a bit fuzzy. How
is that done?
There are two ways, the classical and the digital.
Remember the disposable cameras with their match-head
size lenses and pictures that were sharp from a foot to
infinity ? The smaller the lens opening, the larger the
range of sharpness. With a camera that has bigger lenses
you can often set the aperture or F-Stops. The higher the
number, the smaller the opening and the larger the area of
sharpness. To restrict the area of sharpness, use a shorter
time and larger aperture, and set the distance as exactly
It's a bit of a rigamarole, but once you are used to it, it
works quite reliably and predictably.
However, it's nowhere near as predictable or easy as the
digital method. With the digital method you simply take the
picture so that all of it is nice and sharp, then use a
graphics program like Paint Shop Pro or Adobe, and blur
the areas that you don't want sharp.
Use the retouching tool, select "Soften", set both hardness
and opacity to about 15%, and use a tool size of about 1/4
of the size of the picture. Work from the edges in towards
the area that you want to keep sharp.
Work in straight and smooth strokes and NEVER make a
U-turn to return to the edge. Always release the tool at
the end of each stroke. That gives a much smoother and
more natural looking effect, AND if you overshoot and have
to hit CTRL Z to undo, it reverses only one stroke, not half
an hours worth of work.
The main advantage of the digital method is that you are
not limited to distance zones. You can, for example, leave
a route or trail to a destination sharp, and blur the rest of a
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