Sharp Module Use

Notes from users, documentation addendums.

Sharp Module Use

Postby Guy » Tue Feb 14, 2017 9:38 am

Here are some notes relating to using this module. It is not the only way to use the module and experimentation is encouraged.
Please let me know if anyone sees any errors or has any additional advice they think helpful.
I will update this post as needed.
To see a full alphabetical list of module topics click here

Sharp Module

  • To provide a range of tools which give the ability to sharpen the small to medium detail in the image.
For a general overview see Sharp: Wavelet-based Detail Aware Structural Detail Sharpening
The Sharp module uses wavelet sharpening techniques to enhance the detail in the image.
The module is scale aware - it splits the image into multiple layers of different scale elements - allowing the enhancing of detail of particular sizes only.
The optional 'Intelligent Enhance' mode targets the sharpening where it will benefit most.

Useful Sources
The Unofficial guide is also a good source of help. It relates to version 1.3.5 so there may have been some changes. The notes below relate to StarTools version 1.4.
The processing tutorial video M33 in LRGB shows the Sharp module with the mask use between about 6m21s and 8m04s.
The processing tutorial video M8 in Color with modest data describes the use of the Sharp module between 6m24s and 6m50s.
The Hangout discussion of StarTools with Ivo discusses the Sharp Module between about 0h54m and 1h02m.

When to use:
  • After the final global stretch and Decon module, if used.
  • Uses the same star mask as the Decon module uses.
  • Use only once.
Example Workflow:
AutoDev-{Band/Lens}-Bin-Crop-Wipe-AutoDev(or Develop)-{As needed: Decon/Sharp/Contrast/HDR/Flux/Life}-Color-{Filter}-Denoise-{If needed: Layer/Magic/Heal/Repair/Synth}
Key: {...} optional modules

This is a way of using the module which should give good results in most cases:
  1. Select the Structure Size you want to sharpen - and press Next
  2. Create an inverse star mask if one has not already been made by the Decon module. Mask-Auto-Stars-Invert.
  3. Adjust the 'Amount' control to bring out the structures as much as possible without increasing the noise at all scales.
  4. Within the selected Structure Size are 5 different layers of different scale sizes. If necessary, reduce the individual Scale setting to reduce the effect at that scale.
What result to look for:
  • Look for structures becoming clearer - less blurred.
  • Watch for stars bloating. If this happens, improve the star mask to counter this effect.
  • Watch for noise being enhanced. If this happens at all scales then back off the Amount setting. If it is enhanced at a particular scale then back off the relevant Scale setting instead.
After Use:
  • Use the HDR or Life modules if needed.
Special Techniques:
Sharp module can also be used as a scale decomposition tool - being able to remove or attenuate features of a particular size. This allows different versions of the image with different scales to be processed separately and blended together at a later stage.

Description of Controls:

Screen 1:

Structure Size:
Specifies the largest (Scale 5) size the wavelet sharpening should cover:
  • Large - elements of approximately 100-120 pixels downwards.
  • Medium - elements of approximately 40-50 pixels downwards.
  • Small - elements of approximately 10-15 pixels downwards.
  • Default is Large.
  • Set this to the size of the largest element you want to sharpen (e.g. spiral arms, dust lanes).
Screen 2:

For general instructions on using mask see Mask.
  • Select what parts of the image to sharpen - The inverse star mask used by Decon - which excludes the stars - is ideal here.
  • Create an inverse star mask if one has not already been made. Mask-Auto-Stars-Invert.
Sets the amount of sharpening at each of 5 different scales ranges.
  • Default is 100%. Range is 0% to 100%.
  • Reduce scale from 100% at a particular scale if noise is being enhanced at that scale. If changed - this is usually only necessary at scales 1-2.
  • Scales do not have absolute limits to the range - its is more like a particular scale brings detail of a certain size into focus - and that other detail is out of focus to varying degrees depending on its size.
  • The following are broad guidelines:
    • The largest scale (Scale 5) is set by the Structure Size parameter.
    • The smallest size (Scale 1) is always around one pixel.
    • The intervening scale sizes increase exponentially.
Scale Descriptions:
  • Scale 1 - Controls fine feature sharpening - This scale covers the smallest features such as single pixel detail.
  • Scale 2 - Controls the amount of medium to small feature sharpening.
  • Scale 3 - Controls the amount of medium feature sharpening.
  • Scale 4 - Controls the amount of large to medium feature sharpening.
  • Scale 5 - Controls the amount of large feature sharpening.
Adjusts the strength of sharpening across all scales
  • Default is 100%. Range is 0% to 1,000%.
  • Increase to make structures clearer. Decrease if noise is being enhanced too much at every scale.
Small Detail Bias:
Sets the priority if two scales want to change the same pixel differently.
  • Default is 75%. Range is 0% to 100%.
  • Increasing the setting gives greater priority to smaller scale if two scales want to change the same pixel differently.
  • The larger the value the more importantly the small scale detail will be treated.
Intelligent Enhance:
Sets whether the Sharp module uses Tracking information or not.
  • Yes - Specifies that Sharp module should use Tracking information to only sharpen the image where the image will benefit from it.
  • No - Does not use Tracking information when sharpening the image.
  • Defaults to 'Yes'.
  • Recommended especially if other modules (HDR, Life) are to be used afterwards.
Mask Fuzz:
If a mask is used, Mask Fuzz controls the blending of the transition between masked and non-masked parts of the image.
  • Active if a mask is used to selectively sharpen the image.
  • Using this control will ensure smooth transitions between sharpened and unsharpened parts of the image.
  • Default is 8.0 pixels. Range 1.0 to 40.0 pixels.
Background Notes:
The Sharp module uses Wavelet (aka Laplacian) Sharpening techniques to enhance the detail in the image. See How Unsharp Masking and Laplacian Sharpening Work

Scale and regions affected
  • The scale is based on the number of pixels - so if you use the same settings on an un-binned image and the same image 50% binned they will have different scales affected.
  • For each scale increment the size increases exponentially, based on Structure Size. For Small the next scale size is 2x the current one, For Medium it is 2.75x and for Large it is 3.5x.
  • If you want to see what size a particular scale affects - set that Scale to 100%, the Amount to 1000%, and all other scales to 0%. Do Before/After to see the scale affected.
Scale aware processing
Here's is generally how to do it:
  • Make two (or more - depending on how many scales you want) copies of the image.
  • Blur one with, for example, a Gaussian blur.
  • Subtract the blurred image from the non-blurred image. The blur will have killed most of the fine detail (it's a blur after all), so subtracting the blurred image from the non-blurred image logically leaves you with just the fine detail.
  • You can now manipulate that fine detail - for example normalise it, use brightness/contrast operations on it, etc.
  • Add it (the modified fine detail) back to the blurred (coarse detail) image and voilà; you have an image that has had just a particular scale manipulated.
You could even do all this in something like The GIMP or Photoshop with the caveat that some additional trickery is required to manipulate and visualise pixels with a negative value.
Now, nothing of course stops us from grabbing that fine detail we isolated, perform the same trick on that, so that you can start getting "bands" of different detail sizes.
The radius of the kernel you use for the Gaussian blur in this case defines the image scale peak response.
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