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As I explained in an earlier movie about sharpening in the Expert edit workspace, the very act of capturing a photo digitally softens the image. To compensate for that, you may want do some capture sharpening here in the Camera Raw workspace when you first open a Raw file. Now in most cases this won't be the last time that you sharpen, you'll probably do your final sharpening in the Expert edit workspace after you've resized the image as I showed you how to do in an earlier movie, using either the Unsharp Mask feature or the Adjust Sharpen feature. But here in the Camera Raw workspace you can do your initial sharpening, and that's done in the Detail Panel, which you access by clicking the Detail tab.
The Detail Panel offers four sliders: Amount, Radius, Detail, and Masking. We'll look at each one of those sliders, but first I need to zoom this image into a 100% because that's the only way you can accurately judge what's sharp and what's not sharp in an image. The shortcut for doing that is to double- click the Zoom Tool, which I'll do right now, and then I'll select the Hand Tool and use that to pan the image around to an area of the photo that I think should be sharp, which is down here. Now over in the Sharpening area of the Detail Panel, you can see the Amount and Radius sliders, which are much like the Amount and Radius sliders that we looked at in the context of the Expert Edit workspace.
These sliders work together to increase the contrast at edges to give the appearance of sharpness. And as I explained before, the Radius slider controls the width of the sharpening edges, sometimes called the sharpening halos, while the Amount slider controls the strength of the sharpening, the increase in brightness and darkness at sharpened edges. In most cases I'll leave the Radius set to its default of 1 or even drag it lower if there's too much sharpening, and I'll drag the Amount slider over to the right until I just start to see those halos around the edges, and then I'll drag back toward the left.
I want the image sharp but I don't want those halos to be obvious at a 100% view. There are two other sliders here, the Detail slider and the Masking slider. I usually leave the Detail slider at its default of 25, unless I have an image that has lots of fine detail that I want to be sure to bring out in the photo. So, here there is quite a bit of fine detail, so I might move the Detail slider slightly over to the right. If I hold down the Alt key, that's the Option key on the Mac, as I drag this slider I can see more and more of the detail edges come into view as I dragged to the right.
There is also a Masking slider here. When the Masking slider is at 0, everything that Elements deemed to be an edge in the photo is getting sharpen, but if I have a large area of something smooth in the photo I usually like to protect that area from sharpening, so that extraneous noise or grain in the smooth areas doesn't get sharpened. A good example of that is a blue sky, which I do have in this photo. I'll pan up to the sky so you can see what I mean. I really don't want this area to be sharpened, so I'm going to hold down the Alt key, that's the Option key on the Mac, as I drag the Masking slider over to the right. And that gives me this white and black view of the image.
The white represent edges that are currently being sharpened, so all the noise here in this sky is getting sharpened now. I'm going to drag the Masking slider over until the sky is pretty much solid black, and that means that masking is now protecting the sky from being sharpened. I'll release the Alt or Option key to go back and see the image, and then to take it back to fit in the window I'll double-click the Hand Tool. So the trick here is to do just enough sharpening to compensate for the inherent softness that you get with a digital photo, but not to over sharpen, keeping in mind that you'll be probably be sharpening at least one more time in the Expert edit workspace before you're done with this image.
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