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Capture sharpening

From: Enhancing a Landscape Photo with Lightroom

Video: Capture sharpening

This photo, like almost every digital photo, can probably benefit from sharpening. You can sharpen a photo more than once in your digital workflow. In this movie we will talk about initial sharpening or what's called capture sharpening. The purpose of this initial sharpening is to offset the softening that's just inherent part of the digital capture and raw conversion process. Then later when we export the photo from Lightroom we will use controls in the Export dialog box to add some additional final sharpening designed for a particular output destination and in between we'll do some creative sharpening to particular areas with the Adjustment brush.

Capture sharpening

This photo, like almost every digital photo, can probably benefit from sharpening. You can sharpen a photo more than once in your digital workflow. In this movie we will talk about initial sharpening or what's called capture sharpening. The purpose of this initial sharpening is to offset the softening that's just inherent part of the digital capture and raw conversion process. Then later when we export the photo from Lightroom we will use controls in the Export dialog box to add some additional final sharpening designed for a particular output destination and in between we'll do some creative sharpening to particular areas with the Adjustment brush.

So let's do our initial or capture sharpening here. The first thing to know about sharpening is that you can't evaluate it unless you're zoomed in to one-to-one or 100% view. To do that I'm going to just click in this image and if you look closely you can see that some of the detail here is a little bit soft looking. Let's see if we can improve that using the controls in the Detail panel here in Lightroom's Develop Module. Over in a column on the right I'm going to scroll down and I'll click on the Detail panel.

The top section of the Detail panel has controls for Sharpening. As you can see there are four different controls. The Amount slider controls the strength of the sharpening effect. Now the way that Sharpening works is that Lightroom looks for edges or areas where this contrast between light and dark. Then it increases that contrast, making the light side of an edge lighter and the dark side of the edge darker. So if I increase the Amount slider that increases the strength of that kind of sharpening effect.

I have dragged the Amount slider to the right until it looks just about right to my eye. Next, I'll come down to the Radius slider. The Radius determines the distance from an edge that's included in the sharpening treatment. Now this landscape has a lot of detail so we don't want these edges to be too wide. For that reason I want to keep the Radius relatively low. I am going to leave it at its default of 1. The next slider is the Detail slider I am going to leave this slider at its default of 25. I try to avoid increasing the Detail slider too much so as to avoid ending up sharpening noise in the image.

Finally, there is a Masking slider. I would like to use the Masking slider in this photo to protect the smooth areas of the photo from sharpening. To show you what I mean I'm going to pan up to the sky in the image. If you look very closely, you can see that there's some grain in the sky. I don't want to emphasize that grain by sharpening it. So I want to protect this area from our Sharpening Settings. To do that I'll drag the Masking slider over to the right. Now one thing that I like to do when I drag the Masking slider is to hold down the Opt key on the Mac or the Alt on the PC and then drag the slider.

As I do I can see a representation of the edge mask that I'm creating. Where that mask is black that area will be protected from sharpening. The white in this mask represents the edges that will be sharpened. Now let's pan down to a darker part of the photo, because I want you to see that there still is a little bit of grain or noise here in the dark areas of the photo. I can address those using the Noise Reduction sliders. There are two kinds of digital noise, Color Noise and Luminance Noise.

The default settings for the Color Noise Reduction sliders usually do a pretty good job of eliminating Color Noise and I really don't see any color noise here, but I do see this grayscale or grainy type of noise known as Luminance Noise. So I am going to take the Luminance slider and I am just going to drag it slightly over to the right. Now in this image there isn't a lot of Luminance Noise, because this particular photo was shot with a low ISO and it doesn't have a lot of dark areas. I'm satisfied with just those few changes to the Sharpening and Noise Reduction settings in the Detail panel.

So that you can see a before and after a view I'm going to click this toggle at the top of the Detail panel. Here's how the photo looked before the adjustments that we just made to Sharpening and Noise Reduction and you can see that it's really soft up here and here is how the photo looks with those adjustments. I'll pan over to another area of the photo that has detail and again I'll click the toggle for a before view and an after view. As you can see Sharpening has an important impact on this photo as it does on most digital photos.

Now keep in mind that this isn't our final sharpening of this image. This is just the capture sharpening that compensates for the softness that's inevitable when you digitize a photo. We'll do some creative sharpening as well as some final output sharpening later in this course.

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Enhancing a Landscape Photo with Lightroom

13 video lessons · 6298 viewers

Jan Kabili
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