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How sharpening works in Lightroom 3

From: Lightroom 3 New Features

Video: How sharpening works in Lightroom 3

With this photograph we are going to explore one of the most important and significant improvements inside of Lightroom 3, and that is how we sharpen our photographs. In order to take a look at how we can sharpen this, let's navigate to the Develop module, and then open up the Detail panel. Now, for starters, one of the things you'll notice in the Detail panel is that there's a little warning icon. You'll get that warning icon if you're zoomed out. If you want to zoom in to see the appropriate detail or see a one-to-one perspective of your image, you can simply click on that icon, and it will zoom right in.

How sharpening works in Lightroom 3

With this photograph we are going to explore one of the most important and significant improvements inside of Lightroom 3, and that is how we sharpen our photographs. In order to take a look at how we can sharpen this, let's navigate to the Develop module, and then open up the Detail panel. Now, for starters, one of the things you'll notice in the Detail panel is that there's a little warning icon. You'll get that warning icon if you're zoomed out. If you want to zoom in to see the appropriate detail or see a one-to-one perspective of your image, you can simply click on that icon, and it will zoom right in.

All right. Well, now I'm viewing this image at 100%. I'm seeing the actual pixels here. Now, once I zoom in, I notice that characteristic of low-light type of photography like this image. We have a lot of noise in the background and the image isn't very sharp. So, what we can do is we can use these different Sharpening sliders that we find in the Detail panel in order to fix up the image. Now, first what I want to do though is deconstruct these sliders. So, in order to do that, I'm going to crank the amount all the way up to 150.

Here, I'm over-exaggerating the sharpening, but this will help us understand how these different controls work. Now, how does Radius work, and what is Radius? Well, if we decrease this, what we're going to see is we're going to see a little bit less of an edge or glow. Now, as we increase this amount, and again exaggerate it here, you can see that the glow or the edge around the area of sharpening has increased. So again, let's take a look. Here's with a low Radius. There's with a high Radius. Well, what about Detail? Well, a low Detail amount means a lot of the little details aren't sharp.

Increase the Detail and you all of a sudden bring out all of that texture. So, how then do we start to think about Detail? Well, you think about Detail in this way. Typically, for people, you're going to have a really low Detail amount. Say for architecture or landscape or photograph of a leaf or an old rusty wall, you might want to increase the Detail to bring out the texture. What about Masking? Well, Masking is fascinating. What we can do here is click to increase this, and it's going to limit the area that's sharp. In this case, you can see the Sharpening is primarily affecting the outer edge of the photograph.

A great way to be able to see this is to hold down Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows, and then to click on your Masking slider. As I click and drag this, you notice it shows me a mask which is either black or white. This mask works a lot like masks in Photoshop where black limits the sharpening, and white reveals where the sharpening is being applied to the photograph. Now, what's great about the shortcut is we can hold down Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows, and click and drag any of these sliders. This will give us this really interesting perspective where we can actually deconstruct how these edges are working to help us understand the sharpening a bit more and more importantly, it will help us dial in an appropriate amount of sharpening.

Now, one of the things that's new to Lightroom 3 is that we can also take advantage of these different views even when we've zoomed out. Here, I'll go ahead and click on Fit. Well, now I've zoomed way out on the photograph. But still, if I hold down Option or Alt, I can click on these sliders and I can see these different perspectives in regards to how the Radius or Detail or Masking or Amount will affect the overall sharpness of the photograph. Now, why is that important? Well, one of the things that we've discovered is that sometimes zooming into 100%, especially with really, really high-res files is overkill, meaning we're overdoing it.

We're zooming in too far. We're seeing too much detail. So, sometimes, in those situations, it pays to just zoom out just a bit and then dial in the exact amount of sharpening that you want to use. It's also worth noting that the sharpening that's taking place here is completely different. One of the things that happened with Sharpening and Noise Reduction previously is that it became a little bit too painterly. In other words, this allows you to have much better edges, much better control of the way the image appears. What's happening with the Sharpening here is completely different.

They've really torn down the sharpening engine and then rebuilt it from the ground up. All right. Well, now that we've deconstructed how to work with these Sharpening sliders, let's next take a look at how we can work with the Noise Reduction sliders. You'll notice we have some new options here. Then finally, let's explore how we can apply an appropriate amount of sharpening and noise reduction. So, let's go ahead and take a look at all those things in the next few movies. In those movies, we'll be working on this image, so let's reset the sharpening.

We can do that by holding down Option on a Mac, Alt on Windows, and then clicking on this button here which changes to Reset Sharpening. That brings the sharpening back to the default settings.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for Lightroom 3 New Features
Lightroom 3 New Features

53 video lessons · 9320 viewers

Chris Orwig
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 14m 41s
    1. Welcome
      1m 26s
    2. Comparing Lightroom 2 with Lightroom 3
      12m 27s
    3. Using the exercise files
      48s
  2. 20m 32s
    1. Introducing the Import dialog
      5m 54s
    2. Importing photos and movies from a CF card
      6m 31s
    3. Adding and importing photos from a folder
      3m 51s
    4. Synchronizing and finding missing photos
      4m 16s
  3. 34m 46s
    1. Filtering photos
      4m 0s
    2. Working with collections
      5m 1s
    3. Modifying image and thumbnail overlays
      3m 17s
    4. Crop presets and overlays
      5m 43s
    5. Using Auto Sync
      5m 33s
    6. Working with movies
      7m 13s
    7. Using Smart Collections for video files
      2m 10s
    8. Focal length filtering and Smart Collections
      1m 49s
  4. 19m 10s
    1. Setting up Flickr publishing services
      3m 47s
    2. Uploading photos to Flickr
      3m 4s
    3. Publishing to a Flickr Photoset
      3m 56s
    4. Publishing to a folder
      5m 11s
    5. Publishing to a Smart Folder or Smart Photoset
      3m 12s
  5. 1h 1m
    1. How sharpening works in Lightroom 3
      4m 48s
    2. Introducing noise reduction
      4m 45s
    3. Applying sharpening and noise reduction
      8m 23s
    4. Adding a grain effect
      4m 31s
    5. Using the Collections panel
      5m 42s
    6. The Adjustment Brush
      5m 48s
    7. The Graduated filter
      2m 10s
    8. Adding a vignette
      5m 45s
    9. Improvements to the Crop tool
      1m 59s
    10. Quickly changing crop orientation
      1m 40s
    11. Understanding the Point Tone Curve
      3m 10s
    12. Improving images with the Point Tone Curve
      4m 2s
    13. Using the Lens Correction controls
      5m 46s
    14. Enhancing images with Lens Correction
      3m 6s
  6. 5m 16s
    1. Adding audio to a slideshow
      5m 16s
  7. 11m 13s
    1. Introducing the custom print package
      3m 42s
    2. Working with the custom print package
      7m 31s
  8. 8m 46s
    1. Introducing tethered shooting
      2m 12s
    2. Working with tethered shooting
      6m 34s
  9. 7m 41s
    1. Optimizing and backing up a catalog
      2m 49s
    2. Upgrading Lightroom 2 catalogs
      2m 13s
    3. Working with legacy Lightroom files
      2m 39s
  10. 27m 21s
    1. New presets in the Develop, Web, and Print modules
      3m 26s
    2. Importing and working with CMYK images
      5m 55s
    3. Bonus workflow tips
      4m 51s
    4. Adding watermarks in the Print, Slideshow, and Web modules
      1m 20s
    5. Making creative watermarks
      3m 20s
    6. IPTC Extension metadata
      1m 16s
    7. Exporting by file size and with watermarks
      1m 51s
    8. Exporting collections
      3m 22s
    9. Ejecting an external hard drive
      2m 0s
  11. 1m 44s
    1. Additional resources
      1m 15s
    2. What's next
      29s

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