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Making selective edits with selections, masks, and layers

From: Noise Reduction and Sharpening in Lightroom and Photoshop

Video: Making selective edits with selections, masks, and layers

Layers, selections, and masks are really the backbone of Photoshop. Come in here, That looks alright.

Making selective edits with selections, masks, and layers

Layers, selections, and masks are really the backbone of Photoshop. Those are the things that you can do in Photoshop that you can't do anywhere else, and those precise edits are able to be taken so much further within Photoshop. Photoshop is really good at the one at a time image editing, where you really get into the details. So, let me give you just a little overview about what that looks like when it comes to noise reduction and sharpening and some tips and tricks. So, I mentioned before that I think selective noise editing is best done in light room or camera raw.

So, one of the things you could do if you wanted to is you could make a selection here and pass it into camera raw as a filter but let's talk about selective sharpening, or using layers for sharpening. The first thing I'd want to do with any layer based workflow is duplicate my layer. And if I want to do something like say, smart sharpen. Come in here, make sure at least part of my preview is zoomed in and let's do a pretty aggressive sharpen here. That looks alright. Click okay, then if I zoom in, one of the benefits of a layer based workflow is that I can toggle off and on what I've done.

Another benefit is that I can fade the opacity, so I can really, I can fade and finesse what I've done. If I want to, I can take this same area and I could mask it. So, I could choose a particular area of the mask and then make sure I've got my brush set to black and I could start erasing the areas around it. So, if I just want to make that particular flower in focus I can erase any of the other area I want and as soon as I release my mouse you'll see the details on the mask there.

Well, when it comes to selective sharpening there's actually a much better way to do that. So let me show you that. Again I highly recommend that you duplicate the layer. Because that's going to give you that extra degree of edibility. And rather than sharpening the whole thing and erasing the area that you don't want, let's look at just sharpening the areas that you do want. First thing's first, let's zoom in to 100%. And we're going to sharpen two parts of this image. We're going to sharpen an area that's in focus, like this flower or this one. And then we'll grab one that's almost in focus.

And I'll show you how using this particular tool, you can even recover focus. It's pretty neat. I'm going to come over here, and the sharpen tool lives underneath the blur tool, and it's okay if you don't recognize it. You've probably never used it, and the reason you wouldn't have used it is back in the old days it did something like this. Created a lot of artifacts. A couple versions ago, this was fixed and by default, protect detail is on. And so what we're going to do is use out ctrl+option or ctrl+alt keys.

Move our brush left to right to change the size, up and down to change the hardness. Go from medium hardness and a size, about the size of what we're going to edit, and we're just going to paint this effect on. And what's really great about this is I used it really aggressively. You wouldn't normally want to use 50%, but I can use it so aggressively that I can actually bring areas that were out of focus back in. If you're shooting with a fast lens, and you've just barely missed the focus, you'd be surprised.

You can actually restore it using this tool, and you won't introduce a lot of artifacts. I'll tell you, this is actually the most sophisticated sharpening algorithm in all of Photoshop, and I'm confident in saying it's the most sophisticated way to sharpen period. It's brushed base, it's pressure sensitive, if you use it in a layer based environment you can turn it off and on, you can toggle the opacity, you can fade it, it's a really great way to do it. The best way to use this would be with a pressure sensitive device like a wacom tablet to set the strength really low.

And to just build it up really, really slowly. And just going back to some of the things we learned before, when you're adjusting tones, remember that your tones can be adjusted selectively as well. So, in the same way that we sharpened a given area, we could also dodge, burn, or adjust any different variable with a selection or a mask.

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