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Sharpening the details

From: Enhancing a Sunset Photograph with Lightroom and Photoshop

Video: Sharpening the details

Isn't this a beautiful moment?

Sharpening the details

Isn't this a beautiful moment? You know, one of the things that I love about photography is that it helps you to capture these moment in time and to really savor and notice all of the small details. And one of the things that I like about the details of this photograph are of the tree and the silhouette of the surfer, and a little bit more of a tree up here in the top of the picture. Well, in this movie, we're going to start to focus in on the details that we have here. And we're going to zoom into the photograph so that we can sharpen the image and reduce any noise that we discover when we zoom in to the picture and get really close.

Well, in order to change our zoom in, let's go ahead and open up the panels on the left. Next, at the top of the Navigator panel, let's take our view to this 1:1 or 100% view by clicking on this icon here. Now, this is a really important view, because so often what can happen is your image will look great from a distance when you're zoomed out, but when you get up close, you may notice a few little issues. Well, this image has some issues. It has some noise, some color noise, some luminance noise. It's also a little bit soft because of the low light scenario.

Well, let's fix those issues by working with the Detail panel. Here, we'll go ahead and open up the Detail panel by clicking on the word Detail in the Develop module. And we have access to some controls, which allow us to sharpen the image and also to reduce some noise. Now, to really understand how our noise reduction and sharpening controls work, what I'm going to do is something a little bit crazy. I'm going to zoom in passed 100%. Now you won't need to do this in your photographs. But I'm going to do it here so that you can actually see the different types of noise that we have in the photograph.

In the Navigator panel, just for demo purposes, I'm going to go to an 8:1 view. This will zoom in really close on the photograph. And what I'm hoping you can see now is that we have this different type of noise in the picture. One is, we have some noise which has to do with brightness value. Notice how there's brighter or darker little pixels. We also have this strange color pattern where we have some red pixels and green, and orange, and yellow, and brown. And so, what we want to do is minimize the noise that we have in the photograph.

To do so, we can minimize the brightness noise by increasing the Luminance slider. Here, I'm just going to exaggerate for a moment, but notice how it's getting rid of all of the brightness variation. Yet, we still have the color issue. Well, here we can increase the Color slider. And notice how it removed all the little color artifacts. So noise allows us, or the Noise sliders allow us to work with different types of noise. Let's bring those values down. And the other thing we have to keep in mind is that when we sharpen a photograph, sometimes what will happen is we'll sharpen it so that the details here or the noise become even more exaggerated.

So often as we sharpen, we'll also need to reduce noise, and we'll work with all of these sliders together. Alright, well, let's reset these settings here and let's apply a more appropriate amount now that we understand how they work. And let's do so by going to a 1:1 view. And here, I'll get rid of the panels on the left so we can see a little bit more of the photograph. Alright, well, you want to evaluate your own picture at this 100% view. And one of the things that I like to do is to start with adding a little bit of sharpening. So here, I'll increase the sharpening.

In doing that, I notice gosh, it's just ruining the texture or the details that we have in the background. So we need to decrease the Detail slider. With a high Detail slider, those details become more noticeable. With a low Detail slider, it stays away from sharpening the small details. Now, if we want the sharpening just to be applied to the edge of the picture rather than everywhere, we can work with the Masking slider. Now, there's a great little trick when working with the Masking slider. If you simply click and drag, then it's hard to tell what's happening.

Yet, if you hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt on Windows, and then click and drag on that, what you'll notice is it's showing us this really interesting perspective. What this perspective is, is it's showing us the actual mask. If you're familiar with masking in Photoshop, you know that white reveals and black conceals. In other words, the white area, well, that's the area where the sharpening will be applied. The black area, like the background here in this sky, won't have any sharpening applied to it.

And that's a good thing. In this way, we'll just have some edge sharpening applied to the photograph, which will help to improve the picture.

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