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Digital photos shot at high ISO speeds often suffer from noise. And all digital photos have a slight softness due to the nature of imaging sensors. Like all imaging software, Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop have features for fixing these flaws. But using these features isn't always straightforward—and incorrect use of them can make a photo look artificial and overprocessed.
In this course, join Photoshop senior product manager Bryan O'Neil Hughes for an in-depth exploration of the noise-reduction and sharpening features in Lightroom and Photoshop. The course begins with tips for getting the cleanest possible images when you shoot. Next, Bryan details the process of making overall noise and sharpness improvements in Lightroom. The course concludes with a look at various advanced Photoshop techniques for localized adjustments and more.
While Lightroom and Camera Raw are the best places to do noise reduction, they aren't always the best places to sharpen. The sharpening tools that are built in here are based on Unsharp Mask. It's not bad, but there's actually a better way of doing those global sharpening edits in Photoshop. So if I know I'm going to do that, I know I'm going to take this image over to Photoshop and it's worth the extra time I'm going to spend on it, I'm actually going to turn sharpening off in here. because if I have a better way to do it, I may as well do it there. So having decided that, I'm going to hit cmd + e and that's going to launch Photoshop and move that image right over there.
Now, the same rules apply to sharpening, I want to make sure that I'm looking at all the information. And that means double clicking the zoom tool, which automatically takes me to 100%. Now I want to dispel a myth here when it comes to sharpening, let's look at the list of sharpening features. Shake Reduction, which we'll talk about a little while later, there's Sharpen, which doesn't have any interface at all and just does a really quick, ugly, sharpen. Sharpen Edges, same thing to the edges, Sharpen More is just running Sharpen a couple times. There's Smart Sharpen, which I feel like a lot of people overlook.
Maybe because it's got the word smart in it and they assume that they're smarter. And then, there's Unsharp Mask. It sounds really weird, it's easy to remember, and more people use that than any other. Well, if there's one thing you learned from this section on sharpening, is that you want to use Smart Sharpen. I click on Smart Sharpen I'm going to get this really nice preview. It's kind of like what we saw over in Lightroom. I can see the whole image behind me but I can also move this to see whichever area I want zoomed in and I could even zoom in closer if I want. So the way that this works is I can remove Gaussian Blur which this is actually very similar to Unsharp Mask, or Lens Blur.
And that's what I want to do in almost all cases. And the way that it works is I want to amplify the Amount, walk that line between the amount and the details and artifacts. So don't over cook it too much. Radius is just like in Lightroom or Camera Raw. It's the area that it affects around it. And you'll see that we actually have some basic noise reduction built in as well. Because if you recall when we're sharpening, we're often adding noise and artifacts. So you can remove it all in one step. Now what's great about this, too, is that if you were using this aggressively and you didn't want too much sharpening.
Let me just amplify this so you can see. In say, the shadows, I could fade that area, or if there was too much sharpening in, say, the highlights, I could fade that area too. I have control over a lot more information, and while I don't always use the shadow and highlight information, it's nice to know it's there, it means that I can sharpen more. And I can also come in here and save a Preset. So you can get this the way you want it, and then save it. Now sharpening really doesn't want to be that high.
That was for the sake of demonstration. The one other thing I would mention about Smart Sharpen. If you're really using this the right way, you're using it as a Smart Filter. And what that means is, it's sort of like a Filter Layer. I want to come up here, and say Convert For Smart Filters. You're going to get this dialog. Explains what we're doing here. And then, if we come in here and apply our filter, we'll be able to edit everything after the fact. So think of this as sort of variable output sharpening. Maybe I want to sharpen for the screen right now. But unlike doing this to the image itself, I'm doing this to a layer.
I can undo it down the line. So I've applied my sharpening. I go on with my edits, and I decide somewhere along the line, that's too much sharpening. I just click on this here, and I load my dialog, and I can back the sharpening down. So Smart Filters are just like layers. You have a lot of flexibility and you have a lot of power and you can edit your file after the fact. So the takeaways here are, use Smart Sharpen, not Unsharp Mask, and use Smart Filters, so that you can change the parameters down the line.
There are currently no FAQs about Noise Reduction and Sharpening in Lightroom and Photoshop.
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