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Real focus happens inside the camera's lens element. The sharpening features in Photoshop CS3 exaggerate the contrast along edges in a photograph to transform a well-focused image into an outstanding image. In Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images, Deke McClelland teaches a host of sharpening and noise reduction techniques, including using filters such as Unsharp Mask, Smart Sharpen, High Pass, and Reduce Noise. The training teaches the essentials of sharpening, including what it does, why it's important, and how the filters function. Plus, the training covers Deke's recommended best practices, including the four distinct varieties of sharpening, which can be used independently or in combination with each other. Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images is about how to transform images from looking good to looking their absolute best. Exercise files accompany the course.
In this exercise we are going to take that filter mask that we lifted from the green channel that's currently limiting the effect of the High Pass filter and we are going to convert that mask into a proper edge mask. Now there are a lot of steps involved here. We saw how to create an edge mask a couple of chapters back. At this point, I figure we might as well go ahead and record the creation of this edge mask as an action. So lets go ahead and do that together. I have got an entire series by the way. If you are a subscriber to the lynda.com Online Training Library you can gain access to my Photoshop CS2, it actually goes by the name Photoshop CS2 Actions and Automation.
It's just that Actions and Automation hasn't changes that terribly much inside Photoshop CS3 and you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about recording actions. But right now lets just go ahead and bring up the Actions palette, which you can get to by the way by going to the Window menu and choosing Actions if you like. We are going to create a new folder, a New Action Set as it's known, by clicking on the little folder icon. So go ahead and click on the folder icon at the bottom of the applet and we will call this one Sharpening actions or something along those lines then click OK and next, I want you to start off a new action and to make a new action, record a new action inside Photoshop, you click on this page icon at the bottom of the Action palette and it allows you to name the action.
Lets call this one edge mask and I will go ahead and click on the Record button. Now you may recall, a couple of chapters ago when I told you back, creating image mask in the first place that this steps are always the same. We always run through the basic same steps especially where a portraits edge mask is concern, but the values may end up varying. I am just going to show you the values that I use in the when in doubt. So these are when in doubt values you can changes here values if you want to do for the specific resolution of images that you are using on the regular basis, but here we go.
The first thing is we are going to go ahead and click on the Smart Filter mask and that goes ahead and records that operation. I am not sure that's an operation that you want recorded, we'll go ahead and delete that just in moment, but I will go ahead and click on the filter mask in order to make it active, and I am going to even Alt+Click or Option+Click on the filter mask so that we can see the mask here inside the image window. That added another step to the action. Again, we will comeback and we will delete those in the moment. Now here are the real steps that we want to record. Go up to the Filter menu choose Noise and choose Median.
Now the value that you are going to enter will depend. It depends on the resolution of the image typically, but again a good sort of when in doubt values about 10 pixels. You could go higher with the high resolution image, you could go lower with the lower resolution image. I will go ahead and click OK to accept that modification. Now I am going to go up to the Filter menu. I am going to go choose Stylize and I am going to choose Find Edges and that's going to find the edges inside the image and tracing with black. Now I want to invert that of course because I want the edges to be white.
So I will press Ctrl+I or Command+I on the Mac in order to invert the image. You can see that step right there. Then I want to go ahead and bolster those light edges using Levels command. So I will press Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac to bring up the Levels dialog box. I will go ahead and drag this white slider triangle over to about 60. Now this might end up varying from one image to another. The other image I showed to you a couple of chapters ago, when I was introducing the edge mask. We ended up dragging this white point value down to 40.
So we were more aggressI've with our modification. This image would be harmed, if we went down the 40. We would end up getting too many edges. So I am going to leave its set to something that's a little more moderate about 60 and go ahead and click OK at this point and that records Levels operation of course. Now we want to thicken our edges up a little bit, so I am going to go the Filter menu. I am going to choose Other and I am going to choose Maximum, which expands the maximum brightness value, which of course is white and I want to radius of 4.
Again this is a value you might want to vary depending on the resolution of your image, 4 is a good when in doubt in my experience. I will go ahead and click OK to accept that modification. Now we want to round off those squares that have been formed by the Maximum filters. So I will go up to the Filter menu. I will choose Noise and I will choose Median and I will enter the exact same value I entered for Maximum. We definitely want to match the maximum value. So on the radius of 4, click OK and then I want to blur the edges inside the mask and I want all these harsh edges.
So I will go to the Filter menu and I will choose Blur and I will choose Gaussian Blur and I am going to double the value that I applied for both Median and Maximum. So instead of 4, I will do 8 and then I will click OK in order to accept that modification and now we are done. We have now created the edge mask. So you stop recoding the action by clicking on the square Stop button right there and that stops the recoding. Now I was telling you we have a couple of cluttered steps up front here. So lets go ahead and drag those down throw them in the trashcan here and that's all it takes.
Now we want to leave Median through Gaussian Blur and that's Edge Mask and I am actually get to rename this action a little bit I am going to call this LF edge mask meaning that's its a Low Frequency edge mask because this kind of edge mask does work very well for low frequency images. We would change the steps up a little bit, if we are working high frequency. We now have an action that will go ahead and automatically convert our luminance mask into an edge mask. To test it out, lets go back to the History palette here and notice this point at which we applied the Median filter, the first time around that's what we want to get rid of.
Lets go ahead and click on Edit Filter Blending Options which takes us back to the original luminance mask, it is right there so that you can see it. Now go ahead and switch back over to the Actions palette, make sure that your mask is active that it has a double outline around it and you may also want to go ahead and Alt+Click or Option+Click on that thumbnail so that you are viewing the mask on screen. Then click on the LF edge mask action and press the Play button there. Go ahead and click on the Play button and it will go ahead and convert that luminous mask into an edge mask look at the spit, very quickly indeed.
Lets go ahead and Alt+Click or Option+Click once again on the filter mask in order to view the affected image. So this is what the image looks like without the application of the High Pass filter, subject of course to its filter mask to the edge mask and this is what it looks like with the High Pass filter. Let me go ahead and zoom in so that we can see this a little more closely inside the video, this is without and this is with. So we have a double pass sharpening effect going on here. We sharpened inside of Camera RAW for the source and of course taking into account that this was a low frequency image and then we brought it into Photoshop and sharpened again for detail taking into account that this is a low frequency image, but I will tell you what, doesn't really add up to well at this point.
It looks pretty good its over-sharpened actually I have to say, but what we are doing is we are basically double sharpening the exact same stuff inside the image and what I am going to suggest you is, if you are going to do multi-pass sharpening like what we have seen here then you want to switch out your source sharpening. You don't want to take the low frequency content into a effect. You just want to go ahead and do a standard source sharpen and then take a low frequency details into account here inside Photoshop. I will show you exactly what I mean by that, because we have set this up as a very flexible image.
We can modify our sharpening settings to our harsh content. I will show you how in the next exercise.
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