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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.
Alright, finally for those of you who maybe thinking, hey Deke, is there anyway to simulate the Camera RAW sharpening controls using the sharpening functions that we have seen thus far inside of Photoshop? The answer is not really, but you can come close, and by examining how we come close, we can get a sense of how the Camera RAW sharpening controls work. So here is what I would like you to do. If you care for this kind of theory, what I would like you to do is to train the Bridge once again on the 05_for_source folder, inside the exercise files folder.
Therein you well see an image called RAW shapes.dng. Go ahead and select the file and press Ctrl+R or Command+R in the Mac in order to open it inside of Camera RAW. Now I was able- even though this is not a digital photograph, it was not originally rendered inside of a digital camera, I did not hold the digital camera up to the screen and shoot a picture of this diagram or anything along those lines, I was still able to convert this diagram into a DNG file. You can't do that from Photoshop. You can't save an image out as a DNG file, but you can do it from Camera RAW.
So I open the image as a TIFF image here inside Camera RAW by pressing Ctrl+R, Command+R in the Mac. Then I click on the Save Image button, and I chose Digital Negative as my output format. Just so you know how you can do that kind of thing, if you are interested. Anyway that has nothing to do with my demonstration here. I am going to go ahead and zoom in on this image so we can take it in at the 100% zoom ratio. Lets also switch over to the Detail options here. Notice that in Advanced, I have applied an Amount value of a 100%, a Radius of 1.0, and a Detail value of a 100%.
So I have gone very high with the Amount and Detail values, fairly low to medium with the Radius value, and very low with Masking; I have it turned off essentially, I have it set to zero. Then I am not applying any noise reduction, because this isn't a digital photograph, it doesn't really have any noise inside of it. It just has texture, which I added on purpose. Alright, so now I am going to go ahead and click on the Open Image button now. I should say, by the way, that you can either click on Open Image to open the image inside Photoshop, or if you still want access to your Camera RAW settings so that you can modify them later on down the line, then you press and hold the Shift key, and notice that the Open Image button changes to Open Object, that will open the image as a Smart Object.
I will go ahead and click. Now that I have got the Shift key done, I will click on that Open Object button, and now if I bring up my Layers palette, you can see that this is indeed a Smart Object. If I double click on that thumbnail, I am not going to open the image that's embedded inside of the larger composition, instead I am going to open the Camera RAW dialog box and I am going to gain access to those settings once again. Alright, anyway, whether its a Smart Object or not, its showing us what we need to see, its showing us the sharpened version of the image according to Camera RAW.
I am going to go ahead and zoom the image into a 100%, and I am going to match this window size here, there is easier ways to do this, and I am going to do Shift+Tab away my Layers palette, and move this guy over, I want to get things exactly right, don't you know for whatever reason -- oh look, its a pixel too high. So I am going to go ahead and move this down a little bit, like so. Alright, so there is the sharpened version of the image according to Camera RAW. Now lets move over to the original version of the image, this one is called Test shapes.jpeg, and it is once again included inside of that 05_for_source folder.
Here is what I am going to do- and again, this just an approximation, this is not an exact match, like we have seen in the past, this is an approximate match. First thing I am going to do is I am going to press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J in the Mac in order to jump the image to a new layer. Lets just go ahead and call it sharpening effect or something like that, because that's all it is. I will click OK in order to accept that new layer. Now I am going to go up to the Filter menu, I am going to choose Other, and I am going to choose High Pass. I am going to apply a Radius value of 3 pixels, so about 3 times the Radius value that we saw inside of the Camera RAW dialog box.
So basically everything; all those sharpening controls inside of Camera RAW are magnified through the roof, as you will see. Alright, so I am going to go ahead and click OK to accept that modification. Then I want to get rid of the color variation inside of the image. Camera RAW is very careful about sharpening just the luminance data and not the color data, so we need to get rid of any color shifting inside of this layer by going up to the Image menu, choosing Adjustments, and choosing this command right there, Desaturate.
Now we have a gray scale only version of this High Pass image. I am going to change the blend mode now from Normal to Overlay, standard stuff, when we are working with High Pass of course. We have a standard High Pass sharpened version of the image, doesn't look anything like the Camera RAW version of the sharpened image over here on the right. I am going to go ahead and get rid of my palettes for a moment, so we are done with the Layers palette, we are just working on the High Pass layer after this point, so that we can keep track of both images at once on screen here.
Now I am going to go up to the Filter menu, I am going to choose Noise and I am going to choose Reduce Noise. The idea being that Camera RAW, no matter what, even if you don't have the noise reduction functions turned on at all, as we didn't you may recall, both luminance and color were set to zero, so we weren't applying any noise reduction. The sharpening controls actually go through and smooth out contours no matter what. So I am going to go ahead and choose Reduce Noise, and I am going to apply the settings you see right here, Strength of 3, so a pretty low Strength value.
Turn Preserve Details and Reduce Color Noise off, because they are not going to help us in this case, and then raise that sharpen details value to 100%. We are going to max out the sharpen details value. don't turn on this check box, leave it off, and then click OK. We are starting to get more of a match as you can see here between these two images, still not enough, thanks to the fact that I raised that Detail value, you may recall, inside the Camera RAW dialog box to a 100%. We need to go ahead and apply the More Accurate check box inside the Smart Sharpen dialog box, we need to apply it.
So we are going to do that by going up to the Filter menu again, choosing Sharpen and choosing Smart Sharpen, and these are the settings I am going to apply: an Amount value of a 100%, a Radius value of 2.0, Remove set to Lens Blur, and More Accurate turned on, that gives us the closest equivalent. Again, it's not an exact match, but it's close. Then I will click OK in order to accept that modification. Notice we are closing in on the effect. The biggest difference I am seeing at this point, there is some difference in the texture, an overall difference, to the quality of the texture, and I am not going to do anything to match that, that's beyond my control at this point.
But I am noticing something I can control is the fact that I have very bright highlights and very dark shadows, so I am clipping shadows and clipping highlights inside the image on the left, whereas Camera RAW is working very hard to make sure it does not clip either. So what we are going to do back here inside the Test shapes.jpg image, bring back up my Layers palette, I am going to double click on that Layer in order to bring up the Layer Style dialog box. I am going to Alt-drag the halves of these triangles apart, both in the This Layer slider and the Underlying Layer slider, like so.
Try to say that three times fast. I am being fairly arbitrary in terms of my modifications here. Here are the values I am applying, it doesn't really matter, I am just making sure that I have a big amount of space between both the black halves and the white halves. Then I will click OK in order to accept that modification, but Shift+Tab that palette away once again, and here is my closest match between the two. That's how much work it takes in order to match what happened so quickly and so effortlessly inside the Camera RAW dialogue box, but it means there are some tradeoffs too.
That sharpening smoothing action that occurs inside of Camera RAW, I am not the biggest fan of that actually, and there is really no way to turn it off, its at work all the time, so you really have the kind of noise reduction going on, no matter what you do, when you are sharpening an image. On the plus side, it's always very careful to apply its sharpening just at the luminance data, and its careful to clip neither the shadow or highlight information inside of the image. Alright, so there you have it. In the next chapter we are going to take a look at how to sharpen for detail inside of an image.
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