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Avoiding clipping with luminance blending


Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images

with Deke McClelland

Video: Avoiding clipping with luminance blending

Alright this time around, as promised, I am going to show you how to resolve clipped highlights and shadows that are a function of a sharpening effect that are created by a sharpening effect. We will get rid of those clipped highlights and shadows using luminance blending, which is only applicable to static layers; you can't apply it to a Smart Filter. Of course I'll show you what I mean, but first I am working inside of this image here called High Pass layers.PSD, its available inside of the 04_support_staff folder, for those of you who are just joining me. It includes the High Pass layer and the clipped Levels adjustment layer.
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  1. 50m 30s
    1. Why every image needs sharpening
      2m 37s
    2. Understanding the effects of sharpening
      5m 26s
    3. Understanding the mechanics of sharpening
      4m 19s
    4. Understanding sharpening and gradual transitions
      3m 21s
    5. Understanding sharpening and noise reduction
      4m 0s
    6. Understanding amount and radius
      7m 50s
    7. Measuring your screen resolution
      6m 19s
    8. Using reliable zoom ratios
      5m 30s
    9. Calculating the actual print size
      4m 55s
    10. Gauging the ideal sharpening settings
      6m 13s
  2. 59m 28s
    1. Everyone knows you sharpen last (and everyone is wrong)
      1m 7s
    2. Understanding the conventional sharpening workflow
      5m 3s
    3. Flattening and saving to TIFF
      6m 40s
    4. Downsampling (and why you shouldn't upsample)
      6m 8s
    5. Understanding last-step sharpening
      6m 43s
    6. Recognizing problems with the conventional workflow
      9m 38s
    7. Erasing sharpening with the history brush
      4m 30s
    8. Using alternative sharpening workflows
      2m 37s
    9. Sharpening a scanned photograph shot on film
      2m 45s
    10. Sharpening a digital photograph
      3m 6s
    11. Sharpening specific details
      3m 43s
    12. Finding broad workflow conclusions
      2m 48s
    13. Learning that technique trumps timing
      4m 40s
  3. 1h 30m
    1. Comparing and contrasting neighboring pixels
      1m 6s
    2. Using the Gaussian Blur filter
      4m 25s
    3. Using Gaussian luminance distribution
      7m 47s
    4. Using the Unsharp Mask filter
      4m 54s
    5. Understanding the history of Unsharp Mask
      3m 51s
    6. Building your own USM with Gaussian Blur
      7m 35s
    7. Using the Smart Sharpen filter
      7m 35s
    8. Compensating for camera shake
      8m 50s
    9. Building your own Smart Sharpen with Lens Blur
      6m 59s
    10. Using directional sharpening with Emboss
      9m 13s
    11. Using Smart Sharpen extras
      8m 56s
    12. Using Convolution Kernels for more accuracy
      7m 8s
    13. Using the High Pass filter
      7m 32s
    14. Using Luminance Sharpening
      5m 5s
  4. 2h 14m
    1. Smoothing filters, smart objects, and masks
      1m 24s
    2. Using the Median filter and Dust and Scratches
      7m 6s
    3. Using Smart Blur and Surface Blur
      6m 14s
    4. Using the Despeckle filter
      8m 18s
    5. Softening flesh tones selectively
      10m 16s
    6. Using the Reduce Noise filter
      7m 27s
    7. Combining smoothing and sharpening
      8m 23s
    8. Making an image into a smart object
      9m 23s
    9. Applying editable smart filters
      6m 10s
    10. Combining two smart filters
      8m 6s
    11. Assigning a filter mask
      5m 59s
    12. Nesting one smart object inside another
      10m 31s
    13. Employing a static High Pass layer
      9m 0s
    14. Matching static pixel-level edits
      4m 37s
    15. Avoiding clipping with luminance blending
      9m 7s
    16. Sharpening and smoothing
      6m 37s
    17. Making an edge mask
      8m 15s
    18. Making a non-edge mask
      7m 17s
  5. 1h 33m
    1. Sharpening with Adobe Camera Raw
      1m 28s
    2. Introducing Camera Raw (4.1 or later)
      8m 12s
    3. Understanding why to sharpen for source
      5m 14s
    4. Using Camera Raw’s sharpening control
      5m 51s
    5. Previewing limitations and tricks
      6m 45s
    6. Why downsampling doesn’t work
      3m 12s
    7. Reducing chromatic aberration
      7m 29s
    8. Using the Defringe option
      3m 31s
    9. Understanding high frequency, low radius
      5m 21s
    10. Raising the Detail value
      3m 6s
    11. Using on-the-fly edge masking
      5m 40s
    12. Sharpening a low-frequency portrait
      6m 35s
    13. Eliminating color noise
      4m 47s
    14. Reducing luminance noise
      4m 41s
    15. Correcting “false sharpening”
      7m 14s
    16. Reducing shadow noise
      5m 22s
    17. Approximating ACR sharpening in Photoshop
      8m 35s
  6. 59m 12s
    1. Gauging and exploiting luminance frequency
      1m 26s
    2. Using low-frequency source sharpening
      5m 53s
    3. Using High Pass for portraits
      4m 19s
    4. Actioning a low-frequency edge mask
      7m 42s
    5. Modifying the source sharpening
      5m 21s
    6. Using high-frequency source sharpening
      5m 26s
    7. Using Smart Sharpen for cityscapes
      3m 1s
    8. Actioning a high-frequency edge mask
      5m 5s
    9. Downplaying color artifacts and clipping
      4m 5s
    10. Sharpening a medium-frequency image
      5m 25s
    11. Sharpening a layered composition
      7m 17s
    12. Sharpening for multiple frequencies
      4m 12s
  7. 1h 8m
    1. Who needs dull when you have sharp?
    2. Focusing in on a person’s eyes
      4m 22s
    3. Blurring the area outside the eyes
      4m 22s
    4. Sharpening eyes and other details
      5m 38s
    5. Darkening the lashes and eyebrows
      7m 13s
    6. Sharpening dark-haired people
      5m 2s
    7. Edge mask and emphasize
      3m 38s
    8. Nesting a Smart Sharpen effect
      4m 48s
    9. Density mask sharpening
      5m 35s
    10. Adding depth of field
      4m 39s
    11. Sharpening a background
      4m 23s
    12. Masking background from foreground
      8m 51s
    13. Eliminating halos around a person
      5m 38s
    14. Deepening and warming a background
      3m 27s
  8. 1h 18m
    1. Reverting back to convention
      1m 36s
    2. Understanding the use-neutral composition
      4m 15s
    3. Restoring much-needed antialiasing
      4m 2s
    4. Reducing noise in a high-frequency image
      7m 24s
    5. Making a third-level smart object
      3m 55s
    6. Preparing an image for print
      5m 19s
    7. Using ideal settings for commercial reproduction
      5m 37s
    8. Calculating very large-format settings
      5m 11s
    9. Using ideal settings for inkjet output
      4m 26s
    10. Sharpening for commercial reproduction
      5m 44s
    11. Sharpening for inkjet output
      4m 57s
    12. Revealing high-frequency multipass sharpening
      5m 21s
    13. Using Gaussian Blur to sharpen hair
      5m 42s
    14. Flatten, Save As, Resample, and Sharpen
      5m 10s
    15. Revealing low-frequency multipass sharpening
      3m 31s
    16. Sharpening an image for web or screen
      6m 22s
  9. 1m 51s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 51s

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Watch the Online Video Course Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images
10h 33m Intermediate Feb 15, 2008

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

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.

Topics include:
  • Understanding the effects of sharpening
  • In-depth examinations of Unsharp Mask, Smart Sharpen, Emboss, and High Pass
  • Smoothing an image with the Surface Blur, Despeckle, and Reduce Noise features
  • Working with smart objects and smart filters
  • Creating edge masks and non-edge masks
  • Sharpening for digital-image capture using Camera Raw
  • Gauging and exploiting luminance frequency
  • Exploring creative applications of sharpening
  • Sharpening a multilayer composition
  • Sharpening eyes, hair, and out-of-focus backgrounds
  • Reducing noise in a high-frequency image
  • Determining ideal settings for commercial and inkjet output
  • Sharpening very large-format images
  • Sharpening an image for the web or screen output
Deke McClelland

Avoiding clipping with luminance blending

Alright this time around, as promised, I am going to show you how to resolve clipped highlights and shadows that are a function of a sharpening effect that are created by a sharpening effect. We will get rid of those clipped highlights and shadows using luminance blending, which is only applicable to static layers; you can't apply it to a Smart Filter. Of course I'll show you what I mean, but first I am working inside of this image here called High Pass layers.PSD, its available inside of the 04_support_staff folder, for those of you who are just joining me. It includes the High Pass layer and the clipped Levels adjustment layer.

I want you to see something about High Pass and this amount elevation right there. If I zoom in on the fur and I want to show you before and after view, so if I click on the eyeball to turn off this layer, this is what it looked like before. This is the unsharpened version of the image, that is to say, and this is the sharpened version. Now the highlights and shadows are a lot more noticeable, so we have created these hot highlights inside of the fur, thanks to High Pass, and these dark shadows. But we are not clipping at this point.

High Pass is very good about avoiding clipping; the clipping of highlights and shadows, it does a great job, which is why its such a splendid sharpening effect in my opinion. But you do get clipping when you work with Unsharp Mask and Smart Sharpen, more often than not anyway. Not all of the time but very often you do. I'll show you what I mean. So I am going to go ahead and Alt+click or Option+click on the eyeball in front of the background layer in order to hide the other layers for now. Lets go ahead and apply Smart Sharpen by the Smart Filter route very quickly here.

I'll go to the Layers palette menu; I'll choose Convert to Smart Object. I am not going to worry that's called Layer 2. I don't care about that for now because we are going to get rid of it in just a moment. I am going to go up to the Filter menu and I am going to choose Sharpen and I am going to choose Smart Sharpen. Now we'll bring up the last settings I applied. Now these are the settings I applied to the Bison, you may recall, an Amount of 350%, the Radius of 4.0 pixels, Lens Blur, that's just fine. You can see, you may be able to see that we are definitely clipping highlights and shadows this time around. We have some very light information here. This is white, white information that's clipped inside of the hairs and some very black clipped shadows around the hairs, around the outside of the hairs and underneath her chin, just all kinds of clipped shadows as well.

That's no good. Now you could resolve it using Advanced. If you clicked on the Advanced radio button right there and you go to Shadow, you could back off your shadows if you want to. You could fade those shadows like so and that helps a little bit. We get a lot of fading if we go with- if we decide to fade the highlights, we are going to have a nice faded effect to those highlights there. It works out pretty nicely. The only problem is that same old problem I was telling you about before. If I now switch back to Basic that doesn't undo those modifications.

So those changes that I made will persist throughout my use of the Smart Sharpen filter in the future. You may want that to happen. If we find that desirable, that's great and you can go ahead and work it out with those advanced settings if you like. I don't like the fact that they persist; I think they should retract as soon as we go back to Basic. So anyway, I am going to go back to Advanced here and I am going to unfade these amounts like so and then I am going to switch back to Basic and I am going to leave those controls alone, so that we can focus on luminance blending instead. Click OK in order to apply that Smart Filter.

Now lets change the blending options. Luminance blending is part of the blending options, right? We also need to get rid, of course, the color artifacts that are showing up here. So I'll double click on these little slider guys right there, next to the word Smart Sharpen and I will change the Mode to Luminosity and that will get rid of the color weirdnesses. But otherwise we just have an Opacity value. We don't have independent luminance blending control and if you are not sure what I am talking about, you will be in just a moment. But it ain't here inside the Smart Filter. I am going to cancel out. This is not doing me any good and I am going to press Ctrl+Alt+C, Ctrl+Alt+C a couple of times in a row.

That would be Command+Option+C twice in a row on the Mac. Here is the better way to work if your goal is to get rid of the clipped highlights and shadows. You want to press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J in order to jump that Background layer, which is no longer Smart Object as you can see. And I'll go ahead and call it Smart Sharpen because that's what its going to be and I'll click OK. Now with this independent layer available to us and you can see that my file size is going quite a bit down here in the lower left hand corner of the window that is a function of working with pixel based layers.

I am now going to go up to the Filter menu and choose that first command Smart Sharpen in order to repeat those settings and we are going to get exactly the same effect of course. Now I definitely want to change the blend mode right here from Normal to Luminosity to get rid of those aberrant colors and then I am going to double click on the thumbnail for the layer to bring up the Layer Style dialog box and I am going to direct your attention to these slider bars down here. Now you'll sometimes hear people refer to these as the Blend If Sliders, but they are not. Blend If refers to this popup menu right here and that's it.

I call these the Luminance Blending sliders because they give you selective control over the luminance levels inside of the active layer and the composite view of the layers below. So what I want to do is I want to drop out these highlights and I can do that by dragging this white slider triangle over to the left. And notice if I drag it to 230, I am saying anything with a luminance level of 230 or higher becomes invisible, anything 230 or darker remains visible. Now I am going to zoom in here, so you can see what a cruddy mess this has become, we have all of these jagged transitions.

Normally, what you can do is you can Alt+drag or Option+drag the two halves of this triangle apart from each other and that creates a smooth transition between the invisible pixels and the visible pixels. And if this is news to you, check out the first chapter in my Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques series and it goes into all kinds of detail about luminance blending. Its' a part of the Online Training Library for those of you who are subscribers.

But in any case, this is not working for us, so for this specific image. Normally for another image, it might workout fine, but this image, it's not working at all. So lets just go ahead and take these guys and drag them back over to the right to make the whites visible once again. Instead, what I am going to do is I am going to Alt+drag or Option+drag the left half of this white slider triangle at the bottom in order to force through the more moderate highlights from the underlying background layer. So this looks a heck of lot better, you can see that I just got rid of my white.

So this is how the effect looked before with hot whites, this is how it looks now with the duller whites. That's actually- the duller whites- are a good thing; we don't want those highlights popping to that extent. So in this case, what I am saying is anywhere where the luminance levels on the background layer are 135 or darker, let them be covered up by Smart Sharpen. Anywhere where they are 135 or lighter, they are going to gradually force through the Smart Sharpen layer. So we are going to be able to see those highlights as we are seeing them right now. Now lets move the image over a little bit so that we can go ahead and get rid of some of the shadows and I am doing this by dragging the black slider triangle over to the right.

I don't want to go too far with it. I'll take it to about 30, lets say, so a luminance level of 30 or darker is becoming invisible at this point. You can see a bunch of jagged transitions right here around the hairs. So I'll go ahead and Alt+drag or Option+drag the right half of this triangle over to the right and I might actually drag this guy down over to the left a little bit as well so that we have nice group of transitional pixels between 16 and 60 here. If that's not enough for you, you could also force through a few of the original colors using the Underlying Layer slider.

In my case, though, I am going to just move it over a little like so to 20 and then I am going to Alt+drag or Option+drag the left half of that black triangle back over to zero. I end up getting some moderate values instead of those clipped highlights and shadows this time around, so it looks much better than before. I'll go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification and then finally what I am going to do, because this effect is little bit over the top. It's much more severe, it's a much more severe sharpening affect than what we created using High Pass. So I am going to press the 5 key in order to back off the opacity to 50%.

So this is what the image looked like before we sharpened it and this is what it looks like after we have sharpened it. So basically what we are doing is we are focusing in on the midtones; we are just sharpening the midtones. You know what, I am going to take that Opacity value up to 70% so that I can make sure that you see the effect inside the video. So once again, this is before; the unsharpened image that is to say and this is the sharpened version of the image with Smart Sharpen honed in on those midtones inside the image and thereby, we are avoiding clipping the highlights and the shadows.

In the next exercise, we are going to take a look at how we can apply our sharpening selectively using an Edge Mask. Stay tuned.

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