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The third part of the popular and comprehensive series Photoshop CS6 One-on-One follows industry pro Deke McClelland as he plunges into the inner workings of Adobe Photoshop. He shows how to adjust your color, interface, and performance settings to get the best out of your images and the most out of Photoshop, and explores the power of Smart Objects, Shadows/Highlights, and Curves for making subtle, nondestructive adjustments. The course dives into Camera Raw to experiment with the editing toolset there, and returns to Photoshop to discuss toning, blur, and blend modes. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details and reducing noise, as well as creating quick and accurate selections with Quick Mask, Color Range, and Refine Edge commands.
In this movie I'll introduce you to the Noise Reduction and Sharpening options that are available to you in Camera Raw. So I went ahead and selected this guy, Noisy hair guy.tif in Bridge and then pressed Ctrl+R or Cmd+R in the Mac in order to open Camera Raw. And we have got two panels of Noise options available to us. There's the Detail panel, which contains the corrective options; and then there's the fx options, which allow you to apply special effects. I am going to switch over to the Detail panel. And notice by the way, if I were to zoom out a click, I'd see this message down at the bottom of the screen, which tells me, for a more accurate preview, zoom the preview size to 100% or larger when adjusting the controls in this panel.
This image is sufficiently low-res that I can see it at 100% by pressing Ctrl++ or Cmd++ on the Mac, even on my small screen. Now, in Camera Raw 7, you don't, strictly speaking, have to be seeing the image at 100% to see the effects of Noise Reduction and Sharpening, it's just that at 100% you get the best sense of what's going on. We are going to start off with these Noise Reduction options, which are as in Photoshop divided into two groups; you have got these three luminance noise options and then two color noise options. I am going to start by cranking the Luminance option up to its maximum setting of 100%, and then I'll reduce Luminance Detail to 0, and you can see that wipes out just about all the luminance noise at the top of this image.
I'll press Ctrl++ or Cmd++ to zoom into 200%. We just have a little bit of that high contrast noise hanging on in the guy's forehead. If you want to bring back some of your high contrast edges, as well as your higher contrast noise, then you crank up this Luminance Detail value. And at about 50%, you can see that we're bringing an awful lot of that noise back into play, even though, as you can see here, if I zoom out, the lower contrast noise around the perimeter of the image remains defeated. Now, we also have this Luminance Contrast option, and you can barely tell the difference, even if I crank it all the way up to 100%, you can barely see any difference when working with the Luminance Detail option.
To really get a sense of what's going on, I'll take Luminance Detail down to 0 and now I'll show you this is how the image looks when Luminance Contrast is set to 0, keep an eye on those big groups of noise that are coming back in here. This is what things look like if I crank the value up to 100%. So as opposed to measuring the contrast between neighboring pixels the way Luminance Detail does, Luminance Contrast looks for higher radius blocks of detail, which can sometimes be useful for bringing back thick edges, while still defeating noise.
All right! I am going to go ahead and set this value down to about 50% and raise Luminance Detail to about 25%, and you can see that gets rid of most of the luminance noise inside this image. Now let's take a look at the Color Settings. I'll crank the Color value all the way up to 100% and then take Color Detail down to 0, and you can see that gets rid of a lot of that color noise down here at the bottom of the image, but not quite as neatly as the Reduce Noise feature inside of Photoshop. So rather than completely eliminating the noise the way we have seen in earlier movies, it tends to thicken up the noise, as you can see here. Now, Color Detail allows you to bring back higher contrast color noise, as well as higher contrast color details inside the image.
However, we have got a little bit of a bug in this build. Notice how much color noise we are now seeing when I have Color Detail cranked up to 100%, but that's because my mouse button is down. As soon as I release, the Preview resets to the same thing we saw when Color Detail was cranked down to 0%, and yet, if I were to open this image in Photoshop by clicking on the Open Image button, we would see more color noise than we see now. So you only get an accurate preview, again, in this particular build of Camera Raw 7.
We can only preview the effects of the Color Detail setting when you're mousing down on that triangle. All right. So just be aware of that when you're working inside the program. I'll go ahead and take Color Detail down to 50% and scroll the Preview, so we are more or less centered on this guy's face. All right. Now let's take a look at the Sharpening options. Now, these Sharpening settings are not designed to sharpen the image the way we saw with say Smart Sharpen inside of Photoshop back in Chapter 13 of the Intermediate course. Rather, these options are designed for two purposes; one is to firm up the detail that gets soften during the demosaicing process, when the full color image is generated from the monochrome data that's captured by the camera.
And the other reason you might use these Sharpening settings is to account for the softening effects of the Noise Reduction values. So you just want the image to look moderately sharp on screen. That said, I am going to go ahead and crank the Amount value up to its maximum of 150, so that we can see what's going on with the other options. We have got a Radius value, which you can set as low as 0.5 and as high as 3. Most of the time however you are going to want to leave it set to 1, as I will do here. This Detail setting is an adjustable version of that more accurate checkbox, that's included along with the Smart Sharpen Filter, and it might be more accurately called Sharpen Noise, because that's what it ends up doing in most images. And certainly, that's what's going to happen in this particular image.
Notice if I crank this value up, we are sharpening the contrast between neighboring pixels and we are making a mess in particular of this image. Unless you are working with a very low noise image, I recommend that you generally set the Detail value to 0. Masking allows you to create an edge mask on the fly, and to get a sense for how it works, I want to show you a tip that works with all of the sharpening options. If you press and hold the Alt key or the Option key on the Mac and drag one of these triangles, for example I am dragging the Amount triangle, then you'll see a luminance only version of the image. So in this case we're seeing how Camera Raw sharpens just the luminance data and never sharpens the color data.
You can also Alt+drag or Opt+drag the Radius triangle to see those dark and light halos develop on the fly, and you can Alt+drag or Opt+drag the Detail triangle in order to see that noise sharpening. I am going to crank this guy back down. That's all very interesting, I think, but Alt+dragging or Opt+dragging becomes most useful when working with the Masking setting, because it permits you to actually preview the mask on the fly. So here I am Alt+dragging or Opt+dragging on that Masking triangle and I can see what the mask looks like. And bear in mind where masks are concerned, wherever we are seeing white, that area will receive sharpening; wherever we're seeing black will not get sharpened. So I'll go ahead and take this value up to say 65, and as soon as I release, you can see that just these edges around the hair and the ear and the glasses and so forth, those are the only areas that are receiving sharpening.
Notice also that the nose and the mouth and the chin are not getting sharpened, and the reason for that is there's so little luminance information to work with; most of the distinctions that we're seeing are color as opposed to detail. All right, so that's how the Detail options work. In the next movie I'll show you how to use them to correct a handful of digital photographs.
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