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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 kids, we are taking up where we left off in last exercise, so I am still at work inside the Unguarded moment.jpg file and all I have really done so far in a way of actual practical application of the tools is to go ahead and choose the Reduce Noise command under the Noise submenu, which is under the Filter menu, and I have brought up the Reduce Noise dialog box of course. Now I have gone ahead and reduced the Sharpen Details value to 0%, which is what I recommend you do for any and all images that you encounter. Because I prefer to apply my sharpening using Smart Sharpen or one of the other tools after I apply the Reduce Noise command because it gives me more control and I suggest you do the same, of course.
Now in this case, it's hard to see inside of the video and it's even subtle on screen but we have managed to get rid of the noise inside of the shadow detail and currently we are looking at the right side of this woman's neck, right above her collarbone. So right in this area would be her jugular presumably. Just to give you a sense of where we are geographically inside the image. Alright, so just in case you can see this, let's go and zoom in just little bit more, we are going to have less context but we will be able to see whats going on. If I click and drag this image, you can see the original noise.
If I release, you can see the noise dissipate. It's very subtle but given that we need to sharpen the image and we saw how bad it gets after we sharpen the image, we do need to first reduce the noise. Alright, so I am going to go ahead and take the Strength value down a little bit. What I typically do, by the way, is I go ahead and reduce Preserve Details down to 0% just while I am working, while I am trying to figure out what the best settings are. I take down the Reduce Color Noise value to 0% as well and then I fool around with the Strength value until I see that noise more or less go away inside of the image.
It's about at a Strength value of eight that I see this noise go away and get smoothed over. Now if you look closely, you can still see color noise inside the image that is random variations and color values. So I am going to have to increase the Reduce Color Noise value as well. And this one is measured as a percentage. So it goes from 0% to 100% whereas Strength just goes from 0 to 10. And I am going to go ahead and take this Reduce Color Noise value up to 45% where this image is concerned and of course, this is a subjective, a purely subjective evaluation.
I am just looking at what I can see on screen and trying to make a decision based on it. But I tend to actually keep the Reduce Color Noise value some place between 25% and 60%, but that's just kind of this vague guideline that I found for myself over time here. I am also going to take this Preserve Details value up to about 20% for this particular image. Now I tend to go low on Preserve Details because I would rather go a little too strong with this filter than too weak with it. Because really, if you start raising this value up too high and you take the Strength value too low, you are not going to do much in a way of any good for your image.
It might be good enough for screen work but for print, it's barely even going to resolve. So I tend to go little strong with these values. So as I say, I am taking Strength up to 8 and I am taking Preserve Detail down to 20 and that's it. 8, 20, 45, and 0, leave Remove JPEG Artifact turned off for this particular image because it doesn't have a problem with JPEG compression and I will click OK. Even though it a JPEG image, by the way, it's a high quality JPEG image. So there is not much in the way of JPEG artifacts at work here. I'll go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification and the filter is not a super fast filter so it does take a few moments to apply.
So you just have to wait have for this spinning beach ball on the Mac or that's spinning blue thing on Windows Vista anyway to disappear. It's not going to look all that different; this is the before view of the image. So lets go and zoom in on her eye. That's where we are likely to see the biggest difference. This is the before version of the image and this is the after version of the image. So a little bit of softening going on, but not nearly as big of an effect as we saw with the Median command, for example, and a more likely degree of effect that we'd see with Despeckle but its a very different effect. It is a much more disciplined effect that's being applied.
Alright, so now that we have done that you may recall in the previous exercise in History palette, we made sure that we kept the Smart Sharpen state, which is the sharpened version of the original image without any noise reduction. Now lets go ahead and apply Smart Sharpen to the reduced noise version of the image. I am going to go up to the Filter menu and choose the Smart Sharpen command. I am going to go ahead and accept those exact same settings that we have applied before. So there is over the top Amount value of 500%, a Radius of 4.0 and so on, click OK in order to accept that. The reason I am doing this over the top version of the Smart Sharpen filter, it's just so that we are comparing apples to apples. Just so that you can see the difference here.
This is Smart Sharpen after reduce noise and this is Smart Sharpen by itself, right there. Big difference as you can see. Tons more color artifacts going on and more artifacts in general, a lot of luminance artifacts as well. So this is the much smoother Smart Sharpen version. Lets go ahead and zoom out here so that we can take in more of her face. Now she is over-sharpened at this point. I would not really apply this much sharpening to this image. But just so you can see it, it's downright subtle compared to the previous effect, to Smart Sharpen by itself. So this is Smart Sharpen by itself.
We have got all of these almost like flakes of snow on her at this point and we have all of these purple artifacts that are showing up in her hair. We could get rid of those, of course, by applying the Luminosity blend mode in order to settle that stuff down but we would still have way too much sharpening going on and way too many artifacts being drawn out. And especially, check out this shadow detail, this is different. This is the Smart Sharpened shadow detail by itself and this is the shadow detail subject to noise reduction and then Smart Sharpen on top of it.
Now we are still seeing too many noise artifacts and that's because we went crazy with Smart Sharpen. Now that I have gone ahead and compared the two variations on Smart Sharpen, let's apply a more normal amount of sharpening. I am going to go ahead and click on Reduce Noise to back up to it. Then I am going to press Ctrl+Alt+F or Command+Option+F on the Mac in order to re-invoke the Smart Sharpen filter here. I am going to reduce that Amount value to 200%, which is still a high value, but it's a more normal value for this image and actually would be well suited if we are going to output with this image.
It's a good amount of sharpening. She is going to look a little crunchy on screen here. Lets actually even take her higher, 250%. So that's going to keep her good and crunchy on screen but its going to look great in print as I'll show you. So anyway, an Amount value 250%, a Radius of 4.0, click OK. Of course, we would go ahead follow that up with an application of the Luminosity blend mode. So lets go ahead and hide the History palette, so we can see what we are doing. Even though we are not necessarily noticing an awful lot of color artifacting that's happening inside the image, it is still there. And it's always worth, if we are working with a flat effect, going up to the Edit menu and choosing the Fade Command or if we're working with a layer, go ahead and apply the Luminosity blend mode directly to the layer.
But either way you need to apply that Luminosity blend mode. So I am going to go ahead and choose the Fade command. Go to Mode, set it to Luminosity. It's going to settle down the effect and then click OK. And you are probably going to notice the most in the eyes and her hair as well. This is the final sharpened version of this image and just to test it out, to make sure that its going to look good in print, what I would suggest you do is go ahead and image size it down, just temporarily, of course, just to soft proof it on screen to your screen resolution which you measured back in Chapter 1. So I am going to press Ctrl+Alt+I or Command+Option+I on the Mac.
Notice that I have got it set to 8 inches wide by 12 inches tall. This is the native resolution, by the way, for the digital camera that captured this image. The resolution happens to be 292 when the width is 8 and the height is 12 inches. I am going to go ahead and click on Resample Image and I am going to reduce that resolution down to 117, which is my conceit, right? That's what I am pretending my screen resolution is for the purposes of this series. And then I am going to click OK in order to accept that modification and now lets just go ahead and zoom in on the image and this is the final version of the image. It's going to pop off the page.
We could have probably stood to apply even a little more sharpening than this frankly. We do have a little bit of noise that's surviving down here in the shadow detail but its going to resolve out very, very nicely in print. A beautifully sharpened image. Thanks to the combination of Reduce Noise and Smart Sharpen here inside Photoshop.
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