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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 a look at false sharpening, which is a sharpening like effect that results from extreme color modifications inside of Camera RAW and elsewhere inside of Photoshop. As we will see, the way to address the false sharpening effect is not to use your sharpening controls, but rather to back off of your extreme color modifications. Let me show you what I mean. I have the bridge trained once again on the 05_for_source folder here inside the exercise files folder, and I have selected an image called Limestone outcropping.dng.
Its very possible that this outcropping right here, this rock, comprises sandstone as opposed to limestone. I thing it's a mix, I am no geologist, but anyway it's very, very cool. I would like you to go ahead and press Ctrl+R or Command+R on the Mac in order to open this image. I captured this image using a LEICA D-LUX 3, which is essentially a point-and-shoot camera, but its great because it allows you to capture RAW images, and it offers a panoramic lens so that you can shoot very wide images, or in the case of this one here, very tall images.
I captured this image right next door to the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, and this is of course another high frequency still life shot. What I would like to do, I would like to up the drama of this image by darkening the sky. So I am going to zoom into the image a little bit, I not going to take it all the way to 100%, I am looking at the image at the 33% zoom ratio. I am going to switch over to this panel, the HSL/Grayscale panel, which I can get to by pressing Ctrl+Alt+4 or Command+oOption+4 in the Mac, if I wanted to.
Then I am going to switch to the Luminance subpanel right here, I am going to click on the Luminance tab, and I am going to drag the blues down to -50. You see how that ends up resulting in a deep dark sky, which is a lovely thing I think. Then I might take some of the saturation out of the sky, so its not such a brilliant blue, by switching over to Saturation. Similarly taking the blues value down to -50 once again, which ends up deepening the luminance of the sky, independently of all the other details inside of the image, but also because I have applied a big modification to one portion of an image, one group of hues inside the image, independently of all the other hues.
What ends up happening as a result, if I zoom in here, you can see that's got a ton of noise that's showing up inside of the sky. Now that's the least of my problems, because its not really there, as it turns out. This noise is popping up because Camera RAW adamantly refuses to show you the results of any of the options that are found inside the Detail panel when you are at any zoom ratio other that 100%. So this information, all this noise that we are seeing here, it's already smoothed away, it's not really there to the extent that we are seeing it. I will verify that by zooming in.
I will go ahead and zoom in to the 100% zoom ratio. As soon as I get there, you can see that the noise more or less disappears, there is still some luminance noise going on, but there isnt a terrible amount of color noise. I will show you what I mean. Lets go ahead and switch over to Detail. Notice that I have very little in the way of sharpening going on. These are the default sharpening settings incidentally. An Amount of 25, a Radius of 1 and a Detail of 25, those values are designed to get rid of the anti-aliasing and interpolation, that's a function of the demosaicing process, and nothing more.
that's what those values are intended for, so I will just leave them alone. Notice that I have modified my luminance and color values, if I were to zero those values out, especially the color value, I will set the color value to zero and press Tab. You can see that a ton of noise is showing up here, and that was the noise that we saw at the 50% zoom ratio. So no matter what Camera RAW is just bound and determined not to show you the results of these options, quite irritating actually, especially in the case of this particular image. Alright, lets go ahead and take this values back up to 30, which serve this image very nicely. Now I was telling you about false sharpening, that's the real problem in this image.
What do I mean' Well, check out that light halo that surrounds the mountain. Lets go ahead and zoom in so we can see it even more closely. You can see that sharp light halo that's surrounding the mountaintop there, if I switch back over to HSL/Grayscale, and I can see the luminance levels right there, if I switch this blues value back to 0, you can see that that light halo pretty well disappears, and that's because we are brightening the sky, essentially to match the halo. The problem with the halo is that it's a different hue value than the sky.
It comprises of some reds, some oranges, and some yellows, and all kinds of other hues, as it turns out. Alright, so lets go ahead and set this value back to -50. What in the world do we do? If we want this kind of radical difference between the sky and the foreground here, if we want the sky to appear much moodier, but we don't want to have this halo, what do we do about it? Well, you are not going to get anywhere by changing your Detail settings. Certainly, at this point we can only raise the Amount value, we are not applying much sharpening at all. Lowering the value, much as we hope that it would help us out, it doesn't really do any good, so might as well leave that value set at 25% in order to correct for the demosaicing process.
We are not going to really get anything out of Lens Corrections either, this isn't a function of chromatic aberrations, so you are wasting your time there. You can experiment with defringing, and actually in the case of this image, all edges doesn't really do us any good. You can see that it actually ends up exaggerating that halo, so it does us a fair amount of bad. Highlight edges does smooth out the contours in the sky a little bit, gets rid of the noise inside the sky ever so slightly, but not enough to really justify turning it on, so I would just leave defringe off. So whats the solution is the question? Well, the solution is to go back to HSL/Grayscale and see if one of the neighboring slider bars is going to help you out.
I am going to go ahead and zoom out a bit so that we can take in the sky. Again, the sky is going to look noisy at this zoom ratio, because we are no longer seeing the effects of our smoothing. So its going to look more noisy than it actually is. Now what I am going to do is, I am going to take down the Purples to -50 as well and see if that helps us out, and sure enough, it does deepen the sky dramatically, and it helps to deepen those halos just a little bit. What it shows me, is not so much its doing the halos any good, but its darkening the sky considerably, so maybe we don't need so much darkening of the blue value.
In fact, maybe we can have both these values; -25 and -25, and still get a deep sky without the halos, and sure enough, that's what we have got here. If I zoom in on this rock top right here, on the top of this rock structure; whether its limestone or sandstone, you can see that the halos have diminished considerably from where they were before, and if I zoom back out, so that I can take in more of the image but I am also seeing the noise and all the other artifact that's not really there, and I turn off the Preview check box, this is what the bright sky looked like, this is what the dark sky looked like.
So if you get that kind of false sharpening effect, don't look to the sharpening controls to fix it, because it is false sharpening after all, try to fix it using those same controls that you messed it up with. So the adjustment, these color adjustment options, they created the false sharpening effect, they can get rid of the false sharpening effect as well.
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