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Since the beginning of the photographic art form, photographers have been searching for clearer and sharper images. Now, you don't have to settle for what was captured in camera; you can perfect your photos in post-production. In this course, Chris Orwig tackles sharpening in three programs: Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom, and Photoshop. They all have their strengths, so he shows you how to get the best results from specific sharpening challenges with each one. Chris shows you how to reduce noise and sharpen with sliders and make selective adjustments to certain areas of raw images. In Photoshop, he uses powerful filters like Unsharp Mask and Smart Sharpen to sharpen larger areas of pictures, and masking to paint in sharpening. Last, he shares two advanced techniques, one using high pass sharpening and another that limits sharpening to the edges of your images.
In this movie, we will finish off our edge-sharpening technique which we began in the previous movie. So, if you didn't watch the previous movie, you definitely will want to go back and catch up to where we are right now. Well, at this point, we have a nice alpha channel. What we need to do next is to go back to our RGB composite view. We're going to ignore the alpha channel for a moment and we'll go into our Layers panel. In the Layers panel, we have the original background layer. Let's duplicate, or copy this layer in order to be able to apply some sharpening to it, and also to add a mask to that layer.
To copy the layer, press Cmd+J on a Mac, Ctrl+J on Windows, or drag the layer to the new layer icon right there. Then, double-click the layer name. Let's call this layer Edge Sharpening. Now, before we perform or apply the edge sharpening, what we're going to do is to build a mask based on the alpha channel. Here's how it works. We go back to the Channels panel. We'll go down to where we have the Edges alpha channel which we created.
Hold down Cmd on a Mac, Ctrl on Windows and click on that. That will load what we have here into a selection. Notice how we see all the marching ants across the photograph. So, again we go to the Channels tab, hold down Cmd on a Mac, Ctrl on Windows and click on what we created here which was called edges. Now, we'll go back to the Layers panel. In the Layers panel, we're going to create or add a layer mask based on this selection. So click on the Add Layer Mask icon.
Alright, so far so good. We turn off the underlying layer. What we'll see is that all that we have here, all that is visible are the edges and now we can sharpen and bring those out. So to do that, we'll go into the image itself. We'll navigate to our Filter pull down menu and then select Sharpen and Smart Sharpen. Inside of the Smart Sharpen dialog we're going to see the entire image because it isn't showing us the mask, right. So we need to define how sharp we want these edges to go.
In this case, I'm going to look to try to add some nice snap and glow to the edges. Want to remove perhaps a little bit of the noise that will deal with any color noise or luminance, brightness noise we may have in the photograph. And I'm going to bring this up to an exaggerated amount, and even though it looks overdone here, you'll see next that it's going to limit what's being sharpened in just a moment. So dial in a high Amount, high Radius, and then click OK. Once you click OK, you'll need to zoom in onto an area of your photograph to evaluate how it appears.
Here with this image, we'll look at this sculpture, which is called The Golden Gate Bridge and it does resemble that, doesn't it? Let me double-click the zoom tool to make sure I'm at 100%. Alright, well, there we are. Now, when we click on the Eye icon, we can see, here's before without edge sharpening, and then here's after. Notice how it's just adding a nice snap to the edges. This type of sharpening can be so useful in product photography, architecture, or just creative photography, like we have here.
And again, it just gives us this ability to have a really nice snap to those edges. I think I might need to zoom in further so that you can see the before and after better to kind of show you how this is affecting the photograph. And if I Shift+click the mask for a moment, which will disable it. You can see how that's affecting everything. Look at the difference. The mask again really just limits that to the absolute edge there and we can see how that's improving and changing the detail that we have in those edges. If, as you're working with this technique, you feel like the edges are a little bit too harsh or you might want to soften or modify them, you can do so in the mask panel.
Just double click your mask or navigate to the Mask panel. Here, for example, we can increase the feather amount. What that will do is it will soften the intensity of the edge. Let me show you a better view of how this affects the image by holding down Option on Mac, Alt on Windows and clicking on the layer mask here. Here is our mask. If I increase the feather, do you see how everything becomes a little bit softer and it sort of smooths that out? It's also going to create a little bit of transition to the other surrounding areas. So again, if you find the edges are too precise and exact, just bring up that feather slider a little bit and that can soften those.
Here, I will Option or Alt+click on the mask again to hide that view and then maybe just bring this up just a little bit there. Actually, I think it looks good without it. We don't need to go there. Some images, you may. This one, we don't. Alright, well there you have it. A unique sharpening technique, one which is worthwhile to know how to use so you can reach for it when you need to use it. Here it is, the final before and then now, the after
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