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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 the noise reduction functions inside Camera RAW. I want you to navigate the Bridge to the 05_for_source folder, same place that we have been here, and find an image called Subterranean ventilation.dng. Then go ahead and press Ctrl+R, Command+R in the Mac, in order to open it inside of the Camera RAW dialog box. Notice what we have here is this strange sort of ventilation silo going to the underworld. I am not sure what's happening here, but I found it near the foothills in Colorado.
You can see these jagged rocks sticking up here, these great flat irons. This is a pretty interesting image I think, I am going to go ahead and zoom in on it, not only because it has a lot of depth of field going on here, but also because we have a ton of noise at work inside this image. This image qualifies as a high frequency shot, because there is a lot of little details going on, a lot of rapid transition between neighboring luminance levels. But even so I have applied some pretty pepped sharpening values, if you switch over here to the Detail panel, you can see that I have got a relatively high Amount value I suppose, a very low Radius value, but the detail and masking values are not to high or too low actually, they are fairly even steven, as you can see here.
I am doing a lot to protect the details, the small details inside the image. I am going to go ahead and zoom in here to the 100% zoom ratio, so that we can see that if I Alt-drag or Option-drag this Masking slider triangle, I am protecting huge areas of non-edges inside the image. But when I go ahead and release, you will see a lot of noise that's showing up, and noise of course are arbitrary variations between neighboring pixels; whether they are color variations or luminance variations.
So I am going to go ahead and zoom in a little more closely here, on the side of this ventilation silo or whatever it is. You can see that we have quite a bit of color noise going on. Now the color noise in this image is exaggerated by the fact, if I go over to the Basic panel, by the fact that I have raised the vibrance and saturation values; they are both set to fairly high values, 40 and 40. What that's doing is its bringing out the vibrancy of the colors, its bringing out the saturation values, but its also bringing out any noise that's inside the image, any color noise.
Also I have applied a little bit of clarity. The clarity value is a way of expanding the edge contrast without effecting the sharpness of the image. So its analogous to applying a high radius value, something like 20 pixels or higher, and a very low Amount value with Unsharp Mask, that's what you get with clarity. So you can see, if I raise that clarity value, I am magnifying the shadow and highlight detail around the edges, inside the image. Alright, so I am going to set that clarity back to 20, but that ends up magnifying the luminance noise inside the image as well, just a little bit, not so much as the color noise is getting exaggerated, but a little bit.
Alright, now lets switch back over to detail, because that's where we can compensate using these noise reduction sliders here. The most important of the two is color. You are almost always going to want to apply some color noise reduction, which is why this value is set to 25 by default, and notice that that value of 25 does a heck of a job of getting rid of that color noise inside the image. I am going to go and zoom in to 300% so that we can take this up close and personal here. This is before, turn off the preview check box, you can see a lot of wandering color inside of what should be just kind of a neutral brown silo here, this is drab paint that's going on.
This is after I have gone ahead and replaced the colors with their drab brown, which is what I want. Now you don't want to go too high with this color value, because if you do you will start getting a lot of color bleeding between neighboring details, something along the lines of what we are seeing right here. The value of 25 is a really great value, for most images I recommend anything between 20 and 30. Actually, even for this image which has some radical noise variations as you can see, a color value of 20 does quite nicely. So you want this value to be as low as it can be and still get good results out of it.
So you want this value to be as low as it can be while still getting results out of it. Now this image still suffers from a lot of luminance noise, which is random variations between luminous levels, between neighboring pixels, and I will show you how to fix that, not only using a luminance slider, but also a few other options, and we will fix the chromatic aberrations in the next exercise.
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