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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.
According to conventional wisdom, you sharpen an image once and only once, at the end after an image is completely finished, right before or possibly after, the conversion from RGB to CMYK. After all each pass of the Sharpening filter is destructive and sharpening an image multiple times, which amounts to sharpening on top of sharpening, is madness. But as is so often in the case, the unconventional approach is not only a bit more exciting, it also happens to be better. Much better. Much, much better.
Sharpening at the end implies that you are merely sharpening for the printer, but there are other reasons to sharpen, to compensate for the capture process, for de-mosaicing, for anti-aliasing, for interpolation and if you are truly skilled, you'll sharpen the highlight areas and direct your viewer's attention. Simply put, you sharpen for source, for detail, for effect and for output, all in separate nondestructive passes. So if you were to ask me, should I sharpen at the beginning or in the middle or at the end? My answer would be, 'Yes, here's how it works'.
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