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Photoshop CS5 for Photographers provides comprehensive Photoshop training targeting the needs of photographers. In this course, author Chris Orwig demonstrates the fundamental skills used to enhance digital photos, including managing and correcting color, sharpening, making selections and adjustments, retouching, and printing from Photoshop. In addition to teaching the techniques that enable photographers to refine and publish their photos, the course includes live-action segments that encourage thinking photographically and shooting with Photoshop’s capabilities in mind. Exercise files are included with the course.
Another great sharpening technique is to use what's called a High Pass filter. Let's take a look at how that filter works here. Well first, we know that we want to zoom into 100%. We will do so by pressing a shortcut on a Mac Command+Option+0, on a PC, Ctrl+Alt+0, and then press the Spacebar key and click and drag to reposition the image. Next, what we want to do is copy our background layer. We can do so by clicking and dragging this to the New Layer icon, or we can press a shortcut on a Mac Command+J, PC Ctrl+J. Let's name this new layer hp for High Pass.
Next step is going to be navigate to our Filter pulldown menu. Where you can go all the way to the bottom and then over to High Pass. In this High Pass dialog what we are going to see is we can control the radius. Now that's really interesting, too high a Radius. It's going to look weird, too low a Radius. We are not going to see anything at all. If you want more exact control, you can hover it over the word Radius and click and drag here. It will just give you nice percussion as you do this. Now one of things that we are looking for is to find a sweet spot where we are noticing that the edges look good, little details look nice, and the amount of edge and detail that we have will determine how this is actually sharpened.
I am going to increase this just a little bit more for demo purposes, but typically you would have it a little bit underneath what I have right now, probably somewhere about .6 for this image more realistically would be good. But again, for the demo I will crank it up just a touch. Okay, well, let's click OK. The next thing that I want to do is show you a problem with High Pass, and that is if I go ahead and open up Hue/ Saturation right now and saturate, we can see that there is so much noise in this image. So what we need to do is to desaturate this layer.
We can do so by way of shortcut, Shift+ Command+U on a Mac, Shift+Ctrl+U on a PC, or if you don't like shortcuts, go to Image > Adjustments and then here choose Desaturate, and if you forget the shortcut, it will be listed right there. Well, now that all the color has been removed, we can then go to the next step. And the next step is going to be to determine what blending mode will work best. Typically, we are going to alternate between Overlay, Soft Light and Hard Light.
Let's select Overlay for starters and then let's zoom in on the image even further so we can evaluate how it did. Click on the eye icon. Here's my before and then after. Well, that's pretty intense sharpening. Compare that to Soft Light. It's going to be a little bit less intense. Here is our before and then after. Typically I use Soft Light most often. Now Hard Light is going to be pretty interesting as well. Again, a pretty intense amount of sharpening here, before and after. Now depending on how far you set your radius in High Pass, it will really depend on what type of sharpening you use here, whether Overlay, Soft Light or Hard Light.
One of things that I like to do in regards to determining which blending mode works best with a particular image that I'm working on is to use a shortcut which allows you to scroll through these different blending modes. Here's what it is. If you hold on the Shift key and then press the minus key you can go backwards, here you can see I'm changing my blending mode right here, or if I press Shift+Plus I can go forwards. Now as I change that blending mode, it's also changing the way the image appears in regards to its overall sharpening.
Another thing that you can do with this is you can of course stack these layers up. For example, currently I have one layer of High Pass sharpening on Soft Light. Well, I can press Command+J on a Mac or Ctrl+J on a PC, and now I have two layers of that same amount of sharpening. And what some people do is they actually set just a teeny amount of their radius in the High Pass filter, and then they apply that Soft Light blending mode, and then they stack it up two or three or four times. And what it does is it gives us this really intriguing kind of subtle, yet, crisp look to images, and that particular look is pretty popular right now.
So whatever your taste with sharpening, you can dial this in however you see fit. Well, the one thing of course that we need to do whether we have one layer or two layers is we need to create a mask, right? So I am going to go ahead and delete my top layer just focusing on this one. In this case I'll go back to my Background layer, grab a Quick Select tool, and then make a quick selection of the athlete here. I don't want to sharpen the background, just want to sharpen the subject, because that's what is important in this case. And I'll go ahead make sure I have the glasses in there and all of that and rest of the jersey.
So I am just painting around this area to build up this selection and the nice thing about this is we are selectively sharpening a particular area of a photograph with this, and I'll make sure all of the jersey is selected down here. Hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt key on a PC if you make a mistake, and then click in your top layer, and then from there you can click on the Add Layer Mask icon. So what we have in this layer is, if we were to go ahead and change this to a blend mode of Normal, we can see we just have the High Pass here in this area, except I miss a little spot right there, grab my Brush tool, paint with white to bring that in.
There we go. Now I can go back to that blend mode after I fix that up and choose Soft Light, so that just this area of the image has been sharpened. Let's zoom in to evaluate our before and after. Here we have it, before and then after. Let's take it up to Hard Light, so you can see that a little bit better. Once again, before and after. The only thing I would want to do if I was using this Hard Light, is I would want to mask it off from the face a little bit. We could do so by selecting Black, lowering Opacity a touch here, and then just masking out the sharpening in the specific area, because we want to bring out too much detail of the face or the ear, or for that matter of the head in the hair there, so I will go ahead and diminish that just a touch.
So now I have the sharpening just primarily affected on the more important areas. All right. Well, as you can see, High Pass sharpening is a ton of fun, and it can lead to some really intriguing and interesting results. If you haven't ever experimented with High Pass sharpening, perhaps, today would be a good time to begin to test this out, and see how you can use High Pass sharpening on your own photographs.
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