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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.
Another way that we can selectively sharpen and improve other details of a larger area of a photograph, is by working with what's called the graduated filter. The graduated filter allows you to make a linear adjustment over a larger area of an image. We'll be working with this beautiful resort photograph here, and what I want to do is I want to sharpen the top of the photograph, and then I want to soften or reduce the noise in the lower region or area of this picture. Yet before we start to work with the graduated filter, first let's zoom in on this picture.
To do so, position your cursor over the photograph, and then click a few times in order to zoom in, or press Cmd+plus on Mac, or Ctrl+plus on Windows. When we zoom in close, one of the things I notice is that there is some noise in the image. It also is a touch soft. So before we start to work with the graduated filter, let's apply a global adjustment to the whole image. To do that, we'll work with the Detail panel. Here, open up the Detail panel and one of the things we need to do is get rid of the luminance and the color noise.
So, I'm going to jump straight to my Luminance Noise slider here and drag this to the right. Also add a little bit of contrast. Next, I'll drag up the color noise reduction as well. Already, the photograph, at least in my view, on my monitor, it's looking a ton better. Then, for some sharpening. Here, we'll want to do some edge sharpening, so let's lower the detail value, increase our amount and then also bring up the masking slider here. This will ensure that we have nice, crisp edges, and here the photograph is already looking better.
I want to sharpen the top of the image even more, as I mentioned. So, after you work in the Detail panel. What we can then do is press Cmd+minus on a Mac or Ctrl+minus on Windows so that we can zoom out to see the entire photograph. Next, select the graduated filter by tapping the M key on your keyboard or by clicking on the graduated filter icon. With this filter, we can dial in all different types of effects. The one we're going for is sharpness. So, let's click on the pull down menu and then select Sharpness.
Once we've chosen that, it will zero everything out except for the sharpness slider which we can then customize and I want to add a little bit of sharpening. Here I'll try an amount, maybe high 60s will be good. I don't want to go too far right because we've already added some sharpening to this photograph. I also know that, if I'm going to sharpen an image, I'll probably bring out some unwanted noise. So, let's drop the Noise slider down a touch. Now, in order to understand how this tool works, what I want to do next is add an adjustment here which is going to look bad, but will help us understand the parameters of this adjustment and then, after we can see that, we'll remove it.
And what we'll do here is decrease the exposure. I'm going to go ahead and click and drag this to the left. Then next, position your cursor over the image, and click and drag. Now when I click and drag you can see how we can rotate this around. You can also see how we can extend this for a larger transition area. We have a overlay graphic with a center circle. This is the effect. It comes up to this point and then transitions, or tapers, off. We can move this by clicking and dragging this to a new location. We can also shorten the intensity of the falloff or the transition, by clicking on one of these outer lines here, and then dragging those closer together, in doing that, there's a shorter transitional area.
Now right now, we have a negative exposure, which looks bad. So, let's bring that back to a more normal setting and rather than reducing exposure in the sky, what I want to do is perhaps change the color temperature. So, here I'll drag my Temperature slider to the right. That will warm that up a little bit. Then maybe we'll drop down our highlights. Again, whenever we're focusing in on details, we want to, of course, apply the Sharpness and Noise Reduction, but then maybe, add a few other adjustments, as well. Well there is the first adjustment with our graduated filter.
That is adjustment number one. What about the second one? What about fixing up the foreground? To do that, click on the New button. Once you've done that, let's go back to our Effects slider, and here, let's choose Sharpness again. Again, that will zero everything out except for this slider, which we can customize. In this case, I want a negative amount of sharpness and a little bit of noise reduction, and I also am going to change my color temperature. So, I'll drag this slider over to the left. In doing that, we'll have an effect, a linear adjustment, which we can bring in over a large area, which has a reduced color temperature, reduced sharpness, and a little bit of noise reduction.
Next, simply click onto the image and drag. In doing that, you can see how we can drag this adjustment around. What I want to do is drag from the bottom up, so that the water here in the foreground has a little bit of a blue tint to it and is also a bit softer. We can shift where this appears and change the transition area, by shortening the distance here between these two points. So it's a little bit more of a, or little bit less of a transition, I should say. Alright. I think that's pretty good. The blue is too strong.
I went too far. I went overboard with that blue there. So let's bring this back, make that a little bit more subtle. I think the beauty of this photograph is the subtlety. So, I want to keep in line with that, but add a little bit more of a color to that area of the photograph. Well, if we click on the Flip switch right here, you can see this is the before, and then now here's the after. If the overlay graphics are distracting, go to the toolbar and, here choose auto. What auto will do is, when you hover off of the image, the overlay graphics will disappear.
Which, in my opinion, is essential to be able to evaluate if it actually looks good, right? So again, let's click on the flip switch. There's the before, and then there's the after. Well, that looks really good. Let's zoom in on the image. Press Cmd+plus on a Mac, Ctrl+plus on Windows. Let's get up close to these details here. And let's click on the flip switch. Make sure the sharpening amount and the color that we added looks good up close. In this case, I think we have some nice detail up there.
I'll press the spacebar key and click and drag to look at the details that we have down here in this part of the photograph. Click on the toggle switch to look at the before and then the after. And I might soften that one up even a little bit more. So, I'm going to go ahead and drag that over to the left. Then we can zoom out. I think we've done a pretty good job on this. And you can zoom out by pressing Cmd+minus or Ctrl+minus on Windows. Alright. If ever you need to adjust the settings in one of these, just click onto the little node right there and when you do that, it will reactivate those controls.
You can move these around a little bit, if you need to. Here, I'm going to move this one down so I can select this other adjustment. You can see how we can warm the top part up even more. Or we can go down to this lower one and here, I'll remove some of the cooler tones. So, it's a little bit more subtle. Last but not least, let's look at the before and after. Here it is. There's our before and there's our after. And there's a good example of how you can use a graduated filter when you're interested in working on a larger area of a photograph, whether that's to reduce noise or to soften that area or, to sharpen it and change a bit of its overall color, look, and feel.
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