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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.
So far we've been talking theory and concept when it comes to improving the details in our photographs. Well, what I want to do in this movie is take a look at how we can apply what we've learned, how we can apply all of those concepts in order to make this photograph look better. In order to do that, we'll walk this image through a real life workflow. This is a photograph I captured recently of one of my friends, Emily, on her big day, her wedding day here, with her flower girl. And what we're going to do with this image is start in the basic panel and make a few simple adjustments, then we'll go quickly to the details panel to perform some input sharpening and noise reduction.
Now with this image I'm going to zoom in just a little bit on the photograph, so I'll click once or twice maybe, to zoom in. And I want to do that just to evaluate the type of details I have here, and to make some logical and smart basic adjustments. You know, the color and everything looks really good right out of the camera. The exposure's pretty good, so we're not going to need to do a ton. Here, I might brighten up the image just a little bit by increasing the exposure. I don't necessarily like how bright the highlights are, so I'll drop my Highlights value down.
That will create a softer and a little bit more of a flattering look in a picture like this. Maybe I'll give a little bit to the shadows there, increase the contrast, and I think with that we're in pretty good shape. I might just increase the color temperature a touch, as well. Alright, well after we finished our work in the basic panel, which we need to do first, before we go to details, the next step is to click on the Details tab. Once we get to the Details tab, we need to keep in mind this little warning message down here.
It's saying hey, zoom in to one 100%, don't forget to do that, otherwise, everything we do here, it's almost like we're doing it blind and it's not going to apply the right amount in sharpening or noise reduction. What I like to do to zoom in is to double click the Zoom tool, then press the Spacebar key, and click and drag around in order to view an important area of the photograph. And as you can see here, when we get up close, we actually have some color noise issues. We have some luminous noise issues.
We also notice that my friend Emily has the most amazing bright blue eyes. I mean, I think her eyes are even more blue in real life. Well anyway once we get into the image we want to pan around it and press the Spacebar key and click and drag. And we want to do that to get a feel for our shadow detail. Our skin tone. The areas that we want to have sharp. Here I'm seeing quire a bit of noise. So I'm going to tackle that issue first. Go down to noise reduction and drag over the luminescence noise slider.
I want to do this to a level where it starts to look good. As I bring this up, at least on my screen I can still see some color artifacting in the background. Let me try to zoom in really close on that, I wonder if you'll be able to see that too. You see all those little strange color issues? So I can't accurately determine my luminescence amount until I get rid of that. So I'll drop down to the color slider. And here I'll bring those up and now that is disappearing and that is making me a very happy camper.
I'll double click the zoom tool to go back to 100%. You won't need to go past 100% typically with your images, I just needed to do that so you could actually see what I was dealing with. And when it comes to the color work, I'm going to decrease my Detail slider a little bit there, because with this image I'm going to go for a little bit of a softer, less detail look. I think it will create for a more flattering or beautiful portrait. Same thing with my Luminescence slider. I going to increase this past where I normally would because, have you notice how if we really increase this it, it creates a nice soft look? If you go too far it looks strange.
But I'm just going to sneak this up a little bit higher than normal. For the detail, I don't need as many details in that area. I'm going to drop that down but of course, the Luminescence Contrast likes to tag along with its big brother over there, luminous noise reduction. So I'll bring that one up as well. Alright, well in doing that, I really like the details a lot better, a ton better. But the image is too soft. So that's where we need to go next, is to deal with the softness. And we'll do that by adding some sharpening.
Let's increase the amount. Nice default setting for your radius is right around 1. This is a high resolution file, from a really high end camera, so we could, or we might need to bring this up a little bit more. And we just slowly bring up the amount. The detail, we'll leave at zero. For most portraits, you want to drop your detail down and let me just exaggerate for a moment. If I bring the detail up, notice how it added all this sort of strange texture on her skin which wasn't even there. So, we want to keep that to a lower amount.
Then, we need to perform a little bit of some masking. If we hold down the Option key on a MAC, Alt on Windows, drag that old masking slider to the right, what we'll see is we can mask this away and you might be tempted to crank it all the way up so it's just sharpening the edges. Yet that won't look very natural, look a little bit strange. Sometimes, having some transition area, like somewhere down in here, can create a little bit more of a natural look.
And keep in mind that this isn't sharpening which is overdone. This is pretty subtle. I think it's a really clean, professional look. We'll click on the Preview checkbox. Here's our before and then here's our after. You know, in looking at the Preview, as often happens to me, I realize I think I need to sharpen this one a little bit more. I, I think it became just a touch too soft. So here I'll bring my sharpening amount up even more. This last step of looking at your preview, and looking at your before and after, is essential.
Another way to do it, of course, is to close your eyes and look away, or look back, and just to try to say, you know what, have I actually done good with this photograph. I've had students who sharpened their images and it looks worse than it did before or reduced noise and they reduced too much. And I've done the same thing myself. So, I like to think of the preview kind of as our safety net. And, you want to look at that before and after. And when you click on the Preview checkbox, it will only show you the before and after of the Detail panel, which is a really helpful view.
Alright, well, after you've gotten up close, done all this work, dialed in all your sliders, you want to zoom out as well. Press Cmd+Minus on a Mac, or Ctrl-Minus on Windows. The reason why want to zoom out is you want to step back and look at the entire photograph. You want to ask yourself, is there any other area that I should have zoomed into and evaluated? And in this case, I don't think there is. I think focusing in on the bride is the most important thing. She needs to look her best, and so that was our area of focus.
Yet, sometimes what I'll find in my workflow is I zoom out and I realize, oh, my gosh, I completely neglected something else, and then I'll zoom back into that area and make any needed changes based on what I'm seeing there as well. Alright, well, that wraps up what I think is a pretty real world scenario of looking at how we can go through our workflow, which involves using the basic panel, and also the Detail panel controls, to improve this picture.
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