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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.
In this movie, we will focus in on improving sky detail and edge sharpening when working with the detail panel controls. We'll be working with two different images, starting off with this photograph, and then we'll wrap up our conversation with this image here. And while these images appear differently, we'll apply similar settings in order to accomplish great results. Let's start off with this photograph. It's a picture of a tree that I captured way up in the Eastern Sierra Mountains in California in the winter time.
And if we click on the image in order to zoom in on it, one of the things that we'll start to notice is that the edges in this photograph are a little bit soft. What I want to do is add some definition or strength, or I want to sharpen and define those edges. I also notice that there's a lot of luminance noise in the sky, and this is a typical problem with digital capture. If noise is going to show up, it often shows up in the sky area of a picture. Let me zoom in on that so you can see it better. Here I'll go to the navigator panel and go to an 8:1 view.
Now in an 8:1 view, I'm hoping you can see all the luminance noise. You want to pay attention to the sky and zoom in close. You don't need, need to zoom in this close, but at least zoom in to 100% on the sky in your photographs, and then reduce the luminance noise. Be careful with your detail amount. You don't necessarily need a very high detail amount. You want to drop that a little bit lower. Contrast as well. You won't need as much contrast when you're really trying to improve the sky. Color noise, bring that up. And just to look to really smooth the sky area out.
As you start to do that, if you see that the noise is still lingering, like it hasn't completely gone away, go to your sharpening control and reduce the Detail slider all the way down to 0. Just to make sure that this sky looks its best. Again, you'll want to do this at a 100% view. I went and paste that just so you could actually see those little details. But when you work on photographs which have sky, make sure you really pay attention to that and don't neglect that.
Of course, sometimes what will happen is you'll need to clean up the sky, but then you also may need a little bit of details other places as well. So, it will be some back and forth and give and take here, but nonetheless, that will give you some insight into how you can work on that part of the photograph. Alright, well, next let's work on the edges that we have in this image. To improve those, I'll crank up my sharpening and I'll go pretty high with the sharpening amount. Next I'll bring up the radius. You know, typically the radius stays right where it is, but not with edge sharpening.
With edge sharpening, we want to bring that up. If you hold down the Option key on a Mac, and Alt on Windows, you can see how a higher radius can help us to strengthen the edges in the photograph. So here I'll bring that up of a nice high radius amount, and then also a high amount of sharpening. Now this is sharpening some of the background areas as well. We'll take care of that by working with the Masking slider. Hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt on Windows, and bring up the Masking slider so that the sharpening which is being applied here is primarily on our edges.
If we click on the toggle switch, what you should see is in our before and after, a photograph which has much stronger edge definition. This is probably a little bit over the top, so I'll bring up my masking more, and I'll reduce the radius and the amount. Yet for demo purposes, what I'm hoping is that you can see how those edges pop now, and how we've created really strong, defined edges. Again, it's a little bit too high, so I'm just going to scale these back and bring the masking up a little bit more.
The further you bring your masking over to the right, the narrower the edges, so that can help you to really clean up those edges, and right now with these amounts, I think this looks awesome. Alright that's image 1, let's look at image 2. In image 2, we have a similar scenario. Let me zoom out for a moment so we can see it. This is a longer exposure. We have sky details, so we need to focus in on the sky. We also have this image which is really all about the edges. I mean, the edges in this image are glowing, and I want to exaggerate that.
So again, we'll zoom in on the picture. Let's zoom in on an area where we can see the building and also the sky. I know I need to get rid of some of the noise, so I'll work on my luminance noise amount. Drop the detail back down and bring up a little bit of contrast. I'm going to drop the Detail slider all the way down. Bring my luminance amount even higher. The photograph, on my monitor at least, looks a lot better. Let me zoom in. Let's try 4:1. See if you can see a difference here.
Here's before and after, and how we're starting to work on cleaning up detail there, and do so with the Luminance sliders. Next, for the color noise, we need a little bit more color noise because this is a longer exposure. Whenever you have a longer exposure, it increases the chances of color noise corrupting or messing up the file, so let's bring that value up a little bit. Then, for edge sharpening, we know how to do this, right? Our amount goes way up, our radius goes way up, detail, we'll drop that back down, and then masking, that's going to come up as well.
Again, these are almost identical to the type of settings which we applied on the previous image. We could, of course, use the shortcuts, hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt on Windows, to find just the right spot for the masking. We could also do the same thing with our radius. Hold down Option or Alt and look at just the right amount of that intensity of the edge sharpening, and then you can slide your amount around until it looks good. But if I click on the toggle switch here, what you can see is that while the photograph looks sharper, it doesn't look unnatural, even with this unnaturally high amount of my radius.
Even if I bring this up past this, you can see that this now gives it a really nice look where we have these defined edges. You want to pan around the photograph and make sure it's improving other parts of your image. So just go to another area, click on and off the toggle switch to make sure that's improving the sharpness, the edge detail, and the noise reduction. And with this photograph, I think it looks great. So I'll zoom on out of the image so we can evaluate the whole photograph. And again, here with this movie, my intent was to highlight two different things.
One was the importance of paying attention to the sky and reducing any noise you see there, working with our luminance and color controls. And then second, we looked at a technique where we can break the rules so to speak, and really increase our overall radius when looking to intensify the edges or to sharpen those edges, to add some more definition or visual interest to certain types of photographs.
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