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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'll be talking about two different topics. The first topic that we'll discuss is the importance of paying attention to the details in the sky area of a photograph. And then in that area, if we discover some noise, we'll look at how we can correct or remove that noise. I also want to talk about how we can perform what's called edge definition, or edge sharpening, to a photograph. We'll be working with two images, starting off with this picture, and then wrapping up our conversation with this longer exposure, this cityscape photograph.
All right. Well, I should point out as well that you can open up multiple images in Camera Raw by selecting them in Adobe Bridge. Then simply choose, file open in Camera Raw, and a filmstrip will appear here. Ad you can select a photograph by simply clicking on the thumbnail icon. And we're going to start off with this photograph that I captured up in the Sierra Mountains in California in the wintertime. Let's double click the zoom tool to zoom in to this photograph to 100%. Then we'll press the space bar key and click and drag in order to pan around.
And with this photograph I was using a shallow depth of field, so some branches are in focus while others aren't, and I kind of like the overall look that we have here. Yet what happens often when we have a sky area in a photograph is we forget to pay attention to it because it's kind of like the background. And we pay attention to the subject, the tree. Yet what we need to get into the habit of is zooming into the sky area. And here I'm going to zoom in past 100%. And I'm going to zoom in really close just for demo purposes. You won't necessarily need to get this close.
But when you get close to the sky area, often you'll encounter a lot of color and luminance noise. And that's just because digital cameras have a hard time rendering the color and the tones that we have in the sky area of our photographs. So, what we need to do is to often clean up that area. To do so, we'll go to the detail panel. And in the detail panel we'll apply or perform some pretty easy noise reduction. Here's what we need to do. We'll first bring up our luminance noise reduction amount, paying attention to the details that we have here, and removing the luminance issue.
Then we want to drop the detail slider down and bring the contrast slider up a little bit to add some shape to the photograph. So it's all about using luminance, lower luminance detail, and then a pretty low contrast as well. In regards to color noise, it's pretty similar. We'll have that color noise reduction, bring that up until it looks good. Drop the details slider down. And smoothness we'll leave right where it's at. Now, as I mentioned, you won't need to zoom in to 400%. For the most part, if you double click the zoom tool, which will take you to 100% view, this should be good enough.
All right. Well, there we dealt with the sky. And with the sky, at least in this view, I realize I need to bring my luminance slider up even more. I want a nice, smooth even tone in that part of the photograph. Then we need to deal with our sharpening. Now, because I'm interested in making sure the sky is nice and smooth, I'm going to drop my detail amount down to something probably below 10. Then I want to perform this edge definition, which I was talking about. To do that, we'll start off the same way that we normally do.
We'll increase our overall amount. But edge definition really revolves around the radius slider. Typically, I've said that you'll leave the radius slider alone, or leave it at a lower value. Well, that's the case in most scenarios except when you want to strengthen edges and you really want those edges to pop or to snap. If you hold down the option key on the Mac, alt on Windows, and drag the slider, you can see how as you increase this, it adds some great edge definition. So let's crank this way up to a higher value than we typically would if this were a portrait or a different type of photograph.
This image is really about the edges and about these branches and so I'm going to bring this way up. Now next we'll need to perform some masking. Often we'll have a higher level of masking, which will clean up the other areas. And if we bring this up even higher, what it can do is sort of tighten up the edges. Let me show you how that works. Again, hold down option on a Mac, alt on Windows. Notice how, as I bring this up, what it's doing is it's creating a mask which is limiting the area which is sharpened. And as we bring this up more it just helps for a better look around the edge part of the photograph.
Right now I think that my values are all a little bit high. Yet they're helpful in regard to see our before and after. Take a look. Here is the before, and now here is the after. If I move to an area where we see more branches, you can really see how we have nice edge detail. Now in this case, as I mentioned, I think this is a little bit too high for this photograph, just because I want it to look nice and natural. And so I'll modify these sliders just a little bit here. And I think that looks really good. All right. Well there is one scenario of cleaning up the sky and working on edge detail.
Let's take a look at another photograph, where we'll perform similar adjustments, and that's with this image, which is titled Cityscape. Again, we need to zoom in. Double click the zoom tool. That takes you to 100%. Press the space bar key, click and drag around, evaluate the detail that you have in the photograph. Here what I'm looking to evaluate is the detail I have in the shadow, or darker areas. I also want to pay attention to the sky. For demo purposes, I'm going in even closer. In this photograph, because it's a longer exposure, you can see that we have a lot of noise issue in the photograph.
So we'll work with our luminance noise slider, bring that up, drop the detail amount down, bring in a little bit of contrast. And I'm going to keep going with my luminance noise reduction to really get rid of a lot of the issues that we have in this area of the image. This one, because it's night time and longer exposure, our color noise will create some strange artifacts, so we want to bring that up. And then again I want to smooth this out to drop my detail value down to make sure there are less little details in the color noise area of the photograph. All right.
Well now that we've done that, let's zoom back to 100%. Double click the zoom tool to do so. This image is really all about these interesting edges. I want to exaggerate those. I want to bring those out. I want to draw attention to that part of the photograph. To do that, we know what we need to do. We need to work in our sharpening controls. Beginning with amount. Drag the amount slider to the right. Bring the radius way up. Hold down the option key if you want to, on a Mac, alt on Windows. And take a look at how you can bring that up.
And if you bring it up too far, the edges can actually look a little bit soft. So you want to bring it up to where those edges look a bit more defined, but not so far that they look soft. With this photograph it seems right around 1 point 8 looks good, at least on my monitor. The detail we'll drop back down. The masking, we're going to crank that one pretty high. Bring this up. Hold down the option key on Mac, alt on Windows, so you can really see how you can limit that or correct that so the edges are the area that are affected, and not other parts of the photograph.
Now with this image it looks like my detail slider is still too high so I'm going to drop that down. And then look at the preview. Here we'll click on the preview check box before, and then now after. And even with this exaggerated amount of my radius, and this high amount for masking here, it still has a relatively natural and clean look. It may be a little bit too high, so let me just drop these back just a touch. But I think we're going in a good direction. Here's before, and then now here's after. You know, when you apply sharpening like this, you want to press the space bar key, and click and pan around, and just evaluate how it's affecting other parts of the photograph, like this area here.
Here we'll go ahead and click on the preview check box to make sure this part looks good. Here's before, and then here's after. All of those edges I think look amazing. I want to look at the building in another area, again looking at that before and after, making sure that the overall picture looks much better. All right. Well here we'll zoom out, and I'll zoom out by pressing command minus on a Mac or control minus on Windows. And I just like to zoom out to make sure I can evaluate the whole image, make sure I've evaluated some important areas.
We looked at this part of the building here, this area, and also a little bit of this building. And I think with those views, at that close of a range, it gave us good insight to evaluate our sharpening and noise reduction, which looked great. Yet more important than all of that is this idea that we focused in on these two issues. First one, paying attention to sky detail. Do not ignore the sky in your photographs. And make sure that you reduce any noise that you see there using these controls.
And typically you'll have a lower luminance detail and a lower color detail amount, when you have an area of sky that you need to clean up. And then the second topic we talked about was this idea of how we can define, or strengthen, or sharpen edges. And when we do that it often revolves around having a higher radius amount, and also a higher level of masking as well.
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