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Real focus happens inside the camera's lens element. The sharpening features in Photoshop CS3 exaggerate the contrast along edges in a photograph to transform a well-focused image into an outstanding image. In Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images, Deke McClelland teaches a host of sharpening and noise reduction techniques, including using filters such as Unsharp Mask, Smart Sharpen, High Pass, and Reduce Noise. The training teaches the essentials of sharpening, including what it does, why it's important, and how the filters function. Plus, the training covers Deke's recommended best practices, including the four distinct varieties of sharpening, which can be used independently or in combination with each other. Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images is about how to transform images from looking good to looking their absolute best. Exercise files accompany the course.
Now that we have seen the first half of the sharpening support staff, namely the smoothing filters such as Median and Surface Blur and Reduce Noise and the rest, we are going to visit the second half of the support staff which includes things like Smart Objects and Smart Filters and other non destructive ways to apply filters as well as ways to apply filter selectively including edge mask and non-edge masks. We are going to start things off with Smart Objects and we are going to use this guy right here as our guinea pig, as it were, even though he is a very large guinea pig, of course, The name of this image Shaggy behemoth.jpg found inside 04_support_staff folder, and this image comes to us from me.
I actually shot it out of the window of my car as we were driving through the Black Hills of South Dakota. We were surrounded by these animals, must have been a couple of hundred of them and they were on the road as well. These are all very exciting because couple of the bulls were fighting each other. I could have reached down and touched them, if I was like Mr. Fantastic, if I had really long arms, but instead I decided to capture a few photographs and this is one of them. Now this image is cropped and I shot it with a Leica Deluxe 3, which is a 7 mega pixel camera, something like that, but I cropped this down to about a 5 mega pixel image, and if I press Ctrl+Alt+I or Command+Option+I in a Mac, I can bring up the Image Size command.
You can see that the image measures 11 inches wide, 8.5 inches tall, and 240 pixels per inch. Obviously, I spent a fair amount of time getting those exact measurements there, but I did not resample the images. Strictly cropping. I did a little bit of fixing to the luminance levels but that's about it. Very little work done to this image. So I will go ahead and cancel out here. And yeah, the image is actually in poor shape. Now you will see what I mean in just a moment, but we will start with the focus. Notice that the foreground grass down here at the bottom of the image, that's in focus and the background grass over here, that's in focus as well, but somehow the animal seems to be a little soft.
Well, he can't be, obviously if the foreground and background are in focus, he is in the middle of that depth of field. This is a flat depth of field. So he is by definition in focus as well. It just that it's fur does not render out very well inside of this photograph, and we will bring it out. We are going to make to this guy look super sharp by the time we are done. But in the mean time, he is in kind of rough shape. You are going to see it better, if I go ahead and sharpen it. So lets go up to the Filter menu and notice that Smart Sharpen, that's the last command, I applied. So I might as well just go ahead and press Ctrl+Alt+F or Command+Option+F on the Mac. And each of the settings, I am going to apply for demonstrational purposes.
I am going to turn around and undo it in just a moment. So we are going work with an Amount value of 350%, a very high Amount value, and a Radius of 4.0 of pixels. Lens Blur is our Remove setting. More Accurate is turned off, because he is essentially a portrait shot. Even though he is an animal, this is essentially a portrait shot, because it's a low frequency image. We have smooth contours that work inside the image, not a lot of rapid transitions from one luminance level to another. So we want to keep More Accurate off. I will go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification but even though we have given a fairly reasonable sharpening settings, I mean, high because the Amount value is 350% but 4.0 pixels and Lens Blur, that works out pretty well for print purposes, especially given our resolution.
And check it out, it's done some pretty big damage to this creature. If I zoom in here, actually I'll zoom in a click farther, this is the animal's eye and you can see over here to the left of the eye, the horizontal lines sort of running through that are coursing through the shadow detail inside the image. And this is not JPEG compression artifacts or anything like that, this is camera artifacting. This is something that the camera has delivered to us, for whatever reason. Could be the function of the camera model, it could be the function of my camera, it could be a function of the shot, that it did not have a lot of detail to work with, it did not have a lot of detail inside the shadows to work with.
It could be for a variety of reasons, but whatever the reason, it is showing up inside of this image and it is something we have to deal with. I will go ahead and zoom out and you can see that there are some color blotching going on as well. If you look closely, right around this area here, there is a sort of burgundy pattern going on whereas out in this region we have some fairly continuous orange and brown details going. We do see smattering of green color artifacting that showing up as the result of a Smart Sharpen filter but this burgundy is in the image even when it's not sharp.
You can see it, you can make it out on screen, on your screen, if you open up the image, even if you have not sharpened the details. We have got some issues to deal with, is basically where it comes down to. What I am going to do, just to clear the slate here, I am going press the F12 key or I could choose the Revert command under the File menu, in order to restore the original version, the saved version of the image. So far, we have been applying filters destructively, that is to flat versions of the image, and I have only been doing that because I wanted to just focus in on, pardon the pun, I wanted to focus in on the filters without a lot of other falderal to sort of confuse the issue.
Now that we know the filters, we need to begin to work non-destructively because that's by far the better way to work. There are a couple of different ways to work non-destructively. One is to pop the image on to a new layer, to jump it to a new layer, apply your settings to that duplicate image and then you have got the underlying original to blend with, if you so desire. But it is also a safety measure so that underlying original is there, in case you need to go back to it. In a case of the flat file like this one, that ends up doubling the size of the image in memory and it increases the size of the file on disk as well. The better way to work, if you can work this way, is to put the onus on Photoshop to do the work for you without a lot of overhead and that means converting the image to a Smart Object and then applying Smart Filters to it.
You can convert multilayered image to a Smart Object or you can convert a flat image to a Smart Object, either way. A Smart Object is basically a file inside of a file and you will see what that means in just a moment. Alright, so I have got the layer selected, the Background layer selected here inside the Layers palette, I will go ahead and make the palette a little wider, so we can see the work background there. Then I going to go up to the Filter menu. There are two ways to make a Smart Object. One is to go the Filter menu and choose Convert for Smart Filters, and that will bring up a little warning message and it will tell you you are about to make a Smart Object. The other way to work, and I think the better way to work long term here, especially if you have got multiple layers that you are trying to combine into a single Smart Object, the better to work is to grab your layers and that means clicking on one, Shift-clicking on the other one, in order to select a range of layers, for example. In our case, we have just got one and then you go to the Layers palette menu, and you would choose Convert to Smart Object. I have got the keyboard short cut assigned, Ctrl+, or Command+, on the Mac and you can do that as well by going to the Keyboard Shortcuts command under the Edit menu, locating the Palette menus and then locating in that long list of Palette menus, you have to find the Layers palette, and then you will find Convert to Smart Object and give it a keyboard shortcut.
I am going to go ahead and choose this command in order to convert the background into a independent floating layer. That is now a Smart Object and you can tell the Smart Object through the link icon in the bottom of the thumbnail, that shows you that the image is basically embedded inside of itself which is kind of strange concept but that's what going on. What that means is- lets go ahead and name this guy, lets call it Bison. And what that means is you do not have direct access to the pixels anymore, so if you go to your editing and painting tools right here, like you want to heal the image, for example, you want to get the Healing Brush and start working on it, you cannot.
You will get a little ghostbusters icon, because you do not have direct access to the pixels. If you want to get direct access to the pixels, you have to double click on the thumbnail, like so. I'll go and double click, you will get this warning that will tell you, "hey, here is how to work with the Smart Object". But I am going to show you that, so you can ignore it and actually you can safely go ahead and click on Do not show again so you are not bothered by this dialog box over and over again. Then click OK and then you will be inside of the original version of the image. Notice it has a background layer, once again, so its a flat file that, as I am telling you, is embedded in the larger composition now.
You can see right here that I can use the Healing Brush on it if I want to. So I am just increasing my brush size so we can see what I am talking about. There it is, I could paint all I want to. Once I get done, I would just go ahead and close the image. So you can close the image, any way you want to, and go up to the File menu and chose the Close command. If I had any changes, Photoshop would ask me if I would like to save those changes, by which if I were to click the Save button, I would be saving the image to memory. I would be saving this version of the image into the larger composition. I would not be saving it to the disk.
But I did not make any changes, so I am just going to go ahead and chose Close and it is not going to give me warning, it is just going to return me to what I am calling the larger composition. Now at this point, lets say I want to save whatever I have done so far. I would press Ctrl+S or Command+S on the Mac and Photoshop is going to say, "Hey buddy boy," Photoshop likes to call me buddy boy. "By the way, you cannot save. This is now a layer composition with a Smart Object in it, smart guy.' 'You cannot save it to the JPEG format, you have got to save it to the PSD format." So I am going to go ahead and call this one Shaggy Smart Object.
I will save it along for you so that you can open up in the next exercise if you want to, and then I will click on the Save button. I make sure that the Layers check box is on and these guys are turned on as well. As a copy should be turned off and then you click on the Save button in order to save your layer composition. I am going to turn off Maximize compatibility, because I am only using this image inside of Photoshop, otherwise it is going grow unnecessarily. And then I would click OK in order to save that Smart Object version of the bovine creature right here, of the bison. Alright, that's it.
We have now made a Smart Object. That is a first step to gaining access to the non-destructive Smart Filters, which is what we will begin to apply in the next exercise.
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