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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.
Alright, just to recap, we have taken this image from photographer, Quavondo Nguyen of iStockphoto.com, and we have sharpened it inside of Camera RAW, and then we have applied a second pass of sharpening inside of Photoshop. Now the image looks pretty darn good. It looks a little over sharpened on screen, but if we were to flatten the image and downsample it using the Image Size command, our edits would hold up quite nicely. Thing is, we have attacked the same detail twice. So when we sharpen the image with a source in mind inside of Camera RAW, we took into account that this was a low frequency portrait image, and then when we sharpened for detail here inside Photoshop, we took into account that this was a low frequency image as well.
I don't really recommend you work that way. Again, its not a bad way to work, but it's not the ideal approach. The ideal approach is if, and just bear with me here, but if you are going to apply second pass of sharpening for detail here inside of Photoshop, then you want to make sure that your first pass of sharpening inside of Camera RAW is strictly sharpening for the digital photography process; you are not taking into account whether its high frequency, low frequency, or any frequency. So thanks to the fact that we have kept our modifications 100% nondestructive, we can go back and change the sharpening that we applied inside Camera RAW.
Now if you want to catch up with me, I have got a document here called High Pass portrait.PSD, its found inside of the O6_for_detail folder. You can see that we have got a Smart Object, that's a Camera RAW object, that has a Smart Filter applied to it, subject to an edge mask. I am going to go ahead now and double click on the Smart Object thumbnail in order to return to Camera RAW. I will go and drag around her eyes in order to zoom in on her face there. I will go ahead and actually step back to the 100% zoom ratio, so that I can see the results of my sharpening here.
Then I am going to switch over to the Detail panel, and I am going to reduce the Radius value; this is the key thing you need to do, is reduce the Radius value to something in the neighborhood of 0.5, 0.6, 0.7, so some low value. I am going to go with 0.6. I am also going to take the Detail down as low as it will go, so we are avoiding any potential for over sharpening inside of this image, since we do have that second pass of High Pass sharpening eagerly awaiting.
I am going to go ahead and take the Masking value down too. I am going to Alt drag or Option drag this slider triangle, and of course, you don't have to Alt or Option-drag, I am just doing that so I can see the mask on the fly here. I am going to take the Masking value down to 30; not a pretty mask as you can see, but its a very functional mask for our purposes here. So I am going to take that down to 30. Then I am going to increase the Amount value to a 100%. Now that's pretty high, but I want to make sure that we can see the results of our sharpening.
If you were really applying this, and all you were trying do is correct for the digital photography process, you would probably want an Amount value around 50%, but I am going to double it just so that we can see the effects of our sharpening very easily once we go back into Photoshop. So just to give you a sense, this is how sharp the image used to be sharpened with the fact that its a low frequency image in mind, and this is how sharp the image is Now so crisper sharpening, less sharpening, going on as well. Lets go ahead and zoom in a click here, so that we can see her eye and a little bit of her hair as well, so this is before lots of diffuse sharpening going on here, meaning that we have a high Radius value at this point.
This is after less sharpening, tighter sharpening, as well, so we are sharpening in on the finer details inside the image. Then I will go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification, and Photoshop will go ahead and reapply all of the sharpening, sequentially; so it recalculated the Camera RAW sharpening and then it reapplied the High Pass sharpening on top of it. Lets go ahead and zoom in actually a click so we can see those same details that we saw before. This is before and this is after, so its a subtle difference that we are seeing, but its a very meaningful difference.
Now we have two passes of sharpening that are taking different things into account. With the first pass we are exclusI'vely taking the source into account, the digital photography process into account, and with the second pass of sharpening, we are exclusively taking the low frequency detail into account. This is what I consider to be a very successful and very flexible. By the way, I will go ahead and zoom out here to 50%, a very successful and very flexible two pass sharpening effect here inside Photoshop.
Just to give you a sense, this is what the image looks like without the High Pass layer, and this is what the image looks like with the High Pass layer, so a subtle effect of 50%, but again, an effect that's going to serve us well when we finally go to print with this image. Now when we go to print, I should warn you, there will be one more pass of sharpening I would apply, and that's sharpening for Output, as we will see in a couple of chapters, but so far so good, and everything is flexible as can be. In the next exercise, I will show you how to approach a high frequency image, where sharpening for detail is concerned inside Photoshop.
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