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Photoshop CS4 for Photographers is an essential course for any digital photographer who wants to master the software's vast array of image enhancement techniques. Professional photographer and instructor Chris Orwig uses his own compelling images to demonstrate how the power of Photoshop can make photographers more passionate about their work. He covers many aspects of the application, such as working with RAW images, using curves and levels, making images snap, and enhancing bland photographs by converting them to black and white. Exercise files accompany this course.
Select the file annika_kel.tif and double-click it to open it in Photoshop. I have to go to Full Screen View mode, and here we have this wonderful portrait of my wife Kelly and my daughter Annika right after one of Annika's ballet recitals. It was so cute. All right. Well, I want to print this image. So I'm going to go ahead and clean it up, and we can see I have my Cleanup Layer; here is my before and after, just real simple cleanup work, we will Zoom in a little bit so you can see that. Again, just fixing up some of the small details, nothing really big here, we are just going to print this as a 4"x6". The next thing I need to do is reduce a little bit of noise. So let's press Command+J on a Mac/Ctrl+J on a PC, and name this layer noise - skin.
Now, this image doesn't have a lot of noise in it, it was captured with a high end lens, good light, good camera, all that stuff, yet I do want to apply a little bit of noise reduction because it will help this image out. So in that New Layer, we will navigate to Filter > Noise and then Reduce Noise. Now, with this noise reduction, I'm going to go ahead and reduce all these amounts all the way down. My Strength is going to be really low; again, because I don't have a lot of noise, look at my before and after. But one of the things that I do notice is that when I reduce just a touch of noise, it's going to help smooth out the skin just a bit, and especially in these areas in the shadows as well. Little bit of Color Noise out as well.
I'll zoom in on the image so we can see how we are doing. Look at our before and after there, and we will Zoom way in, so you can see what I'm talking about. There is before, there is after. It's smoothing out some of the transitions. Sharpen the details. I don't really need to add any sharpness and here is why. I'll go ahead and click OK to apply that. I'm going to click on the Add Layer Mask icon, grab my brush, and I'm going to paint with black over the areas that I don't want to reduce noise, i.e. the areas that I really want to be sharp. So the eyes, the mouth, the hair, the ridge of the nose a little bit I want nice and sharp. And zoom out a little bit and see if there is anything else. These flowers I would like to have really nice and sharp, because that noise reduction will reduce a little bit of the sharpness there. So again, just some simple painting to limit that noise reduction to a few areas.
Let's zoom in on the image so again we can see how we are doing. Here's our before. I think I have to go in further so you can see that right there. Here is our before and now there is our after. Just nice smoothing, it even outs the skin tones and the face a little bit. We want to make sure we are not blurring out or softening the eyes. Okay, those still look really nice. Let's Zoom back to 100%; double-click the Zoom tool. All right, our next step is going to be to sharpen this image. Now, we talked quite a bit about sharpening in another chapter, so I'll talk about it briefly here. What I'm doing here is copying my layers every time, or I'll merge to the top at times, so you can begin to see a workflow that you can take when you are just getting ready to print.
In the topmost layer I'll press Shift+Option+Command+E on a Mac, Shift+Alt+Ctrl+E on a PC, and I'll name this new layer sharp. Next step here is going to be to navigate to my Filter dropdown menu; I'm going to choose Sharpen, and then Smart Sharpen. Now, in this case I'm going to reposition the image so I can see important aspects of the image. Then if I move it over, I get a little bit of Kelly's face and I get a lot of Annika's face. Here I'm going to take my Amount and my Radius all the way off. I'm going to bring my Amount up so that it's pretty high; somewhere in the high 100s, and then slowly bring up the Radius until I begin to see the haloing effect. So I'm just looking to find that halo. I'm removing Lens Blur.
So at about this point I start to see some pretty heavy haloing around the eyes and what not. At this juncture, I'll lower my percent down just to about 100, and then I'm going to drop my Radius down. Again, I was just trying to find kind of the upper confines of the retouching there. Click on the image to look at my before and after. What I'm looking for is noticing if the image is sharp; the face looks really good. Let's take a look at Kelly's. I also want to make sure I don't have any exaggerated halos. Now, for the most part I think this is looking really nice. I'm just going to drop my Radius a little bit lower. Keep in mind that I'm sharpening for a 4"x6" print so my numbers are pretty low here. Now, if I were sharpening for a higher resolution file my numbers would be a little bit higher.
So I'll go ahead and click OK to apply that. Then zoom in on the image so you can see that I haven't yet sharpened it. There is my before and after. Now, it's not that noticeable when I Zoom out, but I thought it would be helpful to Zoom in so you can really see what's happening there. Double-click the Zoom tool to Zoom out and we will look at our before and after. Now, in regards to sharpening, I think for the most part it's good. There are few areas I need to touch up. So I'll click on the Mask icon, grab my Brush tool. Now, I want to mask off the teeth. These teeth, they don't need to be much sharper. Then I also want to work on the whites of the eyes here; that little edge around the eye, I want make sure that isn't over sharpened. All right, same thing over here. I'm just looking to try to prevent that haloing. I'm masking away my sharpening to specific areas.
Now, I'll zoom out. I'm going to click on my Mask, grab my Brush tool; I want a real big brush so I'll press the Right Bracket key. I'm just looking to mask off this background. I don't need to be too careful with this, I'm just going to get close to the subjects here and you can see my mask being built up over there. Then I'll make my brush smaller by pressing the Left Bracket key. I could also make a selection and then really mask off that selection, although I'm not too concerned with that, simply because this particular image I'm not sharpening that much, its a 4"x6", I don't really need to go over the top here, I want to keep things pretty simple.
Now, if this was a print that was going to become poster size, well, hey, I would need to spend much more time doing all this little detail work, but for this image I think that will work well. What I'm going to do here is simply zoom in on the background so we can see that background there. All right, now here is my before and after, and I'm just masking off the sharpening; that's really hard to see I think. It would be really hard to see on your end. Let's see if we can get a view of that here. Yeah, I think we will get a little view right there. Here is our before and then after. Basically, just limiting the sharpening to that area. All right, double-click the Zoom tool, go back to 100%. Let's look at our overall before and after. Here is our before, here is our after. Some pretty simple subtle yet significant improvements on this image.
Now we are almost ready to print, yet the next thing we need to work on is the image color, and we will do that in the next movie.
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