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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, I want to connect the dots or put the pieces together, so to speak. Here, I want to look an essential overview workflow of how we can sharpen and improve a photograph, beginning with working with one of our RAW tools in order to apply input sharpening, and then we'll bring the image over to Photoshop in order to finish it off. Here we'll be working with this photograph here, it's titled Kara.CR2. This is a raw file. It's an original file there haven't been any adjustments made to it yet.
Now we can work in this first step with Lightroom or Adobe Camera Raw. In order to keep things simple, I'll use Bridge and Camera Raw. So here I'll select the photograph and then navigate to the file pulldown menu and choose Open in Camera Raw. Again, File > Open in Camera Raw, or if you use Lightroom, import this image into Lightroom and you can perform the similar steps there. All right, well, often we'll begin here in the Basic panel. Yet, with this photograph there isn't a lot of work that needs to be done.
I think the exposure, the contrast, the detail, for the most part I think it looks pretty good. Yet just for the sake of argument, let's make a few adjustments. Here we might brighten up the exposure a little bit and add a touch of contrast. Maybe we'll darken some of those highlights, and then make a few other adjustments as well. We'll increase the clarity just a little bit there. And I'm going to decrease the saturation. All right, well after we've done our work here in the Basic panel, the next step is the Details panel.
We can access those by clicking on the Details tab. Here I'll work with our Sharpening and our Noise Reduction controls. Yet we have a warning indicator, or reminder down here, that says, hey, remember you have to zoom into 100%. Let's do that. We'll click on the pulldown menu here, and I'm going to choose 100%. Then press the space bar key and click and drag, to pan back up to the area of the face, because that's a really important part of this photograph.
And then let's analyze or evaluate what we have. I see a bit of luminance noise here in my shadow area, and in the skin tone. Let's target that first. We'll go to our Noise Reduction controls and bring up the Luminance Noise Reduction amount. Drop those details down. You don't need to bring out more detail, we want less. And we need to bring up Luminance Contrast, as well. All right, Color noise looks pretty good in this image. Then what about Sharpening? The image is a little bit soft, so we're going to need to boost this up.
Keep in mind what we're doing here is foundational input sharpening. We're not going to go overboard. Rather, we're just trying to shift, or to bring the image to a better place. We'll start off by bringing up the amount. As I do that, I see that some of the little details are getting exaggerated, so I'm going to drop my detail slider back down. I want to protect those, especially in pictures of people. We'll bring the sharpening amount up, and we'll also increase the masking value here, which will make sure that we aren't applying the sharpening to the bigger smoother areas of the picture, like the background or some of the areas of the skin.
You can hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt on Windows, and drag that slider to view the mask. This gives us this black and white perspective where the white contents will have a little bit of sharpening applied. The black areas won't be affected. Again this isn't rocket science here, it isn't that significant. Yet it's really important. And what I mean by isn't that significant, the before and after isn't going to be hugely different. Here's the before. That's okay. Then here's the after. The image looks a little bit cleaner. We're just cleaning up.
We're setting the foundation, we're setting the stage. All right, well, after we've done our work in Lightroom or Camera Raw, next we need to go to Photoshop. In Camera Raw to do that, simply click on the Open Image button and that will then send this file over to Photoshop with all of those Camera Raw settings applied. In Lightroom you can choose Edit in Photoshop and that will open up your photograph in the same way. All right, well now that we're here, what we need to do is we need to think about the final destination for this image. What is the final output size? Well the client in this case is going to reproduce or print this image at a size which is approximately five by seven.
So let's re-size the image before we apply any sharpening. To do that, we'll navigate to the Image pulldown menu. Next we chose Image Size, that's Image and Image Size. This will open up the Image Size dialog. Again, we want to evaluate the photograph and take a look at the detail we have here at 100%, and then go to our controls. Over here, with the controls, I can change this between pixels and inches.
I'm going to go for inches, because I know the client wants approximately five by seven. This gives us five by seven and a half, that will be perfect. After we've dialed those settings in, the actual dimensions and the resolution, we'll use the re-sample method of automatic, because that typically works best in almost all situations. Here, click OK to apply those re-size settings. Now we need to zoom into the image and evaluate. Double-click the Zoom tool, that will take the photograph to 100%.
And let's take a look at what we have. When I look at the image now, I like the detail that I'm seeing. It looks sharp, but it does look like it needs a little boost. And one of the things that the client has told me is that they really want to bring out some of the texture here in the dress. So let's perform some advanced sharpening, using Smart Sharpen, in order to improve this photograph. And let's do that in the next movie. Leave this image open and then we'll work on the second step, the Smart Sharpen step, in the next movie.
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