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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 gang I am still working inside of the image Field of greens.PSD that I opened in the previous exercise. The only modification I have made so far is to draw a gradient inside of this Smart Filter mask right there. I drew a black to transparent gradient and then I faded it to 65% in order to protect the antialiasing at the top of this hill, so that the cabbages aren't getting quite so jagged. In this exercise we're going to take a look at how to defeat the noise up here in the sky.
Now the noise is very difficult to see inside the video but it is there. Trust me, it's there. Normally what we do, if you recall from a few chapters back, if we're going to be reducing noise and smoothing out the image, we need to smooth before we sharpen. So that means that we need to apply the Reduce Noise filter. That's the filter we'll be using inside of this crop rows Smart Object, because after all we can't have Reduce Noise being effected by an edge mask. It has to be effected by a non-edge mask, exactly the opposite of the mask that we have going right there.
So that means we need a Smart Object inside of a Smart Object. So what we would normally do is double-click on this Smart Object to enter it, but if we do that here we bring up Camera RAW, because this is Camera RAW Smart Object. So in other words, we can't get to that Background layer that we need in order to create another Smart Object and apply Reduce Noise to it. Now you might say, OK, well then here we are inside of Camera RAW, Camera RAW has a noise reduction function after all. I'll go ahead zoom in on the sky here, so that we can see it a little more closely.
Again, I doubt you're going to be able to make out the noise very well, but there is noise inside of that sky. You see can see that I've up'ed the Vibrance value here inside the Basic panel and that's it. I am then going to go over to the Detail panel where I have done a little bit of work. I went ahead and applied the standard Sharpening settings that are required to compensate for the demosaicing process. I have also applied a fairly standard Color noise reduction value of 25, and I have up'ed the Luminance noise reduction value to 15. Now what we're seeing there inside the sky, if you're working along with me, you'll be able to make out some luminance noise.
That's the kind of noise that we have here that we're trying to get rid of. And so you might think, lets just increase the luminance value. Here is the problem. If we increase that value, we're going to end up smearing the good details inside of the image, because while we can mask the sharpening effect using this masking value right there in order to create an edge mask, we can not create an on the fly non-edge mask inside of Camera RAW. It's more flexible to get rid of noise inside of Photoshop crop rows; that's what I am try to say. So lets go and cancel out of Camera RAW. So what in the world do we do? I can't get in there to do my work.
Basically you have to bear in mind, in Photoshop's defense, Smart Objects and Smart Filters are fairly new features. Smart Objects came about in CS2 and Smart Filters came about in CS3. There are a lot of limitations that they throw in your path right now. I hope by like CS5 or CS6 that a lot of this stuff is worked out. Maybe even CS4. That'd be great. But in the meantime, I will show you this wonky workaround. That is a best workaround I've found anyway. So here's what we are going to do. Select that crop rows layer right there, and then press Ctrl+Alt+J or Command+Option+J in the Mac, to jump it to a new layer or just basically cloning a layer, and I am going to call is XXX because its just placeholder.
And XXX tells me that I'll ultimately delete this layer; it's just a temporary layer that I need for now. I click OK. And what it really is is a placeholder to keep track of the sharpening effect, so that I don't lose it. I am going to go ahead and turn that layer off. I am going to down to crop rows, and I am going throw its Smart Filter effect. Notice that I am dragging the Smart Filters down to the trash can right there, and under Windows Vista, you get this little preview of the filter. So the filter icon on the Mac, you don't that. I am just going to go ahead and drag it down, but it will, if you drag it off into the trash can, it will get rid of the effect, because I need to go ahead and apply Reduce Noise to this guy.
So now lets go over to Channels tab and load ourselves a channel as a selection, because we need to create a non-edge mask. So we need a base mask to work from. SoI am going to go ahead and Ctrl-click or Command-click on the green channel in order to load it as a selection outline, then I'll return to Layers palette, let's go up to the Filter menu, choose Noise and choose Reduce Noise. I've already applied these settings right here in advance, so they're still up, which is a Strength value of 8, Preserve Details of 45. Incidentally: you might see this weird sharpening effect that's being applied by Reduce Noise, because I think the values that you've got are 3 for Strength, 0 for Preserve Details and Reduce Noise, and then like 100 for Sharpen Details. That's your culprit, as you have Sharpen Details set so high, and it ends up giving you kind of a more accurate style sharpening effect or like something you might get inside Camera RAW.
Anyway, what we want are these values here, 8 for Strength, 45 for Preserve Details, and 0 for the other two. Remove JPEG Artifact should be turned off, and then go ahead and click OK in order to create that Reduce Noise Smart Filter. Now lets go ahead and convert this mask into a non-edge mask, and we're going to that by Alt-clicking on the mask, or Option-clicking on the mask thumbnail on the Mac, in order to see the mask here inside of the image window. I am going to go up to the Filter menu and I am going to choose Noise and I am going to choose Median.
You may recall if you were with me a few chapters back when I showed you how to create non-edge mask in the first place, you may recall that we went with a pretty high Radius value of 10 pixels, but that's because we were working with a portrait shot. This is a high frequency image obviously, so we need to keep our Median value very low so we don't end up ruining all the good details inside of here. So I am going to set it to 2 pixels and click OK. Then I go up to the Filter menu choose Stylize and choose Find Edges, and that goes ahead and protexts the edges with black and leaves the non-edges white. Except we do have some texture going on inside of the sky there that we need to eliminate.
I want the sky to be nice and smooth so press Ctrl+L or Command+L on the Mac to bring up the Levels dialog box. I am going to click in this third value right there, the White Point value, and I am going press Shift+Down arrow three times in order to reduce that value from 255 to 225. Notice our sky is nice and white now. I'll click OK to accept that change and then finally we need to blur the edges a little bit. I am going to go to the Filter menu choose Blur and choose Gaussian Blur, and we're going to match the Radius value that we applied with the Median filter, which is 2 pixels.
So I'll go ahead and click OK, and we're done. that's the edge mask. That's all there is to it. Go ahead and Alt-click or Option-click on that filter mask again in order again in order restore the RGB image. Now at this point you might say, how in the world does this work at all for us? We've certainly gotten rid of the noise inside of the sky. It's hard to make out inside the video, so I am not even going to bother to show, but you may see the difference on your screen if you're working along with me, and you will see the difference shortly. But we've lost that sharpening effect, which was after all kind of more important to what were trying to accomplish here.
How do we reinstate the sharpening effect on this Smart Object right there? Well, I'll show you when we create a third level of Smart Object, a Smart Object inside of a Smart Object inside of a Smart Object in the next exercise.
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