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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 at this point you maybe wondering, OK, this is great. All these different ways to reduce noise, address fall sharpening, and so on, but what about that original guy, that Dangerous gentleman.dng image that we saw a few exercises back? How do we get rid of the noise that was showing up in the dark shadow details inside the image? Well, it actually turns out to require yet a different approach. In order to catch up with this image, lets go ahead and scroll over here, inside the 05_for_source folder.
You will see that there is this image called Sharp on sharp.dng, meaning that we have sharp focus combined with a sharp fellow. I am going to go ahead and press Ctrl+R, Command+R in the Mac, in order to open this image. This is the sharpened version of the image, so this is the after version. If you go over here to the Sharpening controls, you can see that I have applied an Amount value of 80, that was on the high side, that was for demonstrational purpose. I really recommend something more in the 50 range. Then my other recommended values, Radius of 1.5, the Detail value of 20, and a Masking value of 70%.
So again, because this a low frequency portrait shot, we are going low, high, low, high with these values. I am going to go ahead and zoom in to the 100% zoom ratio so that we can see the results of our modifications. You can see that we do indeed have these very sharp details going on inside the fellows face, and we are bringing out that thread that's hanging from his chin and so on. The problem is that we would have to presumably either clone that away inside of Photoshop or we could perhaps spot retouch the image using the Retouch tool here inside of Camera RAW.
But the larger problem is this noise that's showing up inside the shadow detail. Now the shadows are where you are most likely to bring out noise inside of a digital photograph, the reason being that when you are working with a linear image, there is less luminance data inside the shadows than there is inside the highlights. There is just tons of luminance information dedicated to highlights, and very little dedicated to the shadows, just a fraction as it turns out. When you start brightening the shadow region, then you bring out a ton of noise as a result.
Well, what I would suggest we do in the case of this particular photograph- and notice by the way, if we go the background, you can see that what should be a nice black background is showing up as noisy as well. We will go ahead and zoom out here. If you look closely you can see the fabric, the black fabric, in the background, which really ought to be entirely black. We can get rid of the noise by making it entirely black. So once again, I am going to have to zoom into 100%, because I cant see the results of my modifications if I am not looking at the 100% view size, and so we wouldnt see the noise accurately.
Now lets switch over to the Basic panel, by clicking on the Basic tab here, or you can press Ctrl+Alt+1 or Command+Option+1 since it's the first panel. I am going to go ahead and increase the Blacks value. Now you don't have to increase it very high. If I just press the up arrow key I will take it up to 1, at which point I am saying anything that has a luminance level of 1 or darker, becomes black. I will keep raising that value until my noise goes away, which happens at about 5, that noise goes entirely away and my background becomes completely black.
So those folds in the fabric go away, and it looks like we just have a void of black space in the background, which is exactly what we want in the case of this image of course. Now I am going to scroll over to the tie, it still has a bunch of color noise going on inside of it. So naturally we are going to switch over to the Detail options here, and then we are going to raise that color value to something in the neighborhood of 30, lets say. By doing that, I go ahead and elominate the color noise inside of the tie, and also inside of the jacket, as you can see here.
So this is the before view of the jacket, if I turn the Preview checkbox off, lots of color noise going on. This is the after view, which is nice and homogenous, so we have a uniform color going on to this fellows jacket, which is in the way it should be of course. Finally, I am going to go ahead and zoom out to take in the entire image. By virtue of the fact that I raised the black value, I have darkened the image all over the place. I have darkened all portions of the image, not only the shadows, but the mid tones as well. So lets go back to the Basic panel here, and I am going to have to change a few other values to accommodate.
First of all, I am going to have to brighten the image. I am going to do that by selecting the Brightness value and pressing Shift+Up arrow in order to raise it from 35 to 45, and that goes ahead and restores some of the brightness. Now I don't need as much color saturation, because I have raised the black value, because I have darkened the shadows, I have also intensified the colors inside the image, so these high vibrance and saturation values are no longer warranted. I am going to go ahead and select the Vibrance value by clicking on the word Vibrance there, and I am going to press Shift+ Down arrow three times to reduce that Vibrance value to 20.
Then I am going to tab to saturation, and I am going to press Shift+Down arrow once to reduce that value to 5. So now we have a very nice image, much better than it was before, I think. This is the before version of the colors, and this is the after version of the colors, I think we have a much more striking dynamic image, not to mention we have a lot less noise inside this image as well.
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