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I'm going to show you a different sharpening technique. This time we are going to sharpen without using a sharpening plug-in. As discussed previously, it's not actually possible to sharpen an image. When we sharpen, we are creating an optical illusion really. We're going in and performing lots of tiny contrast adjustments on every edge in the image. As the edges become more contrasty, they appear sharper. So anyway that we can find to increase localized contrast in an image, meaning separate contrast adjustments for localized areas in an image, any time we can do that, we're going to create an image that's sharper looking, and there are a lot of different ways of doing that.
As before, I'm going to start by duplicating my Background layer. In other words I am going to be creating a separate sharpening layer so that I can always delete it later if I need to. As before, I am also going to zoom in to 100%. This is an effect where you really need to be looking at your image at full-size to be able to judge your settings properly. Filter > Other > High Pass. Now when I pull this up, my image is going to get weird looking, it goes gray, it's got this weird kind of embossed look to it, and it's got these weird color artifacts. Photoshop's default settings for the High Pass Filter are 10, normally they will come in at your last used settings.
This is a fresh copy of Photoshop so I have got the default ones here. First thing I am going to do is slide all the way to zero, and that brings my image out to complete gray. What I want to do now is slide to the right until I just start to see details appearing, and I can see some eyes there, I can go farther and start to see more detail, but now I am seeing skin texture, and I don't want any skin texture sharpened. So I am going to back off to about there. There is no recipe here, your image might be completely different.
I am just really basing it on can I see the details that I want sharpened. The reason I am showing you this technique is High Pass sharpening is a great way of getting a nice gentle effective sharpening without risking over-sharpening built into it as this kind of a localized thing. I'm not really going to be sharpening skin tone, which, as we have seen in previous movies, is a good thing. So I am going to say OK now. And there is a step that you may need to perform, we don't really need to in this image, but I'll do it anyway. Remember those color artifacts you saw when we first brought up the High Pass Filter.
Some of those may still be in here, they are really hard to see, but we can easily remove them by going to Image > Adjustments and then down to Desaturate, or we can hit Command+Shift+U. So that will just pull out any of that color stuff which will keep our process a little cleaner. And now over here in the layers palette, I go to my Blending mode menu, it's this one that says Normal. Normally when I have got two layers sitting on top of each other and Blending mode is set to normal, pixels on top simply replace pixels below.
Remember that every pixel is simply represented by a numeric value, so by changing the Blending mode, Photoshop basically does mathematical operations between those pixel values to come up with new values. Fortunately rather than give the mathematical descriptions, they give them these names that may or may not make any sense. For this, we want to switch to Overlay, and when I do that, I get this, my image goes back to normal. Now right away I can't really tell that there's been any sharpening because I don't remember what it looked like before. So I am going to hide my High Pass layer.
So here's before, watch this area and here it's very, very subtle, and after, her eyes have just picked up a little bit of sharpening. You may or may not be able to see down in your smaller view that you're getting in this video. What I want to do though is look at some of these details down in here, areas that I don't want to have sharpened. So I am going to watch those, while I turn sharpening off and on, and I see no change at all. So this has done a really good job of localizing itself to just her eyes. This is a technique you should play with. You should practice with it some, you should see what you think about it and decide for yourself whether it's a technique you want to start using regularly.
Again, what I like about it is it's got built-in localization. This really went into just her eyes because I kind of defined a mask when I was setting my High Pass controls, and it's very rare that you can get to the point of seeing full on sharpening halos when you're using a High Pass sharpening technique. Finally, I do keep it as a discrete sharpening layer, so I can always throw this out and redo it later if I print it, and decide I don't like the sharpened settings. So fiddle around some with this High Pass sharpening, it's a very good sharpening technique to have in your post production toolbox.
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