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Sharpening an archival photograph

From: Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques

Video: Sharpening an archival photograph

I am devoting the remaining exercises inside of this chapter to the final kind of specialty mask that I want to share with you and this is possibly the most useful specialty mask of them all. I have to say I am partial to all of the specialty mask that I have shown you. I love Luminance masks and Corrective masks and Color masks and Density mask and Depth mask, they are all great. But as I say, this might be the best of them all. It's the Edge mask and it's great for sharpening any kind of photograph, but it's especially great for sharpening archival photographs by which I mean photographs from the pre-digital age especially those that are 50 years or older. This is a great case in point. What we have got here is a 90-year-old print that I went ahead and scanned in, my estimate it was 90-years-old and this actually comes from my own image library.

Sharpening an archival photograph

I am devoting the remaining exercises inside of this chapter to the final kind of specialty mask that I want to share with you and this is possibly the most useful specialty mask of them all. I have to say I am partial to all of the specialty mask that I have shown you. I love Luminance masks and Corrective masks and Color masks and Density mask and Depth mask, they are all great. But as I say, this might be the best of them all. It's the Edge mask and it's great for sharpening any kind of photograph, but it's especially great for sharpening archival photographs by which I mean photographs from the pre-digital age especially those that are 50 years or older. This is a great case in point. What we have got here is a 90-year-old print that I went ahead and scanned in, my estimate it was 90-years-old and this actually comes from my own image library.

This woman right here is my maternal grandmother in case you are interested. Of course we are not interested in that, what we are really interested is engaging the quality of this photograph and if we zoom in here, we can see that in addition to the good detail by which I mean the detail that's actually representative of the original subjects of the photograph, we also have a lot of bad detail in the form of noise and dust and various particles, film grain and the general effects of weathering and age.

Now I have to say given that this image is about 90-year-old, it's holding up pretty nicely, you look around this photograph if you were to inspect it, you are not going to find any rips, you are not going to find any tears, you are not going to find any sort of surface scaring, we just have general uniform weathering and this is something that Photoshop is setup to compensate for automatically. It's just that Photoshop's automatic compensation is no good. Let me show you what I am talking about here, let's say what we want to do is we want to sharpen the detail in the photograph, so we want to make this image really pop, when we go ahead and print it out in a publication what have you.

Then what Photoshop suggest you do, what Adobe suggest you do is apply the Unsharp Mask command which is an oldie but goody sharpening function inside of Photoshop. It's been with us since Photoshop 1.0 and Unsharp Mask provides an automated method for ruling out film grain and other sort of surface artifacts. So I am going to go up to the Filter menu and I am going to choose the Sharpen command and then I am going to choose Unsharp Mask. Of course if I loaded my Deke keys as I did, I could go ahead and press Shift+F5 if I wanted to. Once I arrive at the Unsharp Mask dialog box, I am going to go ahead and enter a few settings here, I will go ahead and take the Amount value up to 200% and then I will take the Radius value up to 3 pixels let's say in order to create some nice firm 3 pixel edges.

You can see one of the effects of applying a 3 pixel edge is that we give this kid here; we give him kind of a milk mustache because we are lightening the light side of the edges and we are darkening the dark side of the edges. So above the lip he gets a milk mustache below the lip he gets a darker lip essentially. Now the problem is in addition to firming up these good edges inside of the photograph, we also exaggerate the bad edges. So we have got this sort of infection going on inside of all these people's faces and that's obviously a bad thing which is why there is this Threshold value right here that's available to us and the idea behind the threshold value and before I go any further here, I just want you to note these values. Notice that the Amount value is set to 200%, the Radius value is set to 3 pixels. I will come back to why this is important, just sort of vaguely important in a moment.

Now the Threshold option here is designed to rule out bad edges and so let's say I go ahead and take this value up to 25 levels and notice that I am doing this by scrubbing on the word Threshold. It's another way to change values inside of Photoshop to scrub directly on the option name. So I will go ahead and take this value up to 25 levels and notice that a lot of these edges are going away, a lot of these bad edges are disappearing here and the idea is that where two neighboring pixels are 25 or more luminance levels different from each other, bear in mind we are working from 0 being black and 255 being white, so if 2 neighboring pixels are 25 luminance levels are more different from each other then they are considered to be an edge and they get sharpened. If they are 24 or less luminance levels different from each other, they are not sharpened, they are just skipped over here.

The good news is that we sharpen fewer edges inside the image, the bad news is it's an on off proposition. So either two neighboring pixels get sharpened or they don't get sharpened and therefore those edges that do get sharpen stand out that much more predominantly. So I will go ahead and take now in order to compensate, I will take the Amount value up to 350% we still have the nice, white milk mustache going here which is good, because we want to highlight that edge and we still have the very dark inner side of the upper lip that is to say. But we also have all these very fierce now sort of non-edges that are showing up inside of this kid's face for example and if I zoom out a little bit so that we can take in more of that photograph, you can see that it looks like some sort of horrible post industrial age acne.

Everybody has just got these horrible pockmarks all over their face including this poor child right there, she needs to be obviously rushed to some sort of emergency room as soon as possible and these people lived in like the Middle of Nowhere Arkansas. So I think it would have taken a while for this poor child to get some sort of remedy. Luckily, it's all Photoshop's fault. She is really not infected here and we can take care of this problem using an Edge mask. So I just want to give you a sense of why an Edge mask is so very, very useful. Again, note our values, we have got an amount of 350% this time, Radius 3 pixels, just as before and Threshold of 25 levels.

All right, I am going to go ahead and Cancel out of the Unsharp Mask dialog box and I am going to bring up the Layers palette for just a moment so that you can see that I have actually created two additional layers that are different versions of this image. So I went ahead and jumped the Background layer and then applied different Unsharp Mask USM settings to each. So this is USM 20030 just like we saw in the first portion of this exercise and then on top we have USM 35325 just as we saw a moment ago. And by this I mean USM Unsharp Mask 350%, 3 Radius and 25 Threshold.

I have these layers set here so that we can compare and contrast and what I mean by that is we are going to go ahead and create an Edge mask starting in the next exercise, we will create an edge mask and we will use that edge mask in order to sharpen the image and then we will compare that good sharpening to the bad sharpening that we are able to create automatically using the Unsharp Mask command. So that's it, this is why we so desperately need an edge mask inside of Photoshop. Starting in the next exercise, I will show you how you go about creating one.

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This video is part of

Image for Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques
Photoshop CS3 Channels & Masks: Advanced Techniques

190 video lessons · 26576 viewers

Deke McClelland
Author

 
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  1. 2h 13m
    1. The Odyssey Continues
      2m 39s
    2. Mapping one image onto another
      7m 12s
    3. Making a custom contrast mode
      7m 10s
    4. Luminance blending
      8m 40s
    5. Forcing the visibility of underlying layers
      4m 4s
    6. Adjusting the appearance of clipped layers
      4m 34s
    7. Selecting a Blend If channel
      6m 12s
    8. Enhancing highlights by hiding them
      5m 9s
    9. Smart Object first, layer mask second
      7m 22s
    10. The Fill Opacity Eight
      4m 30s
    11. Blending Smart Filters
      7m 24s
    12. Cleaning up edges
      7m 39s
    13. More fun with luminance blending
      6m 22s
    14. A first peek at the Calculations command
      12m 11s
    15. Masking a softly focused model
      11m 46s
    16. Moving layers and masks between images
      7m 35s
    17. Matching colors
      9m 13s
    18. Building transitional blended layers
      6m 33s
    19. Restoring normal colors
      6m 50s
  2. 2h 33m
    1. Layer masks, clipping masks, and knockouts
      1m 20s
    2. Rotating and stretching
      7m 54s
    3. A jet of motion blur
      9m 18s
    4. Keyboard tricks
      5m 4s
    5. Merging sky and landscape
      6m 3s
    6. Masking an adjustment layer
      6m 37s
    7. Creating two windows into an image
      7m 42s
    8. Whitening teeth and adding other highlights
      3m 46s
    9. Mapping a texture onto an image
      4m 1s
    10. Isolating a texture with a layer mask
      6m 44s
    11. Welcome to the glass composition
      3m 18s
    12. Balancing shadows and highlights
      5m 51s
    13. Masking the glass
      7m 24s
    14. Masking the text
      9m 23s
    15. Adding and blending the goldfish
      8m 45s
    16. Assembling the perfect group photo
      5m 12s
    17. Aligning photographs automatically
      5m 26s
    18. Masking in each person's best shot
      5m 18s
    19. Masking densely packed people
      6m 17s
    20. Crafting the perfect final poster
      5m 16s
    21. From the improbable to the impossible
      1m 56s
    22. The fantastical "world of clones" effect
      10m 0s
    23. Upsampling and blurring a background
      8m 39s
    24. Adding a knockout mask
      8m 3s
    25. Choking edges with Gaussian Blur and Levels
      3m 46s
  3. 2h 27m
    1. The corrective power of masking
      1m 6s
    2. The amazing luminance mask
      7m 22s
    3. Brightening and neutralizing the eyes
      8m 22s
    4. Adjusting a nondestructive composition
      5m 52s
    5. Creating a corrective mask
      6m 4s
    6. Averaging away irregular flesh tones
      3m 52s
    7. Modifying specific colors
      7m 46s
    8. Initiating the color mask
      6m 0s
    9. Refining the color mask
      6m 40s
    10. Adjusting the edges around fabric
      7m 56s
    11. Perfecting hair
      9m 35s
    12. Sharpening with a High Pass layer
      10m 12s
    13. The also-amazing density mask
      4m 48s
    14. Adjusting the knockout depth
      8m 48s
    15. Fashioning a depth map
      6m 12s
    16. Invoking a depth mask from Lens Blur
      6m 38s
    17. The perfect depth-of-field effect
      6m 25s
    18. Sharpening an archival photograph
      7m 7s
    19. Creating an edge mask
      8m 29s
    20. Making a High Pass sandwich
      7m 46s
    21. Applying the edge mask
      6m 2s
    22. Customizing your sharpening effect
      4m 6s
  4. 2h 3m
    1. Channel Mixer, I am your father!
      1m 39s
    2. Three ways to gray
      7m 49s
    3. Meet the Channel Mixer
      8m 26s
    4. Mixing a custom black-and-white image
      7m 10s
    5. Creating a professional-level sepia tone
      5m 36s
    6. Employing the Black & White command
      8m 1s
    7. Extreme channel mixing
      4m 50s
    8. The infrared photography effect
      6m 43s
    9. Taking shadows to the brink of black
      3m 56s
    10. Elevating highlights, leeching saturation
      5m 58s
    11. Deepening a black-and-white sky
      5m 49s
    12. Infusing luminance levels with color
      5m 44s
    13. Creating an opposing colorization scheme
      4m 58s
    14. Bolstering contrast with the Green channel
      5m 37s
    15. A tiny improvement to a terrific technique
      7m 39s
    16. The simple (but wrong) approach to red-eye correction
      6m 39s
    17. Channel-mixing red pupils
      9m 18s
    18. The expert approach to red-eye correction
      5m 20s
    19. Fixing problem coronas (pupil edges)
      8m 9s
    20. Making pupils match
      4m 8s
  5. 2h 33m
    1. Chops are dead; long live maskops
      1m 37s
    2. The Calculations command
      8m 16s
    3. Blue Screen blending
      7m 40s
    4. Refining the Blue Screen mask
      5m 53s
    5. Brushing away color fringing
      7m 24s
    6. Locking the transparency of a layer
      6m 22s
    7. Nondestructive layer painting
      7m 36s
    8. How the Add blend mode works
      8m 40s
    9. How the Subtract blend mode works
      6m 43s
    10. Focus, noise, and other masking challenges
      5m 33s
    11. The Add mode in action
      7m 51s
    12. The Subtract mode in action
      8m 25s
    13. Comparing two channels with Difference
      5m 24s
    14. Enhancing the contrast with Curves
      9m 11s
    15. Gathering details with Apply Image
      9m 43s
    16. Dodge highlights, burn shadows
      6m 6s
    17. Dodge and Burn in action
      8m 24s
    18. Painting in the scalp
      10m 1s
    19. Painting away the face and chin
      4m 53s
    20. Compositing complementary images
      4m 13s
    21. Multiply, Minimum, Blur, and Apply Image
      6m 40s
    22. Crafting the final composition
      7m 7s
  6. 1h 57m
    1. Mark of the Pen tool
      1m 35s
    2. The big paths project overview
      6m 51s
    3. How to make a path
      8m 25s
    4. Corner points and freeform polygons
      8m 6s
    5. Editing paths with the arrow tools
      5m 2s
    6. Adding and deleting endpoints
      5m 15s
    7. Adding and deleting interior points
      6m 6s
    8. Converting a path to a selection
      3m 35s
    9. Converting a path to a mask
      6m 38s
    10. Smooth points and control handles
      8m 57s
    11. Making cusp points
      6m 0s
    12. Combining paths in a vector mask
      7m 55s
    13. Turning a path into a shape layer
      8m 57s
    14. Combining paths to make a layer mask
      7m 52s
    15. Mixing layer and vector masks
      10m 14s
    16. Editing character outlines as paths
      8m 39s
    17. Using the Convert Point tool
      7m 8s
  7. 3h 17m
    1. Where there's a will, there's a way
      1m 18s
    2. Masking natural cast shadows
      4m 10s
    3. Applying the cast show
      4m 2s
    4. Creating a difference mask
      3m 7s
    5. Applying an arbitrary map
      3m 50s
    6. Making the flesh mask
      7m 17s
    7. Roughing in an object mask
      6m 49s
    8. Drawing missing details with the Lasso tool
      4m 7s
    9. Combining flesh and object masks
      3m 53s
    10. Amplifying the cast shadow
      4m 10s
    11. Selectively choking edges
      3m 58s
    12. Power duplication in Photoshop
      7m 9s
    13. Masking blond hair
      5m 48s
    14. Using Levels to mask iterations
      3m 14s
    15. Drawing an iteration boundary
      4m 55s
    16. Merging the best of two Levels iterations
      4m 4s
    17. More fun with Dodge and Burn
      6m 14s
    18. Fixing edges with the Pen and Stamp tools
      7m 29s
    19. Pulling from another file with Apply Image
      4m 52s
    20. Blending clipped layers independently
      5m 43s
    21. Building the flame mask
      9m 22s
    22. Amplifying the flame
      3m 53s
    23. Masking an image against a busy background
      5m 15s
    24. The Freeform and Magnetic Pen tools
      6m 52s
    25. Masking with arbitrary maps
      9m 32s
    26. A more deliberate approach to arb maps
      10m 51s
    27. Combining arb maps with paths
      9m 28s
    28. Masking with the help of the History brush
      11m 38s
    29. Creating a High Pass mask
      7m 25s
    30. Coloring in the outlines
      8m 31s
    31. Mastering Calculations
      7m 29s
    32. Subtracting and merging the beak
      11m 6s
  8. 1h 33m
    1. The meaning of bit depth (and why you care)
      2m 50s
    2. Scanning line art in 8-bit and 16-bit
      5m 9s
    3. Measuring the 16-bit difference
      8m 9s
    4. Correcting 8-bit images in the 16-bit space
      9m 31s
    5. Opening a raw image directly in 16-bit
      6m 13s
    6. Editing in Camera Raw, opening in 16-bit
      8m 22s
    7. 16-Bit/channel vs. 32-bit/channel (HDR)
      8m 18s
    8. Working with auto-bracketed photographs
      5m 6s
    9. Using the Merge to HDR command
      6m 0s
    10. Adjusting the HDR preview
      6m 0s
    11. Building a 32-bit sky mask
      6m 29s
    12. Properly exposing land and sky
      4m 25s
    13. Modifying a layer mask in 32-bit
      4m 56s
    14. Converting to and correcting in 16-bit Lab
      12m 7s
  9. 2h 8m
    1. Photoshop flirts with the third dimension
      1m 13s
    2. The displacement map
      8m 24s
    3. Making custom waves
      7m 14s
    4. Creating a Gaussian distribution
      4m 32s
    5. Using a two-channel displacement map
      6m 28s
    6. Creating a rustic edge effect
      8m 21s
    7. Distorting and shading with a DMap
      6m 34s
    8. Moonlight reflecting off water
      8m 48s
    9. Mapping the reflection onto the water
      7m 7s
    10. Dipping the moon into the water
      6m 18s
    11. Turning flesh into stone
      7m 55s
    12. Wrapping the stone around the face
      7m 27s
    13. Softening a displacement map
      8m 5s
    14. Making a repeating watermark pattern
      9m 22s
    15. 3D embossing with Lighting Effects
      10m 48s
    16. The amazing credit card type effect
      6m 56s
    17. Lightening the credit card letters
      6m 16s
    18. Wrapping the background around the text
      6m 27s
  10. 1m 43s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 43s

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