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Sharpening a black-and-white photo

From: Photoshop Sharpening Power Workshop

Video: Sharpening a black-and-white photo

Sharpening involves adding contrast to an image which primarily focuses on tonal variations at the pixel level. In this lesson, we'll focus exclusively on those tonal variations, taking a look at sharpening the black and white image. I've already prepared this image for it's final output so I'm ready to apply my final sharpening to the image. As you can see, the artichokes here have a very woody texture to them. There's tremendous fine detail and I'd like to really accentuate that detail in my sharpening process.

Sharpening a black-and-white photo

Sharpening involves adding contrast to an image which primarily focuses on tonal variations at the pixel level. In this lesson, we'll focus exclusively on those tonal variations, taking a look at sharpening the black and white image. I've already prepared this image for it's final output so I'm ready to apply my final sharpening to the image. As you can see, the artichokes here have a very woody texture to them. There's tremendous fine detail and I'd like to really accentuate that detail in my sharpening process.

Because that detail is so fine, I think I'm going to need a very small radius setting and perhaps a moderate to high amount setting. Let's take a look at using Smart Sharpen to apply sharpening to this particular image. I'll go head and choose Filter, Sharpen, and then Smart Sharpen from the menu in order to bring up the Smart Sharpen dialog. I'll then click in the image in an area that seems to demonstrate the texture I'm most interested in. This particular portion of the artichoke. You can see there's a really fine degree of detail in that area, so I'd like to focus on that area as I'm applying my sharpening effect.

I'll start off by increasing the amount to more than I really need so that I can get a better sense of the size radius that I'd like to use. I'll go ahead and increase this radius too much and you can start to see those halos are becoming very large. In fact it doesn't take much of an increase in the radius setting for this particular image to get to the point that those sharpening halos are actually larger than the detail that I'm trying to enhance through sharpening. I'll go ahead and tone the radius down to a more appropriate level, in this case I'm working with the relatively low resolution image, and I have extremely fine detail, and so I think I'm going to need a very, very low radius setting. I'll go ahead and adjust this downward.

Oh, somewhere around point five, point six, will produce a good result in this case. It's important to keep in mind while I'm working with my radius adjustment here, that the amount slider is still at its maximum. I'm going to want to back that off a bit in my final sharpening effect. Right now I'm just trying to get the right radius setting for this image. Note by the way, that I'm working with lens blur as the remove option in smart sharpen which is actually the only option I'll use with smart sharpen. With the radius established, I can now fine time the amount setting.

I'll go ahead and reduce this a bit. And as I mentioned before, I think in this case I'm going to apply a relatively strong amount of sharpening. I'll go ahead and click on the image here, the preview image to see the before version and then release to see the after and that's a little bit aggressive for sharpening but in this case, I think it's going to work fine, especially since I'm going to be ultimately printing this particular image. Now I'm pretty happy with this result but I want to take a look at some of the shadow areas. I'll zoom in and take a look at these shadow areas and see if there's any problems there.

And it doesn't look like it's going to bee too problematic and taking a look at the smooth texture you can see here that the smart sharpen filter does a pretty good job of trying to preserve smooth texture areas within the image. So not a significant problem. In terms of the texture being added in those areas. So I don't think I'm really going to need to mitigate the sharpening for either the highlights or the shadows. In this particular case. So I don't even need to work with my shadow option to mitigate the sharpening. But going to the shadow tab.

Which requires that I have the advanced, rather than basic options set. You can see that the settings I applied for my previous sharpening are still intact. And it's important to keep in mind that smart sharped remembers your most recently used settings. So, my evaluation of the image was actually based on, you might say, false information. I was evaluating the effect based on the shadow sharpening already being faded. I'm going to back off to a 0% fade there and then let's go take another look at some of the shadow areas and in fact that doesn't change my opinion at all.

I can see that the shadow areas still look just fine. Highlight I don't think in this particular case are reallly a problem. Well let's go ahead and bring our fade amount for highlights down as well And sure enough I don't think that's going to be an issue. We can increase the fade amount and take a look at the image itself and decrease the fade amount and see what that difference is, but in this case I think we're perfectly fine with the sharpening applying to all areas of the image including shadows and highlights, so I'll leave those fade amount settings at zero percent.

I can then go back to my sharpen settings, and if needed, fine tune things just a little bit, but I think in this case we've got a really good result, considering I need to ever so slightly over-sharpen an image when I'm sending it to a photo inkjet printer, and so I think we've got a great result here. I'll go ahead and click okay to apply that sharpening, and I'm ready to print my image. In many ways, applying sharpening to a black and white image can actually help you better understand sharpening for all images, including those in color. That's because working on a black and white image allows you to focus exclusively on the tonal variations that are enhanced when you apply sharpening to a photo.

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Photoshop Sharpening Power Workshop

30 video lessons · 1176 viewers

Tim Grey
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