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Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Advanced, the second part of the popular and comprehensive series, updated for CS5, follows internationally renowned Photoshop guru Deke McClelland as he dives into the workings of Photoshop. He explores such digital-age wonders as the Levels and Curves commands, edge-detection filters, advanced compositing techniques, vector-based text, the Liquify filter, and Camera Raw. Deke also teaches tried-and-true methods for sharpening details, smoothing over wrinkles and imperfections, and enhancing colors without harming the original image. Exercise files accompany the course.
Recommended prerequisite: Photoshop CS5 One-on-One: Fundamentals.
I still have open Roman theater.dng, found inside the 24_camera_raw folder. And in this exercise, we're going to take a look at the Sharpening options right there. Now, note that I'm zoomed in to 200%, so that we can clearly see the detail inside this image. I am going to scroll over a little bit, so that we can take in this column, along with a little bit of sky and some details in the background. Now, bear in mind once again that we are trying to accommodate for the input process, so we are sharpening to compensate for the effects of our Noise Reduction options down here. We're also trying to correct for the natural softening effect of the demosaicing process.
That's part and parcel of bringing an image from Camera RAW into Photoshop. So we start things off here with this Amount value and you can crank up the Amount in order to apply more sharpening to your image. I figure that's fairly self-evident. We also have a Radius value that's going to allow you to increase or decrease the size of your halos. I urge you not to take your halos too high. Notice that the Radius value tops out at 3.0 pixels there, because anything after that is going to start surviving the print process, and you don't want to create halos that survive the print process at this point in time.
You want to apply very targeted sharpening using a low Radius value. Anyway, I will leave it a little high for now, just so we can see what's going on here. The Detail option is basically a sliding version of that More Accurate check box that I showed you inside the Smart Sharpen dialog box back in the previous chapter. And so the idea is if you increase the Detail value, you're going to apply that micro sharpening to the image, and as a result you will see all these kinds of wormy patterns, sort of termite patterns throughout the photograph. I don't find it to be the least bit pleasant, so anyway, I typically take this value down.
By default, it's set to 25%. And then Masking allows you to create an edge mask on the fly. And in order to understand what's going on there, because it's a very cool function, I need to show you this awesome trick that you can apply to all four of these sliders. You can Alt+drag or Option+drag the slider triangle in order to see exactly what's going on. So if you Alt+drag or Option+drag the Amount value, you will see the amount applied just to the luminance information inside the image, because Camera RAW only sharpens luminance.
That's the way it works by default. If you Alt+drag or Option+drag the Radius value, you'll see those light and dark halos develop and grow or shrink on the fly. If you Alt+drag or Option+drag the Detail option, then you will see that Detail grow in grayscale. So again, this is a luminance only function right here. And you'll also see it shrink away, which is good, in my opinion. You don't want much of it. And then finally, this one is great. If you Alt+drag or Option+drag the Masking slider triangle, you will see that edge mask develop on the fly.
The higher you go with the Masking option, the smaller your edge mask become, so the more targeted your sharpening effect becomes as well. All right, where this image is concerned however, I'm going to reset my options to their defaults, which is a Radius of 1, a Detail setting of 25, and a Masking setting of 0. The default Amount value is 25, I am going to raise it to 50, because I have applied a bit of Noise Reduction right there. So when you raise your Noise Reduction values, you're probably going to want to raise your Sharpening Amount value as well.
All right, so that's how these various Detail options work when you're trying to accommodate a low noise image. What about a high noise image? For example, this guy right there, Ventura harbor.dng, this is a corrected version of the image from a couple of exercises ago, again found inside the 24_camera_raw folder. And I'm going to go ahead and zoom in on the image, once again to 100% by pressing Ctrl+Alt+0 or Command+Option+0 on the Mac, and then I'm going to scroll down to this boat right here, so that we can see it in all of its detail.
Now, I want you to notice something here. See this color noise, the wandering colors inside the hull of this ship? It should be neutral, so we should just see shades of gray really, or because of our very warm color temperature value, we may see some cool blues inside of this region. However, what we see is a mottling of blues and violets and greens. To smooth that out, I am going to go ahead and raise that color value from 25 to 75, so I am going to take it pretty high, and that ends up smoothing out the hull pretty nicely. Now, notice when I zoom out, I will press Ctrl+Minus or Command+Minus on the Mac, the color noise comes back. There it is.
It's worse than ever in fact, because we're not seeing the effects of any color noise reduction wen we're zoomed out like this. So just remember that that's happening. You cannot evaluate the noise inside your image at anything less than 100% in Camera RA. Inside Photoshop, you can. Anyway, I am going to zoom back in there. All right, I also need to reduce some luminance noise here, but before I can do that effectively, I need to blow out the shadows a little more. I need to exaggerate them, just temporarily. So I am going to go back to the Basic panel, and I'm going to increase my Fill Light value to say 30, and I will later follow that up and reduce that value, because I don't want my shadows to be this overly lit.
Notice things are looking pretty darn strange in the background here. In fact, this boat now looks like a toy boat in a bathtub. Anyway, I am going to zoom back in, and then I am going to switch back over to my Detail panel, and I'm going to raise that Luminance value until the noise starts to go away, and really I think I want this guy pretty high. I am going to take it up to 75%. I'm going to keep my Luminance Detail option set to 50% incidentally, and then let me just show you Luminance Contrast here, because I don't think you're going to see anything happen whatsoever.
In fact, let's go a little farther with this. I am going to take the Amount value for my Sharpening up to 150%. So that we're exaggerating the sharpening, so we can see the noise in all of its glorious detail. And notice, if I ramp up the Detail option, I am creating just worms all over this image. It's just hideous, but if I take the Detail value down, then I just have the micro worms here and there. They are pretty evident actually. And notice if I take that Luminance Detail value down, that I'm still left with little pockmarks of noise here and there inside of the image, whereas if I take it up, then I have more uniform detail sharpening going on.
So I am going to ahead and keep my Luminance Detail at 50%, but I just want you to notice that that is happening in the background. We're not going to have such a high Amount value, so it won't be so obvious in just a moment. But I am exaggerating the Amount, and I might as well exaggerate the Radius as well. Let's take it up to something like 2.5 for a moment. So we can try to see the difference here between Luminance Contrast. So right now we are seeing a Luminance Contrast value of 0. Let's go ahead and zoom in even farther here, so we can see basically the hood of this yacht, I suppose.
And now I'm going to increase the Luminance Contrast value all the way to 100. And did you see just that slight change in the quality of the noise there inside of the image? So this is 100%. Look right here across this blue material. That's 100% and this is the effect of 0. So the Contrast drops out ever so slightly when you reduce that value. I am not sure it's worth even worrying about, but there it is. You may notice it has a more profound effect over time. But anyway, having applied these settings, so 75, 50, 0.
75, 50 once again for my Noise Reduction options, I am going to take my Amount value down to 50, once again to account slightly for the Noise Reduction that I have applied. I might even take it a little bit higher, but this is an awfully noisy image so I don't want to push it. And then I'm going to reduce my Radius value back down to 1, and I am going to take Detail down to 0. I don't want that kind of molecular sharpening inside this image. And then finally, I am going to switch back to my Basic panel and restore the Fill Light to 0 as well, because I'm done with that option.
And this is the lower noise version of the image. Another area that you might want to check out is these background boats right here, which are looking in pretty darn good shape I have to say, thanks to my ability to go in there and massage the differences between neighboring pixels here inside the Detail panel.
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