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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.
In this exercise, I am going to show you how to sharpen a layered composition that contains both low-frequency and high-frequency imagery mixed together. One such file as this one right here. It's called Album cover.PSD. Its found inside of the 06 for detail folder and i'ts the cover art for an imaginary album from an imaginary group called "Outrage by June" right here, and notice what we've got. We have a handful of layers as well as these vector objects up top.
So if you were to turn off this top group, you could see that it contains the bar that's sort of greenish yellowish bar down the center, and it also contains all the text elements and incidentally, you might get a warning. You might get a warning that's telling you that you don't have the fonts required to work with this document. Don't worry about that. As long as you are not editing the text, it won't make any difference. So just go ahead and click OK or Ignore or whatever it wants you to click. Anyway, I am going to go ahead and turn those objects back on. Obviously, were not going to be sharpening the objects inside of that vector objects group. Because you don't want to sharpen highly-graphic objects such as rectangles for example nor do you want to sharpen text.
You just want to stick with the imagery itself -- the photographic imagery. In that case, the photographic imagery includes these guys right here - yowo, which is short for young woman of course, and then rock and the rock image is colorized using a gradient map layer right there. Both of these layers are Smart Objects that are processed inside of Camera RAW. Now it might be tempting to go ahead and sharpen each one of these Smart Objects independently of each other.
For example, you could sharpen the portrait using the High-Pass filter and you could sharpen the rocks using the Smart Sharpen filter. The reason I am not going to recommend you work that way is because I have already accounted for the fact that one image is low-frequency and one image is high-frequency inside of Camera RAW. The old school way that I showed you in the previous chapter. That is to say, I'll go ahead and double-click on yowo here in order to open Camera RAW and we'll switch over to the Detail panel. By the way, I should tell you this beautiful image here comes to us from photographer, Gabriel Estey, iStockphoto.com.
Notice I followed my advice from the previous chapter which is when sharpening low-frequency images you want to combine a low Amount value 40 in this case with a relatively high Radius value 1.5, a low Detail value, in this case 25 and a relatively high masking value. Actually its kind of a medium-masking value of 35. So I have already accounted for the fact that this is a portrait shot, that it's a low-frequency portrait shot. If you want to see what that means, I'll go ahead and zoom-in at the image so we can see it at the 100% zoom size and we can see the sharpening that's applied.
So if I were to crank the Amount value down to 0, this is what the unsharpened version of the image looks like. Take it back up to 40%, this is the sharpened version of the portrait. Alright, I am just going to cancel out because I didn't make any changes inside of this dialog box. Meanwhile, the rock image, if you double-click on it in order to bring up the Camera RAW dialog box here; lets go ahead and press Ctrl+Alt+0 or Command+Option+0 on the Mac in order to zoom the image to the 100% zoom ratio. I'll switch over to my Detail panel, and you notice again I am following my advice, I am combining -- well with one exception, I am combining a fairly low Amount value, I'll come back to that in a moment, with a low Radius value, a high Detail value and a low Masking value.
So we are doing the opposite number that we do with the low-frequency image. Now the reason I am keeping the Amount value pretty low is because of that gradient map layer. That gradient map layer has a penchant for actually increasing the sharpness of the image. So you'll notice- lets go ahead and find a detail actually that's visible inside of the layered composition. This rock right here once its embedded in your memory for just a moment; remember what it looks like. Oh, and by the way, I want to show you one other thing about this image. I do have some chromatic aberration modifications going on, that make a big difference in terms of the perceived sharpness of the image.
So lets go ahead scroll over to the upper left image for a moment. Notice what happens if I change this value to 0 and press Tab, we get a fuzzier looking rock, and especially after I apply the colorization using the gradient map layer, it ends up just translating to a little bit of fuzziness. Here of course were seeing separate colors, but once we colorize it, we wont see those colors anymore. So it does a world of good to adjust your chromatic aberration settings. Make sure that you have all your colors in alignment, I want to make sure that you do that on a regular basis.
Alright, anyway I am going to go ahead and scroll over to the right, once again to find out one rock, where is it? Oh heck, lets go ahead and zoom at, forgive me here, every once in a while. There it is. Alright, that's the rock that I am thinking of because this is the rock that were going to be able to see over inside the layered image. Alright So kind of burn this in your mind, it's a little bit sharp looking, not super-shape. Lets go back to my Detail settings. If I take this value down to 0, you can see that is definitely softer than this right here. But normally, I would sharpen it to about this level, to about a 100%.
So we get that kind of sharpening with her high-frequency details, right? But in this case, I am not going to go that high. As I say, well kind of keep it medium, just a little bit tempered and when I click Cancel to go back to the layered image, take a look at how sharp that rock appears on screen here. It's a much sharper looking rock than what we saw before. Again, that's a function of this gradient map layer because we are squishing the luminance levels essentially and I am modifying them fairly radically. That ends up creating the perception of sharpness as well.
Alright, so anyway we've got these two different styles of images that we need to accommodate in one sharpening operation. I've already taken care of sharpening her as a low-frequency image and the rocks as a high-frequency image. So the detail sharpening that we are applying here inside Photoshop can be applied to all of these images at once. So I am going to click on one, I am going to Shift+click on gradmap in order to select this entire group of objects right there. Do not select the vector objects group. Leave it out but select everything else.
Then go ahead and convert this to a Smart Object. So group them all into one-layer Smart Object, and you can of course do that by choosing the command from the Layers palette menu and I am going to go ahead and rename this Smart Object Frequencies here like so. Notice if I go ahead and double-click on this frequencies Smart Object here, on that Smart Object thumbnail, I will see the actual images that are involved in the Smart Object, all of the layers and they are appearing un-cropped as well. So this is the un-cropped original version of these layers.
So a Smart Object- the point I am trying to make here is that Smart Object can contain multiple layers including adjustment layers and so on. Alright, I am going to go ahead and close out of this Smart Object so that we are looking at the album cover. In the next exercise, now that we've created the Smart Object and I've shown you the settings that are going on in the background inside of Camera RAW. In the next exercise, we are going to set about sharpening the detail inside of these layers.
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