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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 we are going to take a look at how to sharpen a low frequency portrait shot with the source in mind. I want you to go ahead and navigate to the 05_for_source folder, here inside the Bridge, find Dangerous gentleman.dng. This image comes to us from photographer, Nick Monu of iStockphoto.com. I am going to go ahead and open it on up by pressing Ctrl+R or Command+R in the Mac, in order to invoke Camera RAW here inside the Bridge. Lets go ahead and press crtl+alt+0, or Command option 0 on the Mac in order to switch to the 100% zoom level.
I am going to go ahead and keep his eye on screen, that's the part of the image I want to see, that's the portion of the image you want to keep an eye on whenever you are working with a portrait shot, because the eye is the detail that needs to stay most sharply focused, most of the time, generally speaking. Alright, lets go ahead and switch over to the Detail panel, which of course you can do by pressing ctrl+alt+3 or Command option 3 on the Mac. I am going to again raise the Amount value, you know that its set to 14 for this image, I am going to raise the Amount value to 150%, once again, maxing it out, so that we can see the effects of the other options.
Now you may recall that when we are working with a high frequency or medium frequency shots, you want to go high with amount, low with radius, high with detail and low with masking. Its just the opposite when you are working with a low frequency image or a portrait shot, and recall that low frequency means that we have gradual transitions between luminous levels, and opposite would mean a low Amount value combined with a high Radius value, low detail and high masking. Once again, this is all relative, I am not suggesting you go way low with the Amount value or that you crank the radius through the roof.
In fact, lets see what happens to this image when we crank the radius through the roof. I will take it up to 3.0 pixels, and you can see that we end up rounding up the contours again, we are applying something resembling median to this image. So we are gooping up the details. I don't like that at all, I don't think it does the image any degree of good to go this high with radius. Most images suffer for it. So I am going to take the Radius value to about half that, which is 1.5, and then I am going to press the Tab key. 1.5 is actually a very high Radius value, when you are sharpening for the source, and where you are sharpening inside of Camera RAW.
So you want to keep your Radius values low in general. With a portrait shot, we are talking about 1.5, maybe as high as two, but that's pushing, in my opinion 2.0. When we are talking about a medium frequency or a high frequency shot at still life, then we want to go low with the radius value and as low as the minimum value, 0.5. Alright, anyway, what works well for this image is a Radius value of 1.5. I am now going to go ahead and take the detail value up just so that we can see what happens if we raise that detail value.
You can see that we are getting very, very crunchy details, we are sharpening the pores, and all the other surface imperfections inside of this image, not something we want to do when we are working with a portrait shot, so its just like we don't want to apply the More Accurate check box when we are working with portraits. Similarly, we don't want to go high with the detail value. So lets go ahead and take it down. Now if we take it all the way down to a value of zero, we are again rounding off the details, we are smoothing off the details, smoothing off the corners, inside of the image.
Again, I feel like we are going too far, so I would take the detail value to something around 20. 20 is actually a really great value, something in the 20-30 range, it really works well with portraiture. Then I am going to raise that masking value as well. I encourage you to go ahead and alt+drag or option+drag on this slider triangle here, in order to see the mask generate on the fly, so that you can keep track of exactly which portions of the image are being concealed or being protected with the black, and which portions are being revealed or affected with the white.
Masking value for this image, a masking value of about 70 works very nicely. Now because we started with the original shot, we can do a before and after preview here, just by turning on and off the preview check box. So this is the image as we originally found it, a little bit soft, and this is the image as it appears Now little bit over-sharpened as you can see, and that's because we have the Amount value set way too high. Now for this shot I would probably take the Amount value down to about 50%, which is a fairly subtle modification. I have seen people go even lower where portraits are concerned.
But you are not getting much done if you go below 50%, you are applying a pretty darn subtle effect, and I am not sure its going to serve you very well. So in an image like this I would probably take it to about 50%, but again, for the sake of detail here in this video, I am going to go ahead and raise the Amount value to 80% for this particular image. Alright, so again, here is what the image looked like originally, if I press the P key, I will turn off the preview check box, and if I press P again, you got to keep your eye on the image here, if I press P again, you will see the effect of the sharpening.
So its already quite a subtle effect as it turns out, but we can begin to make out of this wonderful details, such as the hairs on -- his sideburn here, and the small growth of beard that he has going, so this is before and this is after. You can also see that he has a little bit of a thread or a long hair or something hanging off of his ear. You can make out a few sort of weird little things going on; the guys skin is incredibly smooth, he is absolutely a deadly handsome man, but he does have a little green thread hanging off his chin down here, so you can make that out.
We can also make out, this is the bottom of his chin incidentally, we can also make out a ton of noise that's going on inside of his tie, and if we were looking at the background, you could see the noise in the background as well. So that's something we will have to take care of. I will show you how to address this noise in a future exercise, but these are just some things to bear in mind; this sharpening is bringing out the noise detail inside the image, as well as the good detail, of course. Alright, so just to give you a sense, here is the lips, by the way, this is the before and this is the after version of those lips.
So we are doing a dynamite job I think of sharpening this particular image. So again, I have got 81.5, 20, 70, low, relatively low, relatively high, low for detail, high for masking, I wouldn't go really this high for the Amount value, I would probably take it down to more like 50%. These are the sharpening settings I would go for, for this particular image. In the next exercise, we are going to take a look at how to work with the noise reduction functions; luminance and color.
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