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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 quick look at how you go about sharpening a medium-frequency image which can mean one or two things. Either you have an image that contains a lot of high-frequency details and a lot of low-frequency details, and you are trying to strike a balance between the two; or the image contains really neither rapidly transitioning luminance levels nor gradually transitioning luminance levels but something in between. Now before we venture into our medium-frequency image, I want you to go back to the bridge and find that cabs and buildings.jpg file that's inside the 06 for detail folder and notice that it now has some Camera RAW settings associated with it.
That's not necessarily a bad thing but if you want to clear them out, because after all you ostensibly went ahead and saved your modifications as a native .PSD document and you have access to those Camera RAW settings inside of the Camera RAW Smart Object. Then you can go ahead and clear out these settings, and I am going to go ahead and do that by right-clicking on the cabs and buildings.jpg thumbnail and choosing Develop Settings and then choosing the Clear Settings command, and those settings go away. Now if I were to double-click on this jpeg file, I would open it normally inside Photoshop without going through Camera RAW.
Alright, I am going to scroll down the list here until I come to this image right here called Mars machine.jpg. Now this image does have some high-frequency details such as the gravel in the foreground there and it has some low-frequency details such as these rocks; these gradually transitioning rocks and of course, this gradient sort of fog in the background, but most of whats going on here inside this image is medium-frequency details. So we have neither rapidly transitioning luminance levels nor gradually transitioning luminance levels, but something in between.
Now I am going to tell you two things about this image; first of all, it comes to us from this guy named Andre Volodin with iStockphoto.com. It's an amazing image as you can see here. Now I am going to make no attempt to sharpen for source where this image is concerned because I have no idea what the source is. Presumably, this image was not shot with a digital camera, although I don't know that for sure; it could be a model setup, it could be a 3D rendering; I really don't know. Alright, so what I am going to do is just go ahead and double-click on Mars machine.jpg to open it up inside Photoshop.
The next thing I am going to do is I am going to bring up my Layers palette and I am going to convert this layer to a Smart Object. Because I didn't bring it through Camera RAW, it's not a Smart Object to begin with, so lets go and convert it to a Smart Object by clicking on little palette menu icon and choosing Convert to Smart Object, and then I am going to go ahead and name it something along the lines of vehicle, something like that, then press the Enter key. Alright, next, I am going to go to the Channels palette and I am going to Ctrl+Click or Command+Click on the green channel in order to load it as a selection outline.
Now lets move back to the Layers palette, I'll go on to the Filter menu and I am going to choose Sharpen and once again I am going to choose Smart Sharpen. Smart Sharpen is the better Command for not only high-frequency images, but medium-frequency images as well. The reason is because I want to leave that More Accurate checkbox on; in fact, I am only going to making a couple of minor modifications I am going to take the Amount value down from 250% down to 200% and I am going to raise the Radius value from 1.0 to 1.5 pixels.
I am going to leave Remove set to Lens Blur; otherwise, no other modifications, so just those two values slightly altered. Then I am going to go ahead and click on OK in order to accept that application of the Smart Sharpen filter. Now I am going to Alt+Click or Option+Click on the filter mask right there, and I am going to bring up my Actions palette. Now I have gone ahead and created a HiF edge mask, a high-frequency edge mask action, and I did that a couple of exercises back.
If you also created such an action, then all you need to do is go ahead and select it and play it, because that high-frequency edge mask action is going to work very well for a medium-frequency action as well. So go ahead and play that action and you'll see this edge mask right there. Alright, now Alt+Click or Option+Click on the Filter Mask thumbnail again in order to return to the full color RGB image. Now lets zoom-in on the image, so that we're seeing it at the 100% zoom ratio. I am going to double-click on the little blend icon to the right of the word "Smart Sharpen" in order to display the Blending Options dialog box.
I am going to change Mode to Luminosity and I am going to change the Opacity value to 66%, just like we saw with high-frequency. So almost all the steps are exactly the same as they were before; the only modification is we're to take the Amount value down and bring the Radius value up. Now I'll go ahead and click OK to accept that change and this is the sharpened version of this Mars vehicle. So this is what it looked like before, the unsharpened version of the vehicle as you can see here, I'll go ahead and zoom-in a little bit so we can see it more clearly, and this is the sharpened version of the vehicle right there.
So an examination of how to sharpen a medium-frequency image inside a Photoshop. In the next exercise, we will take a look at how to sharpen an image that contains multiple layers with both low-frequency and high-frequency elements. Stay tuned!
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