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Photoshop CS4: Sharpening Images New Features
Illustration by John Hersey

Sharpening and noise reduction


From:

Photoshop CS4: Sharpening Images New Features

with Deke McClelland

Video: Sharpening and noise reduction

In this exercise, we are going to see the effects of combining sharpening with noise removal. So noise removal first, and then sharpening second. And I think you'll find this to be utterly fascinating, even though we are working in this non-photographic diagram here, because it really does show you how important noise removal is to the sharpening process. So I am still working inside sharpshapes.psd, found inside the 01_how_it_works folder. And I'm going to switch from the Standard view to this view right here, Noise Removal. But first, let's go ahead and zoom in, so we can see the effect.

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Photoshop CS4: Sharpening Images New Features
58m 40s Intermediate Sep 25, 2009

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Photoshop CS4 New Features: Sharpening Images explores the changes to CS4's image-sharpening tools. As a companion to Deke McClelland's Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images, this short course teaches the new features for sharpening in CS4, focusing on the OpenGL support. OpenGL allows the user to preview an image at the size it will print, rather than waiting on output. For more information on sharpening after this course, continue with Photoshop CS3 Sharpening Images. Exercise files accompany this course.

Subjects:
Design Photography Sharpening
Software:
Photoshop
Author:
Deke McClelland

Sharpening and noise reduction

In this exercise, we are going to see the effects of combining sharpening with noise removal. So noise removal first, and then sharpening second. And I think you'll find this to be utterly fascinating, even though we are working in this non-photographic diagram here, because it really does show you how important noise removal is to the sharpening process. So I am still working inside sharpshapes.psd, found inside the 01_how_it_works folder. And I'm going to switch from the Standard view to this view right here, Noise Removal. But first, let's go ahead and zoom in, so we can see the effect.

Before I even do anything here, let's say that we are trying to get rid of this texture in the background, because we don't want to enhance that texture. And this texture is a stand-in for any kind of bad detail that we don't want to enhance. It could be digital noise captured by a digital camera, or it could be noise captured by a scanner, or it could be dust and scratches, or it could be film grain in a film transparency, or a color negative. And so what you would do is, before you sharpen the image, you would apply Noise Removal.

And I have this Noise Removal version of the image here inside the Layer Comps palette, and I'll go ahead and turn it on, and notice that we haven't gotten rid of all of the texture inside of the image, but we've managed to suppress quite a bit. So this is the original version of the image with texture. This is the version of the image with less texture, And I am fortunate in that I have been able to maintain the good detail in the image, that is the edges of this dark serpentine line. In the circles and so forth. All right. So the next step is to go ahead and Sharpen. After Noise Removal then Sharpen.

And this is what the effect looks like. So, this is the effect of sharpening after noise removal on this image. We've got our dark halos on the dark side of the line, the light halos on the light side of the edges, and compare that to the sharpened version of the image with the texture. It's a big, huge difference. These are the exact same sharpening settings by the way. The only difference is that this one had texture before we sharpened, and this one had the texture removed before we sharpened. Let's run the same test with that gradient version of the image. I have got this Gradient Noise Removal version right here and compare that, by the way, to the original Gradients version, and you are not going to see that much of a difference.

I mean, we are zoomed in here to 200% and yet we're only seeing a moderate amount of texture inside the Gradients version of the image. And yet that moderate amount of texture can turn into something wicked, when we apply sharpening to it. So, very small difference as you can see right here. This is the Noise Removal version of the gradient image. Now let's see the Sharpened version of the gradient with Noise Removal. It looks like this, as compared with the sharpened version of the gradient image with texture, which looks like this.

So big ginormous difference. I'll go ahead and scroll up a little bit here. Again, this is the textured version, the noise version of the image, and this is the noise defeated version of the image right there. So now, I'm not suggesting for a second that noise removal make things perfect. You are still going to run into some weird transitions every once in while with Sharpening. I don't know if you can make it out here. I'll zoom in just a little bit. And actually I am going to take it even farther. And here inside Photoshop CS4 we get that Pixel Grid, but if you press Ctrl+H or Command+H on the Mac, you can make that Pixel Grid go away so that you can see the pixels by themselves. And right along this edge, we really shouldn't see anything.

We shouldn't see any of this weird, jagged activity right here. We should just see smooth lines and that's it. But because Photoshop is finding some strange transitions inside of the gradient, some leftover noise patterns as well, it's going ahead and sharpening up that information, and making it look fairly messy. But of course, once we start zooming out that messiness starts disappearing. And so the farther we get away from the image, the less apparent that the sharpened noise is going to be. So remember that, when you're working with your own images. Noise Removal can make a big difference when it's applied before Sharpening.

In the next exercise, I am going to introduce you to your primary Sharpening settings in Photoshop: Amount and Radius.

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