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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 talk about how to use an edge mask, in order to limit the portions of the image that we want to sharpen. So use an edge mask with sharpening and then as well see in another exercise, you use a non-edge mask to identify the non-edges of course inside the image and you use that to smooth the image, in order to reduce the noise and we will be performing both of these feeds on that Unguarded moment.jpeg file that's found inside 04_Support_Stuff folder, that comes to us from photographer Pascal Genest of iStockphoto.com.
Now you may recall that we have already been through this image, we use the Reduce Noise command combined along with the Smart Sharpen filter, in order to create a fairly smooth version of the image. But it does have some noise, right now I am looking at her neck, so this region right here and I am looking at it magnified and you maybe able to make out, especially if I zoom in some more that I have brought out some noise in this image. Even though I went ahead and downplayed the noise using Reduce Noise then when I turned around and applied Smart Sharpen, I brought the noise back out and I compared this with the original version of the image right here, this is that same area of the neck, it is definitely lower noise before we go and sharpen it.
So that worked out pretty well I thought. This time around we are going to make it work out better. So basically, edge mask and non-edge mask, they are your tools when just combining things like smoothing and sharpening together just doesn't cut it for you. It's not good enough. But they do involve some extra work, I will warn you about that. Alright. So I am going to go and switch to the full screen mode for this Unguarded Moment image and I am going to go ahead and press Shift+Tab to bring back my palette here and lets go ahead and convert her to a Smart Object because that's going to be the best way to work where this image is concerned. Then we are going use the edge mask to mask of course the sharpening effect.
So I am going to go over to the Layers palette and I am going to click at the Layers palette menu icon and choose Convert to Smart Object and lets go ahead and call her once again Model and now I am going to apply Smart Sharpen. I am going to up to the Filter menu, choose Sharpen and then choose Smart Sharpen and I am going to enter some pretty high values this time around. Actually lets just max it out so we can really see what's going on because the edge mask is going to serve to greatly limit this effect. So we'll start with an Amount value of 500%, I frequently do that just in order to gauge what kind of Radius value I want to use and in order to make sure that I am seeing the effect as I am making the edge mask, because we can always come back and change it later. That's the idea.
Alright. So Radius value of 4.0 pixels, Remove is set to Lens Blur, More Accurate is turned off, go ahead and click OK in order to accept that effect. And then you probably going to want to turn around and go ahead and double click on little blending icon right there. And lets change the Blend Mode of course to Luminosity because we just want to focus in on the luminance information inside the image, we don't want to be sharpening the color stuff. Looks like we are looking at her lips right now. This is before and this is after I switch to Luminosity. So right here we are seeing the color artifacts inside of her lips, you can see a little bit of some purples around the bottom of her lip and some greens on the top lip and so on and they will disappear as soon as I release.
So it's a good thing. I'll click OK in order to accept that modification. I am going to go ahead and get rid of this mask by dragging it to the trash can right there because its easier to create the mask by invoking your selection outline and then just converting it to a mask as opposed to doing anything else. So it's just easier to start the mask over again. It's basically what I am saying. Before I go to the Channels palette, I want to turn off the Smart Filters effect. So we are looking at the original version of the image. Alright. Now I am going over to the Channels palette and the reason I am going to Channels palette is I need to select a channel from which to derive an edge mask and I am going to ahead and zoom in on her just a little bit here.
Lets check out the channels that are available to us. Ctrl+1 would take us to the red channel, that'd be Command+1 on the Mac. Command or Ctrl+2 is going to take us to the green channel and Command or Ctrl+3 is going to take us to the blue channel. Now the blue channel is in absolute mess. We have got all kinds of harsh choppy transitions going on inside the blue channel and also we have some lightning occurring inside the shadows. This is the kind of stuff that frequently happens with the blue channels and it's because our eyes react less to blue light than red or green light.
So bad information can hang out. It can hide out in the blue channel and also the blue filter in digital cameras is sufficiently dark that it leaves very little wiggle room in terms of generating image data. So your blue channel is typically going to be your least satisfactory channel inside of an image and it's quite bad inside of this photograph. This is the green channel, it's in much better shape but it still has some roughness and also it doesn't really have enough contrast. It's a low contrast channel. I want a higher contrast channel and for portrait shots, that's going to be your red channel.
You are going to want to start from your red channel most of the time when you are working with portrait shots. So lets go ahead and grab that red channel and we are going to load it as a selection outline by Ctrl or Command-clicking on its thumbnail. So Ctrl-click on the thumbnail on the PC, Command-click on the thumbnail on the Mac, then I am going to switch back to the RGB image and notice that we have loaded the light areas as the selection outline. So we selected light areas of that channel, we have deselected the dark areas essentially and this marching ant selection indicates that we have either selected or deselected areas, it actually just represents the 50% Threshold.
It is a very gradual selection outline. I am now going to move over to the Layers palette. Lets turn the Smart Filters item back on, recall that you need to click outside of the underline right there, in order to turn it on. Then I am going to right click on Smart Filter and choose Add Filter Mask and that's just going to go ahead and convert the selection outline back to a channel essentially. And this is what it looks like. I'll Alt-click or Option-click on this layer mask right here and we can see this mask and its exactly it is identical to the red channel we were just looking at a moment ago.
So converting from a channel to a selection outline and back to a mask is a non-destructive conversion every single time. So all that pixel data is still intact which is really great. Now we need to take this information right here, this mask in progress, which is just a red channel so far, we need to take it and convert it into an edge mask and we are going to do that in the next exercise.
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