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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 examine alternative sharpening Workflow #3 which is this guy right there 'Sharpening Selectively'. I am once again looking at the document Alternative Sharpening Workflows.PSD found inside the 02_when_to_sharpen folder. I am currently looking at the 'and more' Layer Comp. I am going to move ahead to the Workflow #3 Layer Comp here inside the Layer Comps palette, and I am going to Shift-Tab those palettes away and notice the title 'Accentuating Specific Details', which is what selective sharpening is all about.
First of all, you want to sharpen for the source, and by the source I mean, does it come from film? Does it come from a digital camera? Where does the image hail from? So you want to open the image, smooth and sharpen as warranted by the source- or don't. Your standard 10-megapixel or larger digital photograph requires slight or no attention except under special conditions. So if you have a high-end digital SLR and you are shooting 10-megapixel, 12-megapixel even 21-megapixel images on a regular basis, then you are probably not going to really have to spend too much time smoothing and sharpening the image inside of Camera RAW or Lightroom.
You can almost give that phase a slip, assuming that you are printing standard letter size images. Let's say. If you are enlarging the images to very large sizes, poster sizes or if you are working with high ISOs or you've got extreme sort of noise conditions going on, then that's when you're going to have to go in and apply smoothing and sharpening very deliberately. And we'll look at that in a subsequent Chapter, but just for now know that this is the least important stage in the process. Next thing we're going to do is edit the image, and notice that we've got two phases right here, Edit followed by Sharpening Selectively here, these two phases are largely interchangeable.
You can edit and then sharpen, you can sharpen and then edit, you can go back and forth. Order is less important than keeping your modifications nondestructive, because if each one of your edits and sharpening passes is nondestructive then they'll all interact with each other regardless of the order in which you apply them. Alright, next we move onto the big phase here, Sharpening Selectively, that's what this workflow is all about after all. Smart Filters, which are new to Photoshop CS3, permits you to sharpen independent layers or whole groups of layers without permanently committing to Amount, Radius or Blend settings.
Even when Smart Filters come up short, as when High Pass sharpening - when you are working with a High Pass filter you can't really do everything I'd like you to do using Smart Filters- you can still keep the effect nondestructive. And I should say this term nondestructive right here, it's a little bit of a misnomer because any time you start heaping edits on top of edits, on top of edits you are going to "destroy" the fabric of the image. What's more accurate is to say that these modifications are temporary and editable.
You can go in there and change the settings anytime you like, and hence, that's why we use the term 'Nondestructive', because it is nondestructive as it can be. Alright, then finally we move on to the Flatten, Resample and Sharpen phase, again a very familiar phase, but this is now our third pass of sharpening. Again, downsampling plays a role. So it helps to get rid of that first phase to a certain extent and the second phase as well, but more to that point each effect is unique, so each sharpening pass serves a different purpose and again therefore it is warranted.
So there you have it. Three alternative sharpening workflows laid bare before you. I am sure that you could develop some alternative sharpening workflows of your own. In the next exercise I am going to explain what conclusions I think we can draw from these many sharpening workflows that are available to us, and then finally, I'll show you why I think techniques are more important than workflows.
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