Inkjet Printing for Photographers
Illustration by John Hersey

Sharpening through an edge mask


Inkjet Printing for Photographers

with Ben Long

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Video: Sharpening through an edge mask

In the last movie you saw me selectively sharpen this image by duplicating the Background layer, Sharpening it, and then adding a layer Mask that hid the layer entirely. I then took a white paintbrush and painted into that mask to reveal only the areas of the sharpened layer that I wanted to be able to see, and that let me selectively sharpened the eyes and the hair. We are going to do the same thing in this movie, but I'm going to use a different method to create the mask, rather than going in and having to paint it by hand. I'm going have Photoshop create a mask for me.
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  1. 9m 18s
    1. Welcome
      1m 50s
    2. Exploring why we print
      4m 3s
    3. Understanding what you need for this course
      3m 25s
  2. 13m 29s
    1. Why inkjet printing?
      4m 36s
    2. Understanding ink types: Dye vs. pigment
      4m 26s
    3. Discussing considerations for black and white
      1m 48s
    4. Reviewing the features
      2m 39s
  3. 1h 1m
    1. Printing and your workflow
      3m 3s
    2. Printing black-and-white photos
      6m 49s
    3. Understanding the histogram
      7m 37s
    4. Understanding what localized adjustments are used for
      2m 38s
    5. Explaining the histogram with a practical example
      6m 51s
    6. Making a localized adjustment in a practical example
      5m 30s
    7. Evaluating a localized adjustment in a practical example
      2m 29s
    8. Refining a localized adjustment for effect
      13m 36s
    9. Making a gradient adjustment
      6m 47s
    10. Paying attention to viewing conditions
      4m 49s
    11. Summing up
      1m 50s
  4. 54m 36s
    1. Understanding pixels, printer dots, and resolution
      2m 44s
    2. Understanding resolution
      2m 33s
    3. Defining resampling and interpolation
      3m 41s
    4. Understanding where resizing fits into your workflow
      2m 12s
    5. Defining native printer resolution
      2m 39s
    6. Understanding the relationship between viewing distance and print size
      2m 1s
    7. Reducing image size in Photoshop
      9m 11s
    8. Cropping to a specific size and resolution using Canvas Size
      4m 34s
    9. Cropping to a specific size and resolution using the Crop tool
      5m 15s
    10. Enlarging an image in Photoshop
      7m 7s
    11. Creating a triptych
      3m 55s
    12. Creating a triptych using Automator on a Mac
      4m 5s
    13. Exploring the aesthetics of print size
      4m 39s
  5. 1h 17m
    1. Understanding how sharpening works
      3m 18s
    2. Sharpening in JPEG mode
      1m 26s
    3. Exploring sharpening workflows
      3m 47s
    4. Sharpening in Camera Raw
      6m 17s
    5. Looking at noise reduction
      1m 46s
    6. Sharpening output with Smart Sharpen
      11m 52s
    7. Understanding selective sharpening
      4m 25s
    8. Sharpening through an edge mask
      7m 17s
    9. Reviewing high-pass sharpening
      4m 30s
    10. Applying aggressive sharpening
      8m 53s
    11. Exploring advanced sharpening techniques
      9m 7s
    12. Exploring the Print dialog
      11m 35s
    13. Proofing at smaller sizes
      3m 3s
  6. 53m 9s
    1. Exploring how color works
      2m 5s
    2. Reviewing color models
      2m 56s
    3. Defining gamut and color space
      9m 55s
    4. Reviewing when colors go out of gamut
      4m 54s
    5. Configuring Photoshop's color settings
      5m 47s
    6. Changing color space in Camera Raw
      4m 7s
    7. Working in an advanced color space
      6m 13s
    8. Assigning a color space in Photoshop
      2m 20s
    9. Correcting a color image
      9m 17s
    10. Printing a color image
      3m 30s
    11. Evaluating the print
      2m 5s
  7. 34m 46s
    1. What is color management?
      4m 16s
    2. Profiling a monitor
      8m 45s
    3. Evaluating a monitor profile
      4m 37s
    4. Exploring paper profiles
      5m 17s
    5. Understanding soft proofing
      11m 51s
  8. 24m 33s
    1. Understanding how paper quality affects the appearance of black in prints
      3m 26s
    2. Looking at third-party papers
      3m 46s
    3. Looking at paper finish
      3m 44s
    4. Understanding paper traits
      6m 31s
    5. Discussing paper choice and presentation
      7m 6s
  9. 23m 18s
    1. Printing a black-and-white image
      11m 45s
    2. Printing a color image
      11m 33s
  10. 1m 16s
    1. Goodbye
      1m 16s

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Watch the Online Video Course Inkjet Printing for Photographers
5h 53m Intermediate Sep 14, 2012

Viewers: in countries Watching now:

In this course, photographer and author Ben Long explores the art and the craft of creating beautiful, archival-quality inkjet prints. The course looks at the anatomy of a print job: how a printer works, how to adjust and prepare your image to get the best results, and what happens to your photo in its journey from pixels to paper.

After a discussion of how to choose a printer, the course covers the process of preparing both black and white and color images using Adobe Photoshop. Ben describes how to take images from looking good onscreen to being properly adjusted for best results on paper, covering details such as sizing, sharpening, and color management.

With photographer and master framer Konrad Eek, Ben explores the creative decisions that photographers should address before printing. What size print? How does print size relate to the message of the photo and to the space where the photo will be displayed? What kinds of paper choices do you have, and how does your photo's content relate to the paper you choose?

The course also describes how to properly evaluate a print and how to handle common challenges that crop up during the printing process.

Topics include:
  • Why print with inkjet?
  • Types of inkjet printers: dyes versus pigments
  • Making image adjustments specifically for printing
  • Printing black-and-white photos
  • Resizing an image
  • Choosing paper
  • Working with sharpening and noise reduction
  • Color management
Ben Long

Sharpening through an edge mask

In the last movie you saw me selectively sharpen this image by duplicating the Background layer, Sharpening it, and then adding a layer Mask that hid the layer entirely. I then took a white paintbrush and painted into that mask to reveal only the areas of the sharpened layer that I wanted to be able to see, and that let me selectively sharpened the eyes and the hair. We are going to do the same thing in this movie, but I'm going to use a different method to create the mask, rather than going in and having to paint it by hand. I'm going have Photoshop create a mask for me.

There are lot of filters and image editing operations in Photoshop that allow you to create kind of weird special effects kind of looks, and one of those filters is a filter called Find Edges. I'm going delete this sharpened layer here. And let's go up here to Filter > Stylize > Find Edges and what that does is it goes through my image and finds only edges and exaggerates those and gives me this weird looking affect, which actually does me no good at all in terms of creating a final image.

But if I think about Selective Sharpening, what I want to do when I selectively sharpen is to sharpen only the edges in an image. And with the technique we saw in the last chapter, we saw that I could sharpen an image and then create a mask that revealed only areas that needed to be sharpened. Well, here I've got a Filter that will automatically find edges in the image, so if there's a way that I could use this to build a mask, then I could have Photoshop automatically find edges, use those find edges as a mask and then apply Sharpening through that mask and so I'd be sharpening only edges, not surface features, like skin texture.

So that's what we're going to do here and the way we're going do it is we're going dive into the Channels palette. As you know, or as you should know I hope, color in an image is created by mixing red, green, and blue, and in Photoshop those separate red, green, and blue components are stored as Channels. And I can look at individual channels. Here's all the Red information in the image, here's all the Green, here's all of the Blue. If you're wondering why they are Grayscale, it's very simple, these images are showing your density of each specific color. So I'm looking at a map of the density of Blue in the image, where there is Black, there is no blue, where there is White, there is Blue, where there is Gray, there is something in between, same thing here for Green, same thing here for Red.

If you think about skin tones, skin tones have a lot of red in them, so that makes sense that the Red channel would be very white on her skin because there's a lot of red there. It also makes sense that the Blue channel would be very dark, because there's not much blue there. Her teeth are light in all three images, because white is an equal mix of red, green, blue, same with the whites of her eyes. So none of that's really necessary to understand for the sake of what we're going to now. All I want to do is look through these three channels and find the one that has the most useful edge information in it.

I'm watching her eyes and while I can see good definition in her eyelashes and eyebrows, in the Blue channel I see also all of this skin texture, and of course, all of the skin texture on her face. Same with the Green channel, but in the Red channel her face is mostly blank, it's mostly white and all I see are eyelashes and eyes and good hair detail. I can see the lines that define the edge of her face. So this is a good starting point for trying to get an image that's distilled down to only edges.

So what I'm going to do is duplicate my Red channel, because now I'm going to mess with it. This channel is just a normal grayscale image I can do anything that I want to it, so I am going to go up to Filter and go to Stylize and choose my Find Edges, and when I do that, I get this. Now Masks of course are simply black and white. Black areas are masked, white edges are not, so this is already starting to look a little more like a usable mask. I'm going to bring up my Levels dialog box now and increase the contrast. I want to really bring out the hard edges that I what to lose some of that skin texture.

So I want to see if I get this down to just looking like I'm only seeing lines that are relevant to edges that I might want to sharpen. Now that's looking pretty good. I am seeing a lot of good stuff here under eyes. I am going to do a little bit of sharpening on the edge of her teeth, on her necklace, lots of sharpening on her hair, I am going to hit OK there. Now the problem is black areas in a mask are masked, they are protected. In other words, sharpening is not going to go through to these black areas, it's going to go through to the white areas, which are all her skin tone. So what I need to do is invert this layer.

If I go to Image > Adjustments > Invert, now I get the negative version of it. This is looking really good. If you remember the last tutorial, I painted white into the mask in the areas that I wanted to sharpen. This is looking like kind of stuff that I might paint, but with the Level of Detail, that I'd never do by hand, and probably could not do by hand. So now what I need to do is load this as a selection. If I pick up this channel and drop it on this little Load Selection icon down here at the bottom of the layers palette, I can see my marching ants stuff around here.

So I now got a selection, I'm going to click on RGB to go back to my Normal view, and go back to my layers palette. Now I'm going to duplicate my Background layer, because again, I want to keep my sharpening discreet, I want to be able to throw it out later if I want. I'd also like to get rid of these marching ants, they're annoying. I could do Command+H, or Ctrl+H, or I can go up here and turn off Shows Selection Edges. My selection is still there, it is just I don't see all of that stuff on the screen. Filter > Sharpen > Smart Sharpen just like we did before, and just as we did before, I am going to zoom in here to 100%, taking my Default values to start with.

I'm going to turn off Preview, and I'm watching her eyes as I turn it on and off, and I'm seeing a difference. Her eyes are sharpening, so are her eyebrows. I am not getting any change on her skin texture. The sharpening is not quite as aggressive as the same settings were previously, and I think that's because the mask is filtering some of the sharpening effect. I am going to launch her hair over here, as I turn that off. I'm picking up some sharpening on her hair. I am going to turn up the Amount just a little bit to get a slightly more aggressive sharpening, and I think that's a little too much, since the mask seems to be filtering some of it out, and I think that's looking pretty good.

I'm going to say OK and zoom out and just see even from this distance if I can tell, there are some differences overall. So I don't see the mask that I've created, it's just applied directly to the sharpening. I could actually apply this as an Adjustment layer, but there's really no need if I don't like the Sharpening, I'm just going to delete the layer and start over. So, edge masking of this type is a way of getting very complicated edge masks built, so that you can again constrain your sharpening just too some areas in your image.

Honestly I don't use this as often as I use the technique we saw in the last movie. But for times where I have got a really noisy image, I want to be really careful about protecting skin tone or for times where there's lots of fine detail throughout the image that I'd like to have sharpened, this is a great technique. In this case since it's really just her eyes, that's an easy enough thing to paint, but in the landscape image or maybe I have got foliage all throughout the image that I want to selectively sharpen, this is a very easy way to do it.

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