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Photoshop CS4 for Photographers is an essential course for any digital photographer who wants to master the software's vast array of image enhancement techniques. Professional photographer and instructor Chris Orwig uses his own compelling images to demonstrate how the power of Photoshop can make photographers more passionate about their work. He covers many aspects of the application, such as working with RAW images, using curves and levels, making images snap, and enhancing bland photographs by converting them to black and white. Exercise files accompany this course.
In this movie, we will working on the file corwig_sign and here is where we will actually apply what we have learned about Smart Sharpen to an image. So go ahead and open it up in Photoshop and then press F to go to Full Screen View mode. Now I have to make a quick comment about this photo and here is why. I really like this photo because it's a hand painted sign on the side of a wood building and you can see the wood there and I think that's so beautiful. It's a little bit of that lost art of hand painted signs and my grandfather, that's actually what he did for living is he -- he was a commercial artist and he hand painted signs and here is a cool trivia fact about my grandfather. He could paint as well with his right hand as he could with his left hand. How cool is that? All right well, anyway. Enough about that. Let's go to sharpening this image.
What I want to do here is double-click the Zoom tool, take it to 100% so I can see some of the details of this photograph. Now when I look at the image. I see you know what, it's looking pretty good. For the most part the image is really sharp. I just want to make it snap a little bit more. So I'll go ahead and navigate to the Background layer and Right-click or Ctrl-click and choose Convert for Smart Object. Next navigate to the Filter pulldown menu, I'm going to choose Sharpen and then select Smart Sharpen. Now we are going to start off by choosing just the Basic option here. One of the things that I want to do is to zoom way in on the image, get into some of the texture. Now here we have our overall Amount, I'm going to decrease that.
You can see the overall amount and how that's affecting the image, okay interesting. Now what's the Radius about? Again, that's a reach. So when we increase this, what we are going to see is that the sharpening is reaching out further. I'll go ahead and increase that a little bit more and I'll pan around and see if I can find another spot. This will be a good spot for us as well. So here we can see the reach especially around the black line as it extends out. Well, right now we are using Lens Blur. What about Gaussian Blur? Well Gaussian Blur, what we are going to see when we go there and bring this up a little bit and compare that to Lens Blur is that Lens Blur's just going to bring things in a little bit further. I'll zoom-in so we can actually see the details there.
There is the Gaussian, see how it extends that out a little bit. I guess I need to exaggerate this more, so you can see what I'm talking about, right. Find a nice sweet spot there and then Lens Blur just tightens that up a little bit. And let's do with More Accurate. Well More Accurate, it's kind of interesting. I'll lower my amounts here just to touch and move over to another part of the image and click on More Accurate and what you can see there. There are just little small details that are starting to be a little bit more pronounced. So we increase our Radius and our overall Amount here. We can see that More Accurate does again bring out some of those small details.
Now I did say that this is good for small details, now that's not the only time when this is really helpful. There are other times, either when you have real low amounts or real high amounts of sharpening. That this will actually bring that halo down a little bit closer. So again, keep that in mind and let's see if our combination, here is our Gaussian a little bit more diffused. Lens, a little bit more exact on the edges, kind of tricky to see. You will start to see it with your own images Okay, well zoom out a little bit. I click in the window for before, I let go for my after. We are starting to see, how our sliders work. Well, what then is appropriate sharpening for this image? We are going to turn on the Advanced options, which will give me the shadow and highlight tabs. I'm going to zero those out. I'm going to zero up my Shadow sliders as well and here is why? I want to deconstruct how they work, right. So go ahead and increase my overall Amount, my Radius. We can think of the spread.
Now how does this actually apply to images? Well, if you have a web files, it's going to be like, 0.1 or 0.2 or 0.3. You are saying I want just some real little tiny bit of sharpening. I think of that like sandpaper. Those of you who have ever worked with wood, like having that real fine sandpaper, the finished sandpaper, because you have this small little delicate file. On the other hand if you have a real high res file, give me that core stuff. I just need to-- I need to get rid of all these rough edges, right. So the radius kind of has to do with your resolution in that sense. Well I'm going to exaggerate the radius here, so we can see our before and after, okay. More Accurate, I want to click that off. I don't want as many details there and then I'm going to go into my Shadow and Highlight tabs here. I'm going to increase the amounts.
One of the things, we are going to start to see when we do that, increase the Radius, which is the reach there. We are going to start to see that we can began to remove some of the sharpening and if I take this all the way up, I'll go ahead and bring it all the way up so you can see what's happening here. I'm able to remove those halos or the sharpening almost in its entirety. So here we can see we just have a little bit of the highlight edge sharpening and we will zoom in and tab it more so you can see what I'm talking about. So there you can see I still have sharpening, when I take this off. It's then bringing back all those halos and I can then remove them this way. Now the trick with these controls is, you just want to eye it. You want to look to try to bring back some of those halos and lot of times when you do though, go ahead and bring that back even further. You then well want to go back to the Sharpening tab and then modify that one as well.
All right, well so far so good. We will zoom back to 100%, so we can actually see the real details of the image. What would be appropriate sharpening for an image like this? It's a kind of a medium res file. Well what may be good for an image like this is your amount somewhere above 100 and that's pretty typical. Typical amount is going to swing from 100 up to probably 175, somewhere in there, and then your Radius is going to be pretty low. Now because I have increased these sliders pretty high, I'm going to have a little bit higher amount and radius in this image. I'm going to click on my image to look at the before and after. Now one of the things that I know is going to happen here is in this movie, when it's compressed or when you are watching on the DVD or online, you are not going to be able to see the sharpening very well. So I'm going to go ahead and increase this, just kind of knowing that that's going to happen just a bit and also I want to do that to talk about what happens if you over sharpen.
So in my opinion, I have over sharpen this image and I'll zoom-in, perhaps this will help the view. There is my before and after, right. Those edges are glowing, doesn't look good. But I'm going to click OK to apply that and then I'm going to zoom-in on the image, so we have that nice zoomed in view and look at the before and after. Here is before and after. Well, what can I do in this case? Well, I can go ahead and click on a couple of different options. One is, I can click on the Smart Sharpen where there to reopen and modify those settings. Two, I can click on the option which allows me to apply some blending and here all I need to do is lower the Opacity and I can then remove the sharpening in its entirety or I can slowly bring that up.
And here is something else that you can do. You can click in your mask and the once your mask selected, press Command+ I on a Mac/Ctrl+I on a PC. That fills that mask with black. Now we are completely hiding or concealing the sharpening. There isn't any sharpening. Click on the Masks panel and you have this option to control the Density or intensity of that mask. Now as I change that amount, watch the mask color. Well now that mask is much more grey. We can see that in those two icons i.e. it's allowing through for more sharpening. So in this case, if I'm working with a mask, we will talk more about mask later, I can then control the overall amount of sharpening by using the slider and then again, all I need to do is look at my before and after and try to find that sweet spot.
Now when you are evaluating your sharpening, double-click your Zoom tool. You want to be at a 100%, so you can see the actual details. Now that's not always going be the case, you are going to need to zoom out a little bit sometimes, zoom-in other times, but that 100% view gives you a feel for the sharpening. In addition, a couple of things that you need to think about. One is if you are going to print this image on a velvet fine art paper or a matte paper, we are going to need a little bit more sharpening, right? Because of the dot gain. What dot gain is, think of it a few, take a permanent marker and put it on a paper towel. It's how that ink spreads into the paper towel.
Well another way of thinking of it. If you have a tea bag and if you set a tea bag on a napkin, the moisture or the water seeps into the napkin. If you set it on a table, it doesn't really go very far because it's not very porous. So on the other hand, if you are going to print on the nonporous surface like a glossy paper, there isn't a lot of dot gain. We need a little bit less sharpening, because the sharpening isn't going to be diminished quite as much. All right, well finally, when you evaluate your sharpening, your before and after. When I evaluate mine here is my before, here is my after. What I want to be thinking about here is I want to apply some sharpening so that they don't notice the sharpening. The sharpening isn't the point. The point is the photograph.
So I'm trying to keep that in mind that I'm looking for any problem areas. If I see any problem areas, I'm going to go ahead and modify this and then finally, the last thing is, typically you want to create a print, see how it looks. Look at your print at a normal viewing distance and the nice thing about the technique that we have learned here is, you can continually modify. You see that we have a ton of flexibility, either changing or sharpening amount, the overall mask or the blending. All right well, this movie was a bit longer, yet I hope you have picked up some real valuable information in this one.
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