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Filters like Smart Sharpen and High Pass are just one half of the sharpening equation; without them, you would not be able to get much sharpening done, but with only them you would not be able to do the job very well, which is where the sharpening support staff comes in. Filters like Median, Surface Blur and Reduce Noise which allow you to smooth over digital noise, film grain, and other non edges before you hit an image with a Sharpen filter. Smart Objects, which lets you apply both Smoothing and Sharpening filters non-destructively, and Filter Masks which allow you to isolate edges and non edges to zero in on the exact portion of the image you want to modify.
Of all these features, the one that's going to make the biggest difference in terms of how you work is Smart Objects. Thanks to Smart Objects you can apply one or more filters, edit them, assign an edge mask, change the blend settings, and even turn the filters on and off and change the order in which they are applied. But Smart Objects are a little strange; they prohibit you from editing pixels directly, all the filters have to share a common mask, you can't change the results of a filter, you can't desaturate the effects of High Pass, for example, and then apply that to the original image, and they can be tragically slow.
I will show you have to work around these issues and you and Smart Objects will be best of buds in the end. But like any friends, Smart Objects have their baggage. The trick is to give back as good as you get. Here, let me show you.
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