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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.
Over the course of this chapter we're going to be sharpening two images, one is a high frequency landscape image, this one specifically in fact, which comes to us from photographer Nick Roberts of iStockphoto.com. And later we will sharpen a lower frequency portrait image. But here's the thing. When we're sharpening for output, we don't care whether the image is high frequency or low frequency or what. The content of the image be darned. All we care about is the resolution of the final output and the kind of output, whether we're going to an inkjet printer or we're going to be commercially reproducing the document or we are displaying the image on a computer screen, for example, either in presentation or on a webpage or on a kiosk, what have you. And as a result we treat landscape images and portrait images exactly the same, and you'll how well that works.
But before we begin sharpening this image for print, lets take a look at a couple of special issues where this image is concerned. You can see that I've got a layered composition going on here inside Layers palette, and I have gone ahead and sharpened this image according to its detail. So I am going go ahead and zoom in a little bit on this image here and I'll scroll down to what appears to be cabbages. Now because this is a high frequency image, I went ahead and sharpened it using the Smart Sharpen filter and I've applied high frequency settings.
If you were to double click on Smart Sharpen, you'd see I've applied an Amount value 250% and Radius value of 1 pixel, and I am removing Lens Blur. I've got More Accurate turned on. So all of those settings I've have got recommended a couple of chapters ago when we looked at sharpening for detail inside of an image. Well I am just going to go ahead and cancel out of there. I am mitigating this filter using a filter mask, an edge mask in fact, and then toward the top I'll go ahead and zoom out. You can see by the way that this is a Camera RAW Smart Object incidentally.
Then at top of the image I've made the sky blue using this Photo Filter adjustment layer. I'll go ahead and double-click on it, so that you can see it is a Photo Filter layer. I have got a Cooling Filter applied with a density 25 and so on, and I've gone ahead and assigned the adjustment layer a gradient mask, so that the blue gradually fades toward the top of the image. So I'll go ahead and cancel out of there. You can see it makes a big difference actually. This is what the image looks like originally with this brownish sky, and this is what the image looks like now thanks to this Photo Filter layer.
Now what we have is a use neutral image, that's what people call this, meaning that the destination of this image at this point is unknown and it doesn't matter, because this image is good to go to any output at this point in time. So we're just keeping all of our modifications editable and nondestructive and so on, but there are a couple of problems where this specific image is concerned. First of all, notice that while the cabbage toward the bottom of the image looks to be in very good shape, actually looks very nicely sharpened, as we move toward the top of the image and the cabbages descend into the horizon, the details get very, very tiny, and we end up resorting down to the sort of choppy pixels, as you can see here, that look like any thing but cabbages.
And what we've done at this point is we've ruined the effects of the natural anti-aliasing that prevents this kind of choppiness from happening. So we need to take care of that problem, that's one problem were going to have to address. The other problem occurs inside of the sky. I am going to Shift-click on this filter mask in order to turn it off, so that we're sharpening the sky as well as everything else, and you can see that I am bringing all kinds of noise out of that sky. There's just the ton of noise in the sky. I'll go ahead and Shift-click on this filter mask in order to turn it back on.
Thanks to the edge mask we aren't exaggerating the noise using the Smart Sharpen filter, but it's still there in force. Now I have gotten rid of some of the noise inside of Camera RAW, but we still have some more noise to get rid of. So that's what we're going to be doing in the next exercise. In fact, we're going to take care of the choppiness with the cabbage up toward the top of the image, and then in the exercise after that we'll take care of the noise, and you may feel like while we have already seen how do we address noise inside of Photoshop, well, this turns out to be a very special case, as you'll see shortly.
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