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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.
Alright. We are going to end things by taking a look at how you go about sharpening for output, where a low frequency portrait shot is concerned. And the answer is it turns out to be the exact same way. You sharpen using the exact same settings and the exact same logic that we have discussed so far. But I just want to prove that it is true and I want you to see how the whole multi-pass sharpening process shakes out where a low frequency portrait shot is concerned. Actually, the image that we are going to be working with here includes both low frequency and high frequency details.
The name of the image is Facebook 2525.PSD. If man is still alive, if Facebook still survives. And you can see that she is a kind of poking us. She is giving us a little poke here if you know whats up with Facebook. In fact the name of this Smart Object is "I poke U". This image comes to us incidentally from photographer Eva Serrabassa of iStockphoto.com; beautiful image and it's beautifully sharpened I might say as well. I didnt bother to sharpen this one for source because it looked to me like it already had been sharpened for source.
So instead I decided to focus on sharpening for detail and effect where this particular image is concerned. So here is the sharpening for detail. We are going to see that I have, as I say, the "I poke U" Smart Object and then there is an Edge Mask and the Edge Mask is mitigating the behavior of this High Pass filter and if you double-click on the High Pass filter, you can see that I am using a high Radius value that's ideal for sharpening a low frequency image when we are trying to account for detail here. I am going with a very high Radius value because this is a high resolution image.
So I'll go ahead and click Cancel in order to accept that modification. You could also see that the blending option has been set to Overlay. Now I also decided that because she is a dark haired person and there is a lot of dark details going on inside of her sweater for example, then I wanted to make those edges as crisp as possible. So I went ahead and applied a pass of Density Mask sharpening and to get to that, you need to dig inside of the Smart Objects. So double click on it to open up the Smart Object which contains a second level Smart Object right here.
If you were to double click on it, you would just get the background layer. There is no Camera RAW object inside of this image. And I am going to go ahead and zoom in more closely on her and you can see that I have a radical Smart Sharpen effect going on here. An Amount value of 500% and the Radius value of 3.0 pixels, Remove is set to Lens Blur, More Accurate of course is turned off because this is the portrait shot. It results in a radical sharpening effect, way too much, which is why I have assigned a big heaping-helping of a Density Mask right here.
So it is an inverted version of the red channel of course and I have gone ahead and darkened up the shadows considerably in order to protect the areas that should be smooth, the smooth details inside the image. But notice that the hair detail, there's a lot of harsh transition is going on and inside of the asweater as well. I was worried that was going to end up creating overly harsh transitions inside of these areas. So I will show you what I did. I am just going to go ahead and Alt-click or Option-click once again on that Filter Mask, in order to display the full color image.
If you are working along with me, I want you to go ahead and apply this step as well. With the Filter Mask active, I went up to the Filter menu and I chose Blur and then I chose Gaussian Blur and I just ever so slightly softened the transitions inside of this filter mask by entering a Radius value of two pixels and then clicking OK. Notice that actually helps out the hair detail; not only does it smooth over some of the overly harsh transitions inside of the sweater, but notice this is before and this is after.
You see how the hair is brightening up, so we are actually seeing more detail inside the hair than we were seeing before. And to just give you a sense of what kind of difference the Smart Sharpen effect makes, I will go ahead and turn it off for a moment. That's the original hair. Very dark. We are not getting a lot of detail inside of the highlights. This is what the hair looks like after we sharpen it. So we are getting a lot more detail inside of the highlights inside of that hair. So it is making a big difference to the overall sharpness of this image. Again, a little farther out now at the 50% zoom level. This is without the application of the Smart Sharpen filter, modified by the density mask of course, and this is with that filter. It makes a huge contribution to the image.
We did make a change, of course; we applied the Gaussian Blur filter. So lets go ahead and close and update the Smart Object. I am going to go to the File menu and choose the Close command and Photoshop is going to ask if I want to save the changes; I would click Yes on the PC or the Save button on the Mac and then it will go ahead and update the larger composition. Just to give you a sense of what kind of contribution our change made to the overall composition, this is before and this is after. And that is just by virtue of the fact that we applied the Gaussian Blur filter.
So that is the craziness of this, is that we just applied Gaussian Blur. This is before- before we applied Gaussian Blur, we had less sharpness in this image. After we applied Gaussian Blur to the mask, we had more sharpening. The amazing irony of blurring and sharpening inside Photoshop. This is our use neutral composition. In the next exercise, we are going to prepare the image for print and then after that we are going to sharpen it both for commercial reproduction and for inkjet output. Please join me.
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