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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.
Now if you have'nt guessed this already I am fairly obsessed with how the sharpening filters works inside the Photoshop and this goes way back for me. This obsession goes way back to when I first start working on the Photoshop Bible back in 1993 and I came up with the edge masking back then which has fairly caught fire over the years. Actually, I will show you how to create an edge mask in the next chapter. But fast forward several years, I had it in my head that Gaussian Blur was the grand parent of Unsharp Mask and I am guessing that came from some casual comment, an engineer at Adobe made one day.
But it lodged itself in my brain and I am sitting there, thinking, well whats the parent? What is the missing link in between? I came up with using the High Pass command in order to sharpen an image. Wrote it up inside my Photoshop CS 101 book and it's another one of those things that has become very popular. I am not sure if everybody is getting that from me because it's very possible people will come up with identical techniques and develop them independently. I am just telling you the story to make myself sound more important really, that's basically it. So let me show you how the technique works.
Now I have open Happy family.jpeg which is found inside the 03 Sharpen Filters folder. I am going to go up to the Filter menu and choose other this time around and choose High Pass. I have assigned this Filter a keyboard shortcut because I find it so very, very useful for this purpose and of course you can do the same using the Keyboard Shortcuts command under the Edit menu and that brings up this weird looking filter right here. And it's lot like Emboss in that it takes all of the non-edges in the image and turns them grey and it only keeps any resemblance of luminance differentiation in the edge areas.
But unlike Emboss, which is a directional effect and kind of a bad directional effect frankly because of the sharp edges, this one is a very good on the directional effect, so a very subtle effect. Now what's strange about it, as I said, it has one and only one option and its the Radius value just like the Radius value that's included along with Unsharp Mask and Gaussian Blur, its another Gaussian distribution radius and notice though that if I take this value higher that it seems to produce less of an effect. So we are sending few of the non-edges to grey.
Actually we are making the filter work harder, so it's going to slow down as we increase the Radius value. It just appears to produce a more subtle effect if you reduce the Radius value, it's going to operate much more quickly, but it's also going to fairly decimate the image. It's going to send just tons and tons of these non-edges to grey and just going to keep the edges in a radius of 0.8 pixel in this case. I am going to go ahead and take this Radius value up to 3 pixels for demonstrational purposes here because after all, we know that radius of 3 pixels is a very good radius for output, tends to be anyway because we know that a Radius value of 3 pixels tends to be very good for high resolution output.
So I am going to go ahead and click OK in order to accept that value. Now we need to fade away the grey non-edges and of course we can do that using the Overlay Blend mode and we will access that blend mode by going up to the Edit menu and choosing Fade High Pass or pressing Ctrl+Shift+F or Command +Shift+F on the Mac. I am going to change the mode now from Normal to Overlay and that's all I am going to do. I am not going to change the Opacity value at all at this point and you can see that we have a nice higher contrast effect. It's not super sharp, but it's slightly sharper than it was before.
Now you can choose one of the other contrast effects if you want to anything between Overlay and Hard Mix will give you an edge contrast effect. So what I am going to do because I am working here on the PC and the Mode option is sticky, I just going to arrow through them so you can see each one of them. This is Overlay. If you want something more subtle, you would advance to Soft Light and you can how it drops off ever so slightly. I will go ahead and zoom in so that we can see this more up close in personal here in the video. So this is the Overlay effect and this is the Soft Light effect, so it is a subtle difference, but you can see some of the highlights and shadows diminished there.
If you want an elevated effect that's slightly bigger than Overlay than you would go to Hard Light, which is going to give you more sizzling highlights and shadows essentially, but also you are going to have a higher chance of those highlights and shadows getting clipped. Then if you really want to elevate things you would go to Vivid Light. For example, this is a Vivid Light effect and you are going to get some crunchy edges going on in here. You can see how this texture in his beard is really showing up and we are having some other weird little details show up inside of the image, some harsh transitions.
If you want to go even farther you go to Linear Light. Now notice with Linear Light you get an elevated effect over Vivid Light. However, we don't get so much crunchiness, so we don't get those harsh transitions. They are more smooth, but of course like I say an elevated effect. This is Pin Light which is going to be one of the lesser effects, we are just keeping the darkest of the darks and lightest of the lights, everything else is completely dropping out with pin light. Then finally, we have got, and this is going to look terrible, we have got Hard Mix, which just leaves you with a total of eight colors and that's it inside the document.
So a total horrible posterization, however, if you want to work with it all you need to do is just take the Opacity value down. So notice if I take the value down to about 20, we get a nice heightened contrast effect that also happens to be very colorful. So it's increasing the saturation of the colors as well. However, what I am going to do for the sake of demonstrational purpose, so we can see how this command works, I am going to change it to Overlay, which is a when in doubt contrast blend mode inside of Photoshop. So an opacity of 100%, blend mode Overlay, click OK.
Now just to compare this, I want to show you how it compares to Unsharp Mask, which is its nearest relative because after all, Unsharp is its child. So I going to go ahead and bring up the History palate, so that we see what is going on. I want to keep this Fade High Pass fade right there. So I am going to once again go to the File menu and choose the Revert command and again this is just for demonstrational purposes. We will see better ways to work with layers and so on in future chapters. So this is the original unsharpened version of the image. Now I am going to go to the Filter menu choose Sharpen and choose Unsharp Mask.
I am going to apply an Amount value of 100%, Radius value of 3 pixels, Threshold 0, click OK. So in other words we are matching the Radius value to the Radius value that we assigned to High Pass. High Pass is analogous just by itself without doing anything. It is analogous to an amount of a 100%. I will go ahead and click OK. Just as we saw in the Gaussian Blur mimics an Amount value of a 100%. So I'll go ahead and click OK. Now lets go and compare this Unsharp Mask effect with the High Pass effect right there. I want you to keep a now eye on the details inside of this gentleman eye here.
This is the High Pass effect. Notice how the highlights inside of his eye diminished slightly and the highlights along his teeth diminished slightly as well and we have more detail inside the dark areas of his mouth. Compare that to the elevated highlights and shadows associated with Unsharp Mask. Another words what we are getting from High Pass is a more subtle application of Unsharp Mask. The High Pass is very good when combined with Overlay. Its very good about avoiding any clipping to the highlights and shadows. So its actually a better effect, its a more sturdy effect anyway than Unsharp Mask is and we will see how we can really exploit that in future chapters, but for now I just want you to know that High Pass is there and available to you, if you would like to take advantage of it.
In the next and final exercise we are going to take a look at how can we avoid sharpening color information inside of an image, using the Luminosity blend mode.
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