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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.
In this last exercise I am going to impart a fairly straightforward technique. Actually, this is very useful. Now you know that as you sharpen an image, you not only sharpen the good detail, the things like the eyes and the nostrils and the mouth and those sort of facial detail, you also sharpen bad cosmetic details, such as pores and wrinkles and pimmples and all that stuff. You end up sharpening noise, artifacts or JPEG Compression Artifacts as well that are part and parcel of the conversion from the analog world to the digital world and then you can also end up and you do actually end up sharpening arbitrary color differentiation that maybe a function of noise or maybe be a function of misalignment of luminance information between the various color channels.
Now this last item is super easy to correct. And you will hear people say that you should correct it by converting an image into LAB mode, so I am working right now on RGB. You can convert the image to LAB right here and then you could switch to the Lightness Channel sharpen, just Lightness Channel independently of all the color information and then convert the image back into RGB. that's one way to work and a lot of people swear by it. Like I have got an e-mail from people, they are just mad at me, that I am not telling people to do this. The fact of the matter is, its a silly way to work. There is no sense, I love the LAB mode, its an awesome mode for adjusting colors inside of an image, however its silly to convert to LAB, sharpen and then convert back to RGB.
It's mostly a waste of time, but you can also introduce some color problems into the image. It can potentially be a destructive conversion and to just do it for the sake of sharpening is nuts in my opinion. So I will show you a better way to work. We will just stick inside RGB. I am looking at this image. Its called Sammy Shake.jpeg that's found of course inside of the O3 Sharpen Filters folder. And I bring this image up because its so rife with noise. I am going to sharpen it, not the way I would really sharpen it. I am just going to sharpen it using Unsharp Mask just because it is the simplest approach.
So I'll go to the Filter menu, choose Sharpen and choose the Unsharp Mask Command and I am going to do something else I wouldnt normally do. I am going to take the Amount value up to the maximum 500%, so we can see all the horribleness that this is going to create here. And I will go ahead and click OK in order to accept these settings and notice that the Radius value is set to 3-Pixels, Threshold to Zero. So I'll go ahead and click OK to accept that. Now I am going to zoom in and in addition notice that in addition to sharpening things like Sammy's eye and all this good detail, once again like his eyelashes and so on, we are just bringing to life all these weird color problems that we didn't see before.
So this is the before version of the image. Looks like his skin is fairly homogeneous and his eye is fairly evenly white and then if I go ahead and redo the filter, you will see that all these colors are coming to life. We have got blues and pinks and yellows inside the eye. We have got all the kinds of colors like lavender and a sort of lilac I guess and these weird greens inside of the skin and that's because the noise is not evenly distributed inside of the various color channels. So the noise might pop up in one place inside the red channel and different place in the green channel, different place in the blue channel and because sharpening like all filtering effects and basically its just about every effect inside the Photoshop is applied on a channel by channel basis, so each channel is sharpened independently.
We are basically exaggerating the differences between neighboring pixels inside the color channels and thereby were bringing out all these weird colors. Well, the way you get rid of them, very simple is to go up to the Edit menu and choose the Fade Unsharp Mask command. Now if we are working with layers or we are working with say Smart Filters then we could do this from the Layers palette but since we were flat as we explore these filters in this chapter, I am going to choose the Fade command.
Then all I need to do is switch the mode from Normal to Luminosity, that's all there is to it and if I was working with layers I would still switch the Blend Mode to Luminosity and notice what happens is as soon as I choose Luminosity all those weird colors go away just like that. So this is before I have turned off the Preview check box, so we can see the before version. Lots of color weirdness, this is after all that stuff totally goes away and to replace by the colors we saw when we first open this image. So its another one of those perceptual items here.
Then because I have gone too far with this sharpening effect as we can well see here. I would go ahead and reduce the Opacity value to something like, lets say 50%, its more sane. Its still a little bit of over sharpening, but its more saying than a 100% and then I will go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification. So this is the overly sharp version of the image with a bunch of whacky colors inside of it and this is the after blending version and all I did was applied the Luminosity blend mode and of course rein in the Opacity value.
In the next chapter, we are going to look at what I am calling the sharpening support staff, which includes the smoothing filters the noise reduction filters and Smart Objects and Smart Filters as well.
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