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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 exercise, we are going to take a look at the best and the newest of the noise reduction functions inside the Photoshop, known appropriately as the Reduce Noise Filter and we're going to be trying this filter out on a more moderately-noised photograph. This image exhibits the kind of noise that you are likely to run into on a regular basis. So it also happens to be a professional quality image shot by a professional photographer, the Quebec-based Pascal Genest, once again of iStockphoto.com. I am calling this image Unguarded moment.jpg because she seems to be regarding us in an unguarded moment here.
I am not sure exactly what she is saying, whether she loves us or she is breaking up with us. Something very deep is going on here. This image is found inside of the 04 Support Staff folder. Now as I say, it does exhibit noise. There is noise inside of this photograph. When we are zoomed up this far up to 25%, we are not going to really see it. If I start zooming-in we will begin to see more of the skin details inside of this image, which could use a little bit of retouching here and there, although this woman is obviously fairly beautiful. But where we have the noise is down here in the shadow detail.
We are not going to really see it very well here inside the video, but I am going to zoom-in on the right side of her neck next to her collarbone here, and this is where a lot of the noise is residing down here in this particular shadow. The reason that you typically see noise in shadows or at least you are more likely to see noise in shadows than anywhere else inside of a digital photograph in particular. It's because the shadow region is compressed inside of a digital photograph, and as soon as you start drawing out this shadow, as soon as you start lightning the image, you are increasing the natural discrepancies between the neighboring pixels and you are drawing forth that noise.
You are exaggerating it effectively. Now because we are not seeing the noise very well on screen here inside the video, I am going to exaggerate it even further by applying the Smart Sharpen filter. So I am going to go up to the Filter menu, choose Sharpen and choose Smart Sharpen right here, and I am going to go ahead and apply some crazy settings. Lets raise the Amount value to 500%, I am going to leave the Radius set to 4 pixels, Remove set to Lens Blur, this is all good. I am going to leave More Accurate turned off; I am not that crazy. We're not going to turn that on for a portrait shot.
Then I am going to click OK in order to accept this modification, and you should now be able to see lots of noise inside of this shadow region here, including a lot of color noise as well. You can see how that's percolating to the top. Alright, so lets go ahead and zoom-out just a little bit here so that we can take in more of the image. You can also see how this sharpening effect is fairly detrimental to the image in general. We are drawing out all kinds of weird surface details inside of the image, we are drawing out a lot of weird color artifacting as well.
We are going to take care of that in advance, by first applying the Reduce Noise filter and then coming in with Smart Sharpen afterward. Alright, so I am going to go up here to the History palette, and I just want you to see that were going to keep that Smart Sharpen state, so we can go back and compare it later to the better version of the image that's in store for us. So I am going to press F12 in order to invoke the Revert function and then Revert is added as a history state to the History palette so that we can come back to Smart Sharpen as I say. Alright, so I just want you to see that once again, so there is no confusion.
Now lets go ahead and apply Reduce Noise. Now you get to Reduce Noise by going up to Filter menu, choosing Noise and choosing the Reduce Noise command. I have once again given this command a keyboard shortcut via the Keyboard Shortcut command under the Edit menu. The keyboard shortcut that I use for what its worth is Shift+F9, and that brings up the fairly whopping Reduce Noise dialog box right here. Now were seeing the default settings inside of this dialog box. Notice that we have four numerical options and then we also have Remove JPEG Artifact and we have the Basic and Advanced options right here which aren't quite as bad as they are with Smart Sharpen.
They still do abide if you switch from Advanced back to Basic. The reason that I don't consider them to be quite as bad is because you are rarely going to go to Advanced. The only reason to go to Advanced is if you want independent control of your smoothing on a channel-by-channel basis. So you want to apply additional smoothing to one of the channels inside the image, one or more channels. You can choose the channels right here, Red, Green, Blue, and then apply a Strength setting and you'll also have the Preserve Details option available to you which is currently dimmed. You have to have some sort of Strength assigned before Preserve Details will become available.
Anywa, we are not going to apply that right now. We are just going to go back to Basic. We also have the ability to save off the settings, but as I told you with Smart Sharpen, the way that this is implemented right now is just crazy. Basically, even though you have saved up your settings, every time you'll apply new settings, those old settings get overwritten and it's just pure and total chaos. It doesn't do me any good whatsoever. So I suggest you just ignore the top portion of the dialog box with the exception of the OK and Cancel buttons, and you pay attention to these numerical values write down here. Now Strength determines the degree to which you are smoothing over the luminance values inside the image.
So that is the lightness values as opposed to the color values. You can crank this guy as high as ten, and that will give you the maximum amount of noise removal, or you can also take it down. If you want less noise removal, you can it down to a lower setting. I am going to suggest that most of the time you want to accept the default setting of six or you want to go higher with it. I frequently max out this filter in order to get rid of the noise and I am going to go ahead and scroll down to that shadow region here just so that we can keep an eye on it. Again, its going to be a little hard to keep track of inside the video.
But I'll just tell you what's going on. So far Photoshop has pretty much nailed it. By applying a Strength value of 10, I pretty much smoothed over all of the noise inside of the shadows. Now Preserve Details tries to bring back the edges, that is the areas of highest contrast, tries to protect them from the Strength value. So the higher you go with Preserved Details, the more edges you are going to protec. The lower you go, the fewer edges you are going to protect and the more you are going to reduce noise inside the image.
Reduce Color Noise allows you to specifically address color variations between neighboring pixels as opposed to luminance variations that are addressed by Strength. So that takes care of the color right there. Then Sharpen Details will apply sharpening inside of this dialog box after these values are finished. Now I am going to tell you that I want you to reduce this value right here to 0% on a regular basis. When in doubt, set it to 0 because you are better off following up the application of Reduce Noise with a sharpening filter that gives you a lot more control than a single sharpening slider right here.
If you were to follow this up and you already had some sharpening that you'd applied down here with this option, then you would basically apply two sharpens in a row which is definitely not something I am going to recommend in this case. Then finally you have this Remove JPEG Artifact checkbox. If your image was saved with a heavy amount of JPEG compression, that is a low-quality setting, then you might start seeing little squares forming, 8x8 pixel squares forming inside the image or you might see some vertical lines or some horizontal lines at work.
If so, you can get rid of those to a certain extent by turning on the Remove JPEG Artifact checkbox. Now we don't need that for this image, we just need to focus on Strength, Preserve Details and Reduce Color Noise and we're going to do exactly that in the next exercise.
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