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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.
OK, so as you may recall the Median filter averages pixels inside of an image in order to create a heightened smoothing effect essentially and it is little bit of overkill, but you can mitigate that as you will see. Then the Dust & Scratches filter will go ahead and average the high contrast areas while leaving the low contrast areas alone. So it leaves the film grain and the digital noise, it leaves that stuff alone, while it gets rid of the details inside the image. We need something that is the opposite of Dust & Scratches where sharpening is concerned. If we are preparing the image for sharpening, we need to get rid of the low contract stuff, smooth it away, and leave the high contrast stuff intact.
And there are examples of filters like that, it is just not obvious. I am going to go ahead and cancel out of Dust & Scratches here. I am still working inside the Sammy shake.jpeg image. That is found inside the 03 Sharpen Filters Folder, because it is an image that we worked with in the last chapter as well. I am going to go up to the Filter menu and I am going to choose Blur and I am going to choose one of my least favorite commands in Photoshop, which is Smart Blur. The reason I do not like it- Now it does do what I just told you, OK. It smoothes away the low contrast details such as film grain and such as digital noise and it leaves the high contrast details, the really good details inside the image alone.
So that is good. The way it works is just nuts. So I am going to go ahead and choose the command. First of all, you can not preview the effect in a larger image window, which basically reduces its utility by a factor of twenty. I swear, because it is just not very helpful. You have to look at this tiny preview, this reduced size preview inside the dialog box. So I am going to drag it over a little bit. So that we can see Sammy's eye right there and you can see what it is doing. With a Radius value of 12 and a Threshold of 12, it is going through and averaging the information inside of the image and it is leaving- basically what it is doing, with this Threshold value, it is saying that any 2 pixels that are 12 luminance levels or less different from each other, go ahead and smooth those away and any 2 neighboring pixels that are 12 luminance levels or more different from each other, leave those differences intact.
So that is what we want and this is an averaging filter, by the way, even though it is located under the Blur menu, it is an averaging filter. So it really belongs under the Noise menu. Now you can fool around with those if you want to, but for this image, I am going to go ahead and use 12 and 12, which are the last settings that I applied. They are not the default settings. You can switch this mode to these other bizarre settings here; like Edge Only will do that and then you have Overlay Edge which mixes the two together. I will go ahead and set this back to Normal. Now High Quality, which is not the default setting, Low Quality is the default setting, my tests show that High Quality actually delivers the least desirable results and it takes the most time to pull off.
Low Quality is faster and gives you smoother results. So I am going to stick with Low Quality and then I am going to click OK. So now you can get good results out of that filter; it is not that the filter is inherently bad. What it does is not necessarily bad, just the way it is implemented is crazy. But notice it did a good thing to our image. It went ahead smoothed away all of the noise inside of the image and it left behind the good details. So if I were to follow this up with a Smart Sharpen by going up to the Filter menu and choosing Sharpen and choosing Smart Sharpen right here, we would actually get potentially a half way decent result.
Now right now I have the Amount value cranked way too high. So I am going to go ahead and take that value down to lets say 200%, things are going to look better and then I will click OK in order to accept that modification and then I might follow it up once again. I will press Ctrl+Shift+F or Command+Shift+F on the Mac to bring up the Fade command. I will change the mode to Luminosity in order to get rid of any of the weird color stuff that I was bringing out and I probably reduce the Opacity value as well to something like 50% and then click OK. So given that I really have not done anything selective to this image, I just went ahead and accepted the results of the Smart Blur Filter, which is not really so smart as we just saw.
Then I accepted the result of the Smart Sharpen Filter, this is not a bad effect. It's not great, but it is not bad. Alright so let us go back, let me show you a better command I think for this purpose. I am going to go back to History and click on Open to restore the original version of this image and then I am going to go to the Filter menu, I am going to choose Blur and I am going to choose Surface Blur. Now the reason I am showing you this filter second, because it is the better of the two. It previews the image in the background, it does all the stuff we would expect from it, but it is a blurring function, it is not an averaging function.
So it is actually based on Gaussian Blur once again. Instead of averaging neighboring pixels, it is blurring them. So I will go ahead and choose Surface Blur and once again, it is saying, go ahead and apply Gaussian Blur with this Radius value here, ten pixels in my case because that is what I have entered, to any transitions that are in this case 8 luminance levels or less different from each other. If they are 8 luminance levels or more different from each other then do not blur. So once again it is the opposite of Dust & Scratches, except it is applying Gaussian Blur instead of Median.
If you still feel like it is doing too much damage, you might take that Threshold value down a couple of clicks and I am going to take it down to about 5 luminance levels here. So a Radius value of 10, Threshold of 5; that is still some pretty major blurring for this image, but I think it is going to work out pretty well. I can preview the effect in the background and it is a simple filter and it has got a bigger preview. It is a much better function in general. I will go ahead and click OK and then I might as well go ahead and follow it up with some Smart Sharpen. Go to the Sharpen Menu, choose the Smart Sharpen command and I will apply those exact same settings as we saw before.
So an Amount value of 200, Radius value of 4, Remove Lens Blur. Lets go ahead and click OK in order to accept that modification and this, of all the effects I have shown you so far, I think this is the most successful. So just for the sake of comparison, I will go ahead and press the F12 key, which reverts the image to its original appearance on disk. So this is the unsharpened version of Sammy, with all of its noise and blurry details intact and this, if I press Ctrl+Z or Command+Z on the Mac, this is the sharpened version, thanks to a combination of Surface Blur and Smart Sharpen here inside Photoshop.
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