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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 review the remaining functions inside the Smart Sharpen dialog box, which include those Advanced shadow and highlight adjustments and the fact that you can ostenstebly save off your settings, although that feature is essentially broken the way it is right now. And then there is the More Accurate check box, the one feature that I think is actually useful of the functions we haven't discussed so far inside that dialog box. Now I am working inside of Happy family.jpeg which is found inside of the O3 Sharpen Filters folder and I am going to go to Filter menu and choose Sharpen and choose the Smart Sharpen command to bring up of course the Smart Sharpen dialog box.
Now for the sake of demonstration, I am going to max out some values, I am going to change the Amount value to 500% and I am going to change Remove from Motion Blur to Lens Blur and I am going to leave the Radius size set to 10 pixels, which is insane if we are trying to correct the image, but I am just trying to demonstrate a few features here. So I am going to go ahead and zoom in on this woman's face and notice if you will that thanks to this radical sharpening that I've applied that we have some clips, highlights and shadows, meaning that many of the highlights have gone to flat white, so they are blown highlights, and many of the shadows have gone to flat black.
That's not really acceptable. Now this happens all the time. The fact that I have exaggerated the value makes it very obvious, but this is happening on the less obvious basis anytime you apply Unsharp Mask or Smart Sharpen or one of the other sharpening functions. That's because Photoshop is going in there and enhancing the edge contrast. So you are bound to get black and white pixels out of it. That's what this Advanced option right here is designed to avoid. So if you turn on Advanced, you will get a couple of additional panels, Shadow and Highlight.
Now they both work the same. I am going to demonstrate Highlight because it is more obvious in the case of this image. First of all, you determine how much you want to fade those highlights. So I will go ahead and change that value to 50% to fade them back 50% and notice they are still there, they are just not clipped anymore. So we went ahead and dim those highlights. Now the total Width value controls exactly what falls into the range of highlights. So currently with a value of 50% we are saying the brightest 50% of the colors inside of this image. So anything from medium gray or darker is ruled out and anything medium gray or lighter is ruled in and there is a nice soft transition between the two incidentally.
So that we don't have harsh transitions the way we did inside the Unsharp Mask dialog box with the Threshold function. But if you want to incorporate more luminance levels inside the image into the brightness range, then you go ahead, increase that all the way to 100% and you can see, now you get some very smooth transitions at this point. Now the Radius value determines how these highlights are distributed because Basically this is another one in those filters, this is a filter on top of the filter by the way that's going through in scrubbing around the pixels in order to create it's effect.
Right Now the Radius value is very lo. If you want to distribute the effect a little better and you want to bring back some of the highlights, then you would crank that Radius value up. Now the Radius value really has to be cranked; if you want to see any difference, you are really going to have to crank the heck out of it. So I want you to keep an eye on this region inside of the image along the top of her nose and I am going to change Radius value from one, the lowest value, to hundred, the highest value. Did you see that change? That was all there is to it. It's just a little bit of difference there.
Keep an eye on it once again, I am going to now change it back to one and notice how it drops back. So we are going to recover some highlights, if I raise that value gets a little brighter and the effect is more distributed and we are going to lose those highlights, they are going to flatten out if we reduce the Radius value. It is such a subtle difference, however, that if we weren't operating with this incredibly exaggerated effect you wouldn't notice it all; it is very difficult to detect. So usually you don't need to worry about this Radius value' you are just change its something like 20 and call it a day, I mean it really doesn't matter what you set it to on a practical basis.
Now here is the big problem I have with Basic versus Advanced. I like the idea and if Adobe would fix this dialog box, it could be really good, but watch what happens if I switch back to Basic. What should happen is the original values are restored, because we do not want those Advanced settings anymore, but they aren't. So the values persist, when you switch back and forth between Basic and Advanced and that means three months from Now you have decided that you do not even want to use those Advanced settings anymore, but you did changed them once upon a time, they are still operative and they are going to mess everything up.
So what I would suggest you do is not work this way, quite frankly. I would go back to Highlight, I would change this value to zero for the Dade amount, so that we are not doing anything and just go ahead and switch these guys back to their defaults 15, 1, and then I would turn on Basic again and not worry about Advanced. Since it sticks, it gets in the way and it can create a lot of problems incidentally. Now ostensibly these Settings options right here should take care of it because you could save off a bunch of settings. For example, I could call this one, by clicking on my little floppy disk icon, since God knows we all use floppy disk these days, I will go ahead and call this effect, something like Extreme and then click OK.
Now note that I still have my settings set to Default. So if I were click OK, I would change my Default settings, which is bogus. So I am going to switch this back to Extreme and that should ostensibly say 500% and ten pixels, right. So lets say I changed my Radius value to something like one and I change my amount to something like a 100%, well that's no longer Extreme. What should happen is settings should change to Custom now or something so that it doesn't overwrite the Extreme settings. This is what happens elsewhere inside Photoshop, but this feature the way it is, it's broken because if I click OK right Now I just saved over my Extreme settings, they are no longer Extreme at all.
So I'll go ahead and undo that modification to bring back my original image. I will go ahead and press Ctrl+Alt+F, or Command+ Option+F on the Mac to bring back my previous settings and notice that now Extreme is set to a 100 and radius of one. If I go to Default, it's set to 200 and Radius of 10 and Motion Blur, which are not the default settings. So unless you are incredibly vigilant about saving and then selecting and then clicking OK and never overwriting your originals, because it is very easy to do, you are going to mess up all of your settings and they are going to be of no use to you whatsoever.
I say this from personal experience, as a guy- I am the guy who just showed you how to build your own Smart Sharpen using just the Lens Blur Filter. That's how over the top I am, I am very careful about this stuff and I have ruined everything I have done. So that's not a challenge, I mean I am sure you can beat me, but I am just saying on a regular basis, it doesn't tend to be very useful. I'll tell you what's useful inside this dialog box that we havent discussed yet. So I am saying, give this is a slip, give this the slip, do not worry about trying to save your settings. And More Accurate. This can be useful, not for a portrait shot but it can be useful.
Now I am going to go ahead and set my Amount Value to something relatively high like 250%. Let us take this Radius value, let us say to 4 pixels, so we can see what we are doing and I will change Remove to Lens Blur, which would be a setting we could use for this image. It's a little high, it's a little extreme, but it would work. Now watch what happens, I'll go ahead and zoom in on the womans face once again, watch what happens if I turn on More Accurate. Now you might think More Accurate is going to create a more accurate effect. So why wouldnt you try More Accurate on? Well, that takes a little bit of additional time, but not that much time.
Here's the deal. It has nothing to do with accuracy. What its really doing is, it's applying a second layer, a second iteration of sharpening to the image. So it's actually applying a Multipass sharpening effect from the Smart Sharpen dialog box. So you are sharpening it multiple times in one operation and it's doing this using what's called a Convolution Kernel. So I am going to go ahead and turn it on, which means its a very detail orientated sharpening effect. So I am going to go ahead and turn on More Accurate and notice that its got a second level of sharpening applied, so we've got addition halos going around inside of this image.
What it is good for is sharpening very minute details, which is not what we want when we are sharpening a portrait shot. We are taking a good looking woman for example here and we are sharpening our pores and our freckles and we are making your face like essentially a lunar landscape, right, that it is blasted. That is not what we want. Now if this was a still life or it was a high frequency image with a cityscape or something along those lines, and we will see examples of that, More Accurate would be good, it would be helpful to turn it on. But where portrait shots, low frequency images are concerned, it's bad.
So in the case of this image, I would keep it the heck off, do not turn on more accurate with your portrait shots, because you would be doing terrible things to the unfortunate people in your photograph. Now I'll go ahead and click OK. Now I did say something that may have confused you or at least caused you to scratch your head a little bit. I was telling you that More Accurate applies that second pass of sharpening that's based on the Convolution Kernel. So I am going to show you what I mean by Convolution Kernel, well see what Convolution Sharpening looks like in the next exercise.
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