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Since the beginning of the photographic art form, photographers have been searching for clearer and sharper images. Now, you don't have to settle for what was captured in camera; you can perfect your photos in post-production. In this course, Chris Orwig tackles sharpening in three programs: Adobe Camera Raw, Lightroom, and Photoshop. They all have their strengths, so he shows you how to get the best results from specific sharpening challenges with each one. Chris shows you how to reduce noise and sharpen with sliders and make selective adjustments to certain areas of raw images. In Photoshop, he uses powerful filters like Unsharp Mask and Smart Sharpen to sharpen larger areas of pictures, and masking to paint in sharpening. Last, he shares two advanced techniques, one using high pass sharpening and another that limits sharpening to the edges of your images.
In this movie, we are going to go a little bit rogue. Here I want to highlight a specialized sharpening technique which will involve a few steps. We'll start off by working with Smart Sharpen in a typical, or ordinary way, then we'll turn the Smart Sharpening dialogue logic on it's head, and do something different to add some nice mid tone contrast. Then we'll explore how we can modify color, and tone as well just to finish off this project. We'll be working with this photograph of a friend Tanner here. So let's start by copying our background layer.
To do that press Cmd J on the Mac, or Ctrl J on Windows, or drag the background layer down to the new layer icon. Either way, let's click into the duplicate layer, double-click that layer name, and let's name this one Sharpen. Next, I want to zoom in to the photograph a little bit, so we can see the details better, then let's go to our Filter pull down menu, and let's start with the basics. We'll go where we've gone many times before, and that is to the Smart Sharpen dialogue, we can find that by choosing Filter, Sharpen, and then Smart Sharpen.
This first pass here, we're going to keep with the logic of what we normally do. This is a demo file, so it's a lower res file, so I know that I'm typically going to need a lower Radius. And then I'll try to kind of sneak that amount up until I find a nice level there. Want to reduce some of the noise. Click on the preview to look at your before, and then let go and you should the after. We're looking for a nice snap. Good snap to kind of brighten up the overall focus. I don't know if brighten up's the right word, but it, it feels like that.
It feels a little bit more, like it has a little more life to it. And, with this image, here again, I'm just going to make sure I'm going in a good direction. I think that's good. Next step, click OK. Again, the first step here is normal, it's the basics, we've done that before. The next step is a little bit different. What we do is we stay on this layer, we go up to the Filter menu, here we'll choose Sharpen and once again select Smart Sharpen. We're going to run this filter twice on the same layer.
So click on the Smart Sharpen option there. This will open up the dialogue. And typically we have a low Radius, but not with what we're going to do here. What we're going to do is crank the radius all the way up to its highest setting. Bring it all the way over to the right. Then we're going to define some midtone contrast by working with the amount slider. The lower the resolution, the lower the amount. The higher the res, the higher that'll be. You also will have to have a little bit of patience here because it's going to take Photoshop some time to think about what we're dong because we're really sort of bending the rules a little bit here.
We'll bring up the amount and we'll try to find a nice amount that just adds sort of a bit of that midtone kick or punch to the photograph. If you click on the image you should see there's our before. Let go and you can see the after. You see how it's bringing out a little bit more color. It's also mid tone contrast. It isn't a heavy handed adjustment, rather its this subtle snap that were looking for. This might even be a touch to high. I'll drop it down a few points. And then take a look. Give Photoshop a chance to catch up. And I think that looks pretty good. Although for demo purposes I'll bring it up higher so that you can actually see what's happening. I'm going to try and find just the right spot there. And we'll go with that. So I have my Amount at 16, my Radius all the way up. What about Noise Reduction? If you remove Noise Reduction it will intensify the effect. If you bring it up a little bit, you can protect and save some issues where you may have a little bit of issue. I think a touch of noise reduction will help this file out. After we've decided which settings work well for us, again with that high Radius, low Amount, we click OK. This then will apply those settings to the layer. Currently, if we click on and off the visibility of the layer, we'll see that we've sharpened the image. We've also added some mid-tone contrast, which brought out some color saturation. Sometimes that's a good thing, sometimes that's what you want, is to sort of make the image more vivid, and alive. Yet with this photograph, it isn't. I want to go with a really muted color palette. So I'm going to go to the Blending Mode pull down menu, and choose the option of Luminosity. When you select that for a layer, it will minimize the impact of the color. Now take a look at the before and after. See how really it's just about that mid-tone contrast and also the sharpening effect, which we applied to the image. Well, let's zoom out a little bit so we can see the whole photograph and see how this fits in to the image. because mid-tone contrast you don't necessarily need to be that close to evaluate, to see how it's improving the picture. Well now that we've done this, what I want to do is take a few more steps just to finish off this project. And here I'm going to cheat a little bit because I'm going to talk about color. I know this course is primarily focused on sharpening, but I want to talk about color here because when I use this technique I'm also always thinking about color, so let's take a few more steps. One step that we might take here is to choose a black and white adjustment. We could convert this image to black and white. Let's zoom in so you can see that, and you can see how this adjustment right here really gives us an interesting black and white image. Do you see how this has so much more of an edge? If it's too edgy, just click into the layer and then drop the opacity down, and you can find just the right spot to add that snap which will make your black and white photographs stand apart from other people's pictures. Another thing that we might try is to change the black and white adjustment layer to a Blending Mode of Soft Light, and then to lower its opacity. This is a great color technique or trick. When you have a black and white layer, and you use soft light blending, what it does is it gives you interesting contrast, muted intriguing tones. It's too heavy so I'll drop the opacity down. But again it's the combination with both of these adjustments which help us to accomplish this effect. It's not just this one, but now it's this one here as well. I'll zoom out so we can see that a little bit pulled back. And we're just creating a different look. And there isn't a right or wrong look. Rather it's about what do you want to do with the image? How do you want the photograph to feel? So here again you can see how these two layers stack up in order to give us this unique aesthetic or look. So, there you have it. Our look at another sharpening technique, which revolved around first applying Smart Sharpen in a typical way, and then breaking the rules and using that filter in a little bit of a different way. And then last but not least, I highlighted a few techniques that you may want to consider, you may want to have some fun with in regards to modifying the color and the look and the feel in your images.
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