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Photoshop CS5 for Photographers provides comprehensive Photoshop training targeting the needs of photographers. In this course, author Chris Orwig demonstrates the fundamental skills used to enhance digital photos, including managing and correcting color, sharpening, making selections and adjustments, retouching, and printing from Photoshop. In addition to teaching the techniques that enable photographers to refine and publish their photos, the course includes live-action segments that encourage thinking photographically and shooting with Photoshop’s capabilities in mind. Exercise files are included with the course.
Let's take a look at another great sharpening filter. This one's called the Unsharpen Mask Filter. We will be working on this photograph here of this artist. I like this particular picture, because you don't really see the artist, rather you are seeing him with his work, and it's kind of a fun and expressive image. Yet I want to add a little bit of detail by sharpening it. So let's zoom into 100%, and let's do that by our shortcut. On a Mac, that's Command+ Option+0, PC, Ctrl+Alt+0.
Press the Spacebar key and click and drag to reposition, so we can view the image. Next, what we are going to do is copy that Background layer. We can do so a couple of different ways. One easy way is Command+J on a Mac, Ctrl+J on a PC. We are going to go ahead and name this one sharpen. Next, we will navigate to our Filter pulldown menu. Here we will select Sharpen and then choose Unsharp Mask. Now, the Unsharp Mask dialog is actually pretty fascinating. I am going to go ahead and reposition this a little bit so I can see a good portion of the image there.
Well, one of the things that we want to do is just take our Amount, Radius, and Threshold all the way down and first deconstruct how these sliders work. Well, we already know a little bit about Amount and Radius. Amount is overall intensity. Radius is how far out those edges extend. Here we can see it's just off-the-cuff, over-the-top, not very good sharpening, because our Radius goes out so far. What about Threshold? Well, I kind of like to think of Amount and Radius as the troublemakers. Those two are always kind of bickering. I want more Amount. I want more Radius, and you go back and forth.
Well, Threshold, I like to think of as the peacemaker. This is the one that comes along and says, hey guys, let's work things out. That kind of backs stuff off. It brings things back to normal. So let's go ahead and take a look at then how we can dial in appropriate amount of sharpening. Well, one technique that you can use, which works actually really well is to increase your Amount to something really high. Close to 200 let's say. Then you are going to bring up your Radius. You are going to bring up your Radius till just where you see the halo.
And then you are going to go ahead and lower it just a bit. You are just bringing this up so you can find the sweet spot there. Then you are going to drop your Amount back to 100. Now, of course your actual Amount and Radius is going to depend on your resolution and whatnot. This is a low-res file, so my Radius is really small. From there, I am going to use Threshold again, just to kind of make a little bit of peace between these two troublemakers up here. I will bring that up a touch. Now, to see our before and after, we can click on the image and view the before and after.
Once again, it's going to be tricky to see in this compressed movie, but here in my monitor, this particular amount looks really natural. It looks normal, and the image looks much stronger with this amount of sharpening. So let's go ahead and click OK. Next up, apply a layer blending mode of Luminosity. We can do so by selecting it here or by pressing the Move tool and then by pressing the shortcut, Shift+Option+Y on a Mac. That's Shift+Alt+Y on a PC. All right. Well, the next thing that we need to do of course is limit the sharpening to the subject.
So in this case, there are a handful of different ways we can do this. One technique would be to use the Quick Select tool, and here all that we need to do is to paint across the image. Just make sure that we have a good and decent selection of the subject, the area that we want to be a little bit more sharp. And if we make any mistakes, as I have done so here, hold down the Option key on a Mac, Alt key on a PC, and then go ahead and paint away those mistakes so that the selection does not extend out into the background. And also in between here, the street in the background, let's go ahead and remove that.
And that's looking pretty good. The foreground isn't as important here, because this is going to be a little bit sharp in this area, right? This selection down here isn't as significant. Okay. Well, so far so good. Let's then click on the Add Layer Mask icon. Now, if we do that and if we turn off our Background layer, we are going to see that for the most part this is looking really nice. But you remember that I said the foreground, it doesn't matter as much. We actually may want to soften up our mask here a little bit. Here's how we can do it. Well, go ahead and click one of our Selection tools, target the mask.
We are going to make a selection around this area of the image. Then we are going to go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur. We are just going to blur out this portion of the mask. You can see here that I am diffusing that a little bit in order to have softer edges. Or what I could do is go to Filter > Other > Maximum. What Maximum would do is it would extend this out so that there's more area surrounding this that's going to be sharpened or selected. We can of course do both of these together.
Add a little bit there with Maximum and then go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur and then diffuse that out a little bit with this Blur. Again, just so we have some of the ground sharp as well and then click OK. Well, next, we need to Deselect. We can do so by navigating to Select and choosing Deselect. Let's turn on that Background layer so we can see how this is working. As a side note, we can of course paint in this mask. So we target the mask, paint with white. I am just going to paint in here a little bit and I will go ahead and take my Opacity all the the way up and just paint in some sharpening to this area of the photograph, because this should be in our plane of focus there, nice and sharp and whatnot.
All right. Well, let's evaluate the overall before and after. Here we have it, before, and then after. Now, once again, because this sharpening is subtle, yet nonetheless, significant, you may not really be able to see the before right here and the after. So I will zoom in a little bit too far, so we can kind of see an exaggerated view of this. Here we have that before and after. Once again, before, you can see this is a little bit soft in some of these areas. After that now has more edge detail, a little bit sharper.
Now, while this particular technique is subtle, what you are going to need to do is go through this process on your own photographs, because you will soon discover that Unsharpen Mask is a phenomenal way to sharpen your photographs.
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