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In Photoshop CS6 for Photographers, author, photographer, and teacher Chris Orwig explores Photoshop from the perspective of the photographer.
The course details the features and techniques behind enhancing and retouching photos, preparing them for print and online publishing, and much more. Chris demonstrates how to make basic edits in Camera Raw, develop and save color profiles, work with layers and selections, tone and sharpen, and retouch images while retaining their natural character.
Chris also shares some creative tips and project ideas, such as converting a photo to black-and-white and enhancing a portrait with hand-painted masks. The course also covers workflow details, such as organizing images in Bridge and Mini Bridge, optimizing Photoshop preferences, and calibrating your monitor.
Here we are going to take a look at another great way to sharpen your photographs, and that is what the Unsharp Mask Filter. We will be working with this image that I captured down at the Santa Barbara Harbor, and I like the nice vivid colors and all the different lines and details here. And what I want to do with this image is I want to make it just tack sharp so that the image really pops. So again, when working with this filter, it's a good idea to copy or duplicate that Background layer. You by now, I'm sure remember the shortcut, it's Command+J on a Mac or Ctrl+J on Windows.
Let's then name this layer usm for Unsharp Mask. Next, we will navigate to our Filter pulldown menu, and here we are going to go ahead and choose Sharpen and then select Unsharp Mask. This will open up our Unsharp Mask dialog so that we can see the detail in our photograph. Now in order to work effectively with this dialog, let's talk about the different controls that we have here. We have our Amount which is our overall intensity. Next, we have Radius which we already know, it has to do with the edges and also the glow.
As I increase this to an undesirable amount it helps us see that we have these glowing edges. Well what then does Threshold do? If you remove Threshold you see the sharpening is applied to almost the whole image. Yet, if I increase this, you can see that now it's really limited to these edges. In other words, it's kind of like Threshold backs everything off. Now that we know this how we can dial in an appropriate amount of Sharpening say for this picture? One of the ways that you can do this is you can increase your Amount to somewhere above 100, say 150 or 160, 175 something like that.
You want an over exaggerated amount. Next, you want to slowly bring up your Radius until you see that glow. You want to go a little bit too far and then bring it back. This is a pretty low resolution file, so I need to find the right spot for that. Next what I want to do is lower the Amount. You brought the Amount up just to kind of find the sweet spot for the Radius and then finally bring up your Threshold. This will soften all of those other details and also it will prevent the texture or the water from being sharpen.
So it's more focused on those edges. Well of course, you want to pan around the image, look at the different details and look at your before and after. This may be kind of difficult to see because this movie will be compressed, but if we look at these details what we should see here is just that they're really kind of snapping. It doesn't look unnatural, it doesn't look overdone. Now the overall Amount, Radius and Threshold does really depend upon your output, because what we are doing here in this chapter is output sharpening, this is our last step before we send this to the client or to the printer.
And therefore let's say we are going to print on our desktop printer. If we are using a matte or a fine art watercolor paper that's going to make the image a little bit more soft because of the characteristics of the paper. Therefore, we might sharpen this a little bit more in regards to using these various amounts. In other words, we want to appropriately sharpen this for our intended output. Therefore, as I'm showing this keep that in mind that these aren't amounts that you are going to use for every image in all situations, rather what you want to see on your monitor is something which looks really good and pleasing to your eye and not overdone.
But this image, I am going to go ahead and try to find that spot and then just click on my preview my before and after. I think that looks pretty nice. Here we will click OK to apply that amount. We can preview that again or before and after here just a little extra snap. And then the final step, as we've seen before is to change this to the Blending mode of Luminosity. That will prevent us from sharpening which exaggerates or brings out noise in the shadows or in the sky or different areas in our image.
And by doing that we have now finished off this sharpening process. We can see that image here, there it is our before and after. You want to evaluate your photograph, you also want to look away from your monitor physically and then look back. Because sometimes we could kind of convince ourselves that something looks good, and with Sharpening it's so easy to overdo it, you want to take that extra step to be careful that your photograph looks good. And if you look away and look back and realize that it's a bit overdone, well you can go ahead and just decrease that Opacity and sometimes by dialing that back it can give you that really nice amount of sharpening which is clean and crisp so that your photographs look tack sharp, so that the viewer is drawn into the content of the photograph rather than the amount of the sharpening which you've applied.
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