Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Sharpening action-camera images for print, part of Editing GoPro HERO Photos and Videos with Lightroom and Photoshop.
- Sharpening is an important step that typically happens towards the end of your post production cycle. What we wanna do here is really bring things out and add detail. By sharpening, we can improve the overall details of the edges. Now, oftentimes I'll combine sharpening with some clarity for selective contrast but they really are separate steps. Let's explore how to get our images looking their best before we print. For the most control in sharpening I'll hand off from Lightroom into Photoshop.
Let's select an image and press cmd + e. We'll work with this one here and I'll choose to Edit a Copy so any Lightroom adjustments get handed off. Once I'm in Photoshop, it's just a matter of working with the image. Typically, I like to zoom in to a fifty percent or one hundred percent to really get a good idea of what's happening. I recommend duplicating the image and consider making one of these a smart object. This'll allow you to work non-destructively.
From the Filter menu you'll find the Sharpen category. In this case, there are lots of options. Unsharp Mask tends to be quite popular but sometimes with GoPros I'll also do a little bit of shake reduction first. You can mark out the area, let it analyze, and eventually the preview will draw in at full quality. If you want, you could pop this out and make it an interactive window that you roll over.
When you release, it'll redraw. This allows you to balance the smoothing as well as removing some of the JPEG artifacts. Now, in this particular image it's not looking like there's a lot of movement so I can actually bypass this. But with many of your action photos this extra step of shake reduction is a good idea. Let's cancel that and instead move directly into the Unsharp Mask command.
This allows you to adjust the amount. And you see that it attempts to refine the image then the radius sets how aggressive it is. And as you start to make that change you see it really starts to bring out the detail. But Threshold will really back things off. Now, for me, I actually prefer to use this in the Camera RAW filter where it's a bit more interactive. So, I'll choose Filter, Camera RAW.
From the Sharpening tab, crank up the Amount slider. Then hold down the opt or the alt key as you adjust the Radius and the Masking. The Masking is important so you're only going after the edge details rather than everything. In this case, I'm sharpening the edge of the clouds and the major rock formations. I could then balance out the Detail and the Amount, and while I'm at it, reduce the noise.
Opt or alt + dragging is a good idea here as well. You can now zoom in to a hundred percent to take a look and get idea of how aggressive you've been. Consider backing off the Noise reduction if too much is pulled out. And of course, you could balance out the amount of Sharpening, the Radius, and the Masking, and you can see a big difference there as we dial in with the mask.
That's pretty good there. Pull that out and click OK to apply the change. Because I made a duplicate image it's very easy to toggle this on and off. And you can see that the sharpening did a nice job of bringing out some of the details in the rocky texture. Additionally, while you were in the Camera RAW dialogue you might consider revisiting that first tab and playing a bit with clarity. Clarity is selective contrast but it too does a nice job of bringing out image details.
That looks pretty good. Let's just recover the Highlights using that opt or alt + drag trick to see 'em. Looks pretty good. Lift the Shadows just a little bit and fill in the image. Now, if we toggle between the two states you could see that the Sharpening and the Clarity really went a long way. Those two changes to my image have made it much more ready for print. I am seeing just a little bit of clipping here but fortunately a smart filter makes it easy to paint.
You could just click on the mask and grab your paintbrush tool and then using your paintbrush, paint back to mix the detail. If needed, just make it a nice soft brush and you could paint in that area to create a gentle transition and then flip back to white and start to paint in with a lower opacity using gentle strokes to build 'em up and you can mix those exposures together.
All right, looks pretty good. Before and after. Definitely improvement in the texture making it more ready for print.
Author Rich Harrington starts with the basics: importing and organizing photos, correcting distortion, adjusting color and exposure, and getting ready for print. He then moves on to working with video: developing color and exposure with adjustment layers and presets, and then rendering out the adjustments for editing in another application. He wraps things up with a short, fun tutorial on assembling a time-lapse sequence. Start watching and learn the skills you need to get the best-looking footage from the GoPro and other action cameras.
- Importing and organizing stills and video
- Correcting lens distortion
- Repairing color, contrast, and compression artifacts
- Improving exposure
- Boosting saturation and vibrance
- Sharpening and cropping
- Assembling panoramas
- Merging HDR images
- Building time-lapse sequences