Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video Introducing Smart Sharpen, part of Photoshop CS4 for Photographers: Desktop Printing Techniques.
There are a number of different techniques that you can use in order to sharpen your photographs. In this movie, I want to begin to introduce and de-construct how you can use the Smart Sharpen filter when sharpening your photographs. Now why do I have this image up of these train tracks? Well, I like to think of traveling as a way of sharpening your senses. There is something about traveling or getting out on that train, getting out in the big wide open, that your senses become alert to different things. That's what happens a lot of times when you sharpen your photos. You notice things that you wouldn't have otherwise noticed. You are bringing the photo to life in a whole new way.
Well, I'm going to turn on this topmost layer here. It's called sharpening and I'll click on that layer in order to target it. Now one of the things that you can do in Photoshop is create a gray scale or in this case, a gray scale where I have chopped a couple of lines in it. You can then modify that gray scale and you can basically teach yourself how Photoshop really works. In this case, we are going to use this gray scale to teach ourselves how that Filter > Smart Sharpen works. So I'll navigate to our Filter pulldown menu. Now we could choose Convert for Smart Filters. That's a nice way to do this, but in order to keep things simple, I'm going to skip that and go directly to the sharpening. I'm going to choose Sharpen and then Smart Sharpen. As a side note, I'll talk about converting for smart filters in a few moments.
Well, let's go ahead and select Smart Sharpen. This will then open up the Smart Sharpen dialog. Here we are going to see we have a preview of our image. The amount of sharpening being applied and we have the background image over there. Okay, great. Well, I'm going to go ahead and increase the Amount because what you want to do is when you are teaching yourself how to do something, you need to exaggerate what you are doing. I'll then increase the Radius as well, so that we can really see the different sharpening amounts. Now we have a couple of options. We can choose Basic where we just have Amount and Radius. Then we can sharpen our image in three different ways. Gaussian Blur works a lot like Unsharpen Mask. Now when I do that, one of the things that we are going to see is we have a halo that extends pretty far out from our edges. When I go from Gaussian to Lens Blur, we are going to see that those edges are reeled in, they are much tighter. What that means is less haloing.
Now haloing is one of the worst things that can happen when you sharpen your image, because it's a dead giveaway that you have over-sharpened the file. So as you can see, the Lens Blur option, it works really well. Now what about the next option, Motion Blur? Well, this is pretty tricky. Here you can see I'm sharpening the left and the right edges. Well, what if I change the angle? Now I'm sharpening top to bottom. Well, what if I go side to side? Well, now it's a little bit of one side and a little bit of another. So one of the things that's tricky in regards to Motion Blur is you really have to know how the Camera Raw is panning, how the motion was happening in order to use that successfully.
So for the most part, you are going to be using Lens Blur. More Accurate, this is pretty interesting. Now if we check this off, we are going to see less amount of sharpening. Now if we check this on, we are going to see more. Now this creates a more accurate sharpening effect. A lot of times you will want to use this when you have little small details in your photograph. Although for the most part I typically leave this off. I find that I'm able to dial in an appropriate amount of sharpening without that option turned on. Next, I'm going to go ahead and click on the Advanced tab. Now when I do that, I all of a sudden have these Shadow and Highlight tabs beneath my Sharpen tab.
Now when I go to the Shadow tab, I'm going to go ahead and increase my Amount, Tonal Width and Radius. We can see that I'm diminishing the sharpening. When I go to the Highlight tab and increase this as well. Again, we can see that I'm decreasing the sharpening so much so that now it's completely gone. So I have completely removed the sharpening from this image. Now when I bring this back, we can see that I can bring back some of the highlight edge. I'll go ahead in the Shadow, and here we can see I'm bringing back some of that as well. Keep in mind that I'm completely over-exaggerating the sharpening amount but I'm doing that so that we can learn how this actually works.
Well, let's zoom out of this little preview for a moment, so that we can see the image in its entirety. Go back to Sharpening, increase the Amount here. Let's go to Basic, so we don't have any of the other controls up. One of the things we are seeing is that this top edge becomes darker, darker, darker, darker and darker and wider as it goes towards the corner. I'll turn on More Accurate, so we can see even a little bit more of that how it's kind of fanning out to the edge. Now when I turn that off, perhaps it is a little bit easier because it's just a black edge. Same thing here, it's a white edge that goes out, out, out and extends. Yet when it gets to this color here, which is really close to our background color, there isn't really much sharpening at all. So what's happening is this particular dialog is looking for areas of contrast. So when there is white on dark gray, well, there is a lot of sharpening. When there is black on dark gray, there is more sharpening than gray on dark gray.
Are you with me on that? So what's happening again is it's looking for these edges and it's saying, "Hey! I'm going to sharpen those edges based on the contrast." Here we can also see this, how these different rectangles are being sharpened. So again, we are not actually sharpening our image. Rather, we are creating the illusion of sharpness by trying to find contrast edges and then increasing the contrast on those edges. So in this case, it made the background darker and the foreground brighter. Here it made the foreground, or the blacker, blacker, and the background, which was gray, a little bit brighter. Again, boosting the contrast right around those edges to create or to simulate a sharpening effect.
- Implementing a color-managed workflow
- Creating color-correct prints
- Advanced image sharpening techniques
- Using typography with promo materials
- Working with print layouts and montages
- Considering paper and printer choices
- Soft-proofing to ensure stunning results
- Optimizing the print workflow
- Converting to CMYK and going to press