Sharpening with Filters
On the flip side of that, which also works hand-in-hand with that, is going to be our sharpening. So when I sharpen this, I've reduced the noise. Now I'm gonna go ahead and sharpen it. If I make a layer, a stamp above this, it's gonna take all of my noise reduction settings, smash them together with my background, and allow me to do sharpening on top of my noise reduction, and my background. Because this has Blend If in it, I'm gonna need to make a stamp above it. I don't wanna sharpen this layer. I don't wanna make a copy of the background, and put it up here and sharpen it, because then what am I doing? I'm sharpening noise that existed in this background layer. So if I Press Control or Command + Shift, Alt or Option + E, Control + Shift + E, or Command + Option + Shift + E on a Mac, your fingers turn into like a little pitchfork claw-looking thing. We're gonna call this Sharpen. I used to do a lot of different ways of sharpening. I used to do something called a High-pass Sharp, in w...
hich I still do high-pass sharpening quite often. But really now, under Filter, under Sharpen, there is a Smart Sharpen. And the new Smart Sharpen is awesome. Unsharp Mask was one of the things I used to, sounds counter-intuitive, Unsharp Mask. How would you unsharpen something? But, Unsharp Mask was something that we used to use a lot in the past. Smart Sharpen, it's relatively new, I'm not sure when Photoshop snuck it in there, but it's a really powerful tool for sharpening our images. So if we just drop down the amount, drop down the noise reduction. You see it has a noise reduction built inside this as well. Typically how this works is that the amount is how intense it's gonna be, and the radius is how many pixels around it you want to grab to increase that intensity. So if we bring your amount all the way up, look at the preview here. And we bring our radius all the way up. It's gonna be really bad. It's taking those edges. Sharpening is an illusion, really is what sharpening is. Sharpening is taking areas that are detailed in your photograph, and it's adding contrast to those details to boost them up. It's, of anything you're not actually sharpening anything. It's not like you take a knife and you sharpen that knife. What you're doing here is, you're just increasing the contrast between the lights and the darks on the details to give the illusion of sharpening, okay? It appears more sharp to us because of that. So if we drop this radius down, that's a pretty decent sharpen actually, on some of those areas. Still a little too much, we'll bring that radius down, and then bring that amount down. Down here you have shadows and highlights, where you can actually feather the amount of sharpening that's happening between those areas of highlights and shadows, which is really cool. If we bring this radius up. We'll bring it up to a really uncomfortable amount, and we look at the fade amount on the highlights, this slider is going to fade, especially in the highlight areas, where that sharpening takes place. If that fade amount is low, it's gonna be very high contrast. Look at these little, look right in here specifically. As we bring that fade amount up, see how it starts to add some tone in there, so it's not just a bright white, punchy adjustment for our sharpening. If we were to do the same thing, but look in some of our shadows, it's gonna fade that amount of sharpening into the shadows as well. Tonal Width is how far that is going to go, the higher you put that, the more of that highlight area it's going to select to allow that fade to go in. So you're looking at the highlights and shadows essentially, of those detail areas to bring in that amount of sharpening. And that is quite a bit of an amount of sharpening if we look right back in here. Again, I wouldn't likely take my radius that high anyway. But in order to see what's happening, any time you wanna see what any sliders are gonna do within Photoshop, like these ones right here. If you get this set to the perfect setting up here, and then you come down here, you're probably not gonna see a difference at all. If you do, it's gonna be very subtle, and then you're gonna ask yourself, well why would I even use these things? If it's so subtle, why would I use it? Take these settings up to their max, then come down here and start modifying these settings to see what's happening with the interaction between this set of sliders, with this set of sliders. That's always a good practice when you're doing anything in Photoshop. If you wanna see what's happening, and how it's making affect of something, bump all the sliders up to max, and then start pulling them individually and independently down to see what's happening with that one adjustment. Especially if you wanna work your way through something like Adobe Camera Raw. That's beautiful advice. So bring the Tonal Width up a little bit on our (mumbles) our shadows, that looks pretty good there. Now, look what's happening here. We reduced the noise in our shadow areas, but now it's getting really sharp. We have a noise reduction slider in here that will help us reduce the noise in those shadow areas. It's not always quite as precise as we want it to, because it's also working globally on the entire image. So it might be counter-intuitive to do that. If we drop this down, just Press Okay, and guess what we can do now? We can do Blend If on this, and protect the shadow areas from getting sharpened. Here, what did we protect? We protect the highlight areas from getting the noise reduced. Here, we can click on this, and if we Press Alt or Option. Actually, let's Turn On our Color Overlay. Go back to our Blend Options. Now we're protecting all those shadow areas from getting any of that sharpening. If we Press Alt or Option, Split and Feather This. So we get it tapered down to here, basically anything that's Magenta is gonna get that sharpening. That's the baseline that I'm setting. If I Press Alt or Option, Feather this over, now I'm allowing that sharpen to slowly transition into other areas of the photograph, while still protecting and maintaining those shadow areas that needed that noise reduction in the very beginning of all this. So if we zoom on down here, that's gonna be sharpened. We'll just Press Okay, because we can always turn that Color Overlay off. So now if we look at this image. Here's the before, here's the after on the sharpening. Before and the after with the noise reduction underneath. The sharpening is a little heavy, and that's okay. If it's heavy, just come to Opacity, and drop the opacity a little bit. Maybe you want 50% of that sharpening. Just drop that opacity a little bit, and you're good to go. I would actually prefer it to be a little bit on the heavy side, then on the light side there, because I can always come back and feather that in with Blend If. I could always use opacity to clean up that area. If I start too low and build up, it's gonna create artifacting. If I start high and work my way down, it's not gonna artifact. Because if I were to try and sharpen this again with the same sharpening settings, it's gonna look not so good. So there is the overall before, and the overall after, which you can't see anything when you're looking at this, but if we zoom in. Overall before, overall after. It's very subtle, but it's important. And when you print this, it's gonna look beautiful.