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Transcript for High Pass Sharpening Video -- Part II

Narration by Ron Bigelow

Photoshop CS4 Used in this Tutorial

In the previous video, we applied high pass sharpening to this image. However, the sharpening was just a first pass. Now, it is time to fine tune the sharpening. Let’s start off by moving in to the 100% view on the monitor. This is easily achieved by pressing Control-Alt-0 on a PC or Command-Option-0 on a Mac. Let’s move to the same general area that we viewed in the last video.

Now, we have three ways to carry out the fine tuning.

The first fine tuning involves the Opacity setting. We can adjust the opacity of the High Pass layer by dragging the Opacity pop-up slider. If the sharpening is too strong, dragging the slider to the left will decrease the amount of the sharpening. On the other hand, since the slider was already at 100%, we can not increase the sharpening amount with this adjustment. For now, I will leave the Opacity at 100%.

The second adjustment involves the Opacity and blend mode of the High Pass filter. When we applied the High Pass filter, we set the blend mode to Overlay. However, this is not the only option for the blend mode. Let’s launch the Blending Options dialogue box by double clicking the Blending Options icon on the filter. As we can see, the Overlay Blend Mode is currently selected. On the other hand, we can also use the Soft Light, Hard Light, Vivid Light, or Linear Light blend modes. The choice of the blend mode affects the intensity of the sharpening. When we change the blend mode to Soft Light, the sharpening decreases. On the other hand, when we change the blend mode to Hard Light, the sharpening increases. Changing the blend mode to Vivid Light causes another increase in the sharpening. Changing to the Linear Light Blend mode causes an even further increase in the sharpening.

In order to determine the best sharpening settings, it is necessary to play around with different combinations of the Opacity and these five blend modes. As you try different combinations, I recommend that you view the image with the monitor set at either 25% or 50%. This will give you a better idea of what the image will look like after it has been printed. My monitor works best at 50%. To zoom out to 50%, press Control – for a PC or Command – for a Mac. Do this two times.

For this image, I am going to go with the Linear Light blend mode and an Opacity of 50%. Turning the High Pass layer off and on shows the effect of the sharpening.

The third adjustment requires that we reevaluate the radius setting. We originally placed the radius at a setting of 6. However, at that time, we were using the Overlay Blend Mode. We have since changed the Blend Mode to Linear Light. Let’s, reevaluate the radius setting to see if we need to change it. Since we will be working with the radius, we should move back to the 100% view by pressing Control-Alt-0 on a PC or Command-Option-0 on a Mac. We now reopen the High Pass filter dialogue box by double clicking the High Pass filter. Increasing the radius by typing in a new radius of 8 appears to cause some loss of detail. So, we obviously do not want to increase the radius. Decreasing the radius to 4 appears to slightly increase the amount of detail. However, decreasing the radius to 2 does not increase the detail any further. Again, this might be hard to see in this video, but it is obvious on a large monitor. So, we should finalize on a radius of 4 with the Linear Light Blend Mode.

I am going to move back to the 50% view for a final evaluation. Not surprisingly, decreasing the radius has softened the sharpening somewhat. So, we should increase the Opacity of the High Pass filter to 70 to bring the sharpening back up.

Now, some of you might be wondering when to use the 100% view and when to zoom out to the 25% or 50% view. In this video, I sometimes zoomed in to the 100% view simply so that you could better see the detail in this video which does not have the resolution that you would see when working your own images. However, when working images on a full size monitor, I recommend that you move in to the 100% (or even 200%) view to view the detail up close when setting the radius. This is because you need to be able to see when the radius starts to degrade the detail. On the other hand, I recommend that you use the 25% or 50% view for selecting the Blend Mode and the Opacity. This is because these settings will give a better approximation of how the sharpening will appear in a print.

We are now done with our high pass sharpening, and we are ready to make a test print. If the sharpening is not to our liking, we can change the Radius, Opacity, or Blend mode to further fine tune the sharpening until we are pleased with the result.

That brings us to the end of this tutorial. However, before I sign off, I would like to take this opportunity to let you know that you can download a copy of the transcript for this video, view several other photography videos, and access over 100 photography articles on my website.