Coming Soon -- Ron's New eBook

Comprehensive Guide to

Mastering Digital Photography

Check It Out!

 

Follow Ron on Twitter

Transcript for Smart Objects -- Part V Video

Transcript by Ron Bigelow

www.ronbigelow.com

Photoshop CS4 Used in this Tutorial

Now, it is time to get into one of the biggest advantages of Smart Objects and that is Smart Filters. Smart Filters are the same filters that you have used in the past. Filters such as Unsharp Mask, Gaussian Blur, High Pass, Median, and Emboss. So, if we have had these filters for a long time, what’s the big deal? Well, when applied as Smart Filters, the filters are nondestructive. In addition, we can make changes to the filters at any time. For example, with Unsharp Mask, you can go back and change the radius setting at any point during the editing. This is not possible without Smart Filters. So, why don’t we apply some Smart Filters?

Here we have a photo of some desert ruins. At this point, I would like to sharpen the image prior to printing. Actually, I want to use a sharpening procedure that uses two filters. First, the Unsharp Mask filter is applied. Then, the High Pass filter is applied.

Lucky for us, applying Smart Filters is pretty easy. In this case, the Background layer is not a Smart Object, so we need to turn it into a Smart Object by choosing Layer/Smart Objects/Convert to Smart Object. We can now apply filters. For this image, we will apply the Unsharp Mask filter by choosing Filter/Sharpen/Unsharp Mask.

Let’s go with an Amount of 250. For the Radius, in order to demonstrate the power of Smart Filters, I am going to apply a Radius that is way too large. I will go with a radius of 4.0. We will leave the Threshold at 0.0.

After clicking OK, we can see that we now have the Unsharp Mask Smart Filter below the image layer.

Now, let’s move in to 50% on the monitor by pressing Control+ three times on a PC or Command+ three times on a Mac. Now that I have a closer look at this image, I am not very impressed with this sharpening. Quite frankly, the image is significantly oversharpened. The first thing that I suspect is that the radius setting is too large. Now, in the days before Smart Objects, there wouldn't be anything that we could do about the radius setting except undo the sharpening or delete the sharpening layer and start over again. Fortunately for us, we are using Smart Filters, so all we need to do is click the Unsharp Mask filter and change the radius setting. I think that a radius setting of 1.5 will work better with this image.

That looks better, but I am still not completely happy. There are a couple of changes that I would like to make. First, I am concerned with color changes that might have occurred as a result of applying Unsharp Mask. Second, I would like to reduce the sharpening even more than we have already done when we decreased the radius. In other words, I need to change the Blend mode and the Opacity. For this, all we need to do is launch the Blending Options dialogue box by clicking the Blending Options icon on the filter. This brings up the Blending Options dialogue box. Changing the Blend Mode to Luminosity and reducing the Opacity to 50% will do the job.

That worked well for one filter, but what happens if we need more than one filter? In fact, that is the case here. We need to add a High Pass filter. No problem, we can add as many filters as we want. We simply add another filter just like we did the first one. In this case, we will choose Filter/Other/High Pass. Up comes the High Pass filter dialogue box.

Now, I realize that our photo looks very funny at this point. It is all grayed out. We will fix that in a moment. For now, let’s set the radius to 2.0 and close the dialogue box.

The Layers Panel now shows the High Pass filter. To get rid of all that gray, the Blend Mode needs to be changed. Well, we already know how to change the Blend Mode. Double clicking the Blending Options icon brings up the Blending Options dialogue box. The Blend Mode needs to be changed to Overlay like this. Closing the dialogue box brings us back to our image.

Now that the High Pass filter has been applied, the image looks oversharpened again. Let’s reduce the Unsharp Mask Amount. Oh-oh, we got a warning. What is this warning telling us? It is warning us about a peculiarity of Smart Filters. If you double click on the top filter in the filter stack and make changes, the screen will preview what the image looks like with all of the filters applied. On the other hand, if you double click on any of the lower filters and make changes, the screen will preview what the image looks like with just that filter and any lower filters applied. The effects of the higher filters will not be previewed.

In this particular case, the screen will preview the image with the Unsharp Mask Filter applied. The effects of the High Pass filter will not be seen. To see the effects of all the filters, we will need to close this filter. So, back to our Unsharp Mask filter, I am going to decrease the amount to 150 by typing in 150. In addition, let’s reduce the sharpening even more by reducing the Opacity of the High Pass filter to 50%.

At this point, I would like for you to notice that the High Pass filter is above the Unsharp Mask filter. This shows that the Unsharp Mask filter is being applied first; then, the High Pass filter is applied. This is the way it should be for this sharpening procedure. However, if we wanted to change the order of the filters, we could just grab one of the filters and drag it like this. Now, the High Pass filter is being applied first. Then again, this is not what we want, so this move can be undone by pressing Control+Z on a PC or Command+Z on a Mac.

There is just one more concern that I have with the sharpening. Clouds are supposed to be fluffy. Consequently, I do not want the clouds sharpened. So, we need to apply a mask to the sky. This will prevent the clouds from being sharpened. Let’s start by zooming out by pressing Control+0 on a PC or Command+0 on a Mac.

To save us some time, I have already prepared a mask for the sky. We can call up the mask by choosing Select/Load Selection.  We want the Sky selection.

All we need to do now is click on the Smart Filters Mask and press Control+Backspace on a PC or Command+Delete on a Mac. Then, we can get rid of the selection by pressing Control+D on a PC or Command+D on a Mac. We now have a mask that is being applied to just the filters.

Be sure to keep in mind that this mask only affects the filters and not the layer to which the filters are applied. We can apply a separate mask to the layer if we so desire. We will cover that later in this video series.

At this point, you might be wondering about adjustment layers and layer effects and how they integrate with Smart Objects. We’ll get into that in the next video.