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Smarter Sharpening in Photoshop using Adobe Camera Raw


Sharpening in Photoshop has traditionally involved a compromise between applying it to the places in the image that you want to sharpen and avoiding those that you don’t want affected. Both Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw have always had a much better sharpening tool which not only lets you see what you are doing more clearly, but also includes a very smart mask that lets you limit sharpening to detail areas.

In Photoshop Creative Cloud a Camera Raw filter was added. This opens up a world of possibilities for sharpening images better and more easily and at the completion of your Photoshop editing workflow.

So now, in Photoshop CC as you can do in Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw, you can take advantage of this better sharpening tool. So you can sharpen a photo of a building and apply the effect to the building but not to the sky above it. This is important because blue sky is typically an area of flat color which may contain noise that you certainly don’t want to sharpen and make even more obvious!

In the video below I show you how to sharpen an image from inside Photoshop CC using the new Camera Raw filter.

Before you do this, if your image contains layers, you need to create a flattened version of the image to sharpen it. To do this, select all the layers in the image and choose Filter > Convert for Smart Filters so you are operating on the entire image. Alternately, click the topmost layer of the image and press Shift + Control +Alt +E (Shift + Command + Option + E on the Mac) to make a new layer containing a flattened version of the photo. Lastly, convert that to a Smart Filter and you’re ready to go:

Do you have any other sharpening tips?

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Helen Bradley
Helen Bradley

is a Lifestyle journalist who divides her time between the real and digital worlds, picking the best from both. She writes and produces video instruction for Photoshop and digital photography for magazines and online providers world wide. She has also written four books on photo crafts and blogs at Projectwoman.com.

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