Limiting the Sharpening Effect with Shadows and Highlights
Often you might need to avoid sharpening brighter, darker, or both levels of detail in a shot. For that purpose, the Smart Sharpen filter provides the Shadows and Highlights controls. If they're not applicable for a specific image, you can leave the default settings as is.
The shadow and highlight regions are broadly defined as the darkest and lightest 50% of tones in the image, and each grouping contains three controls: Fade Amount, Tonal Width, and Radius. Let's take a look at these settings to see how they interact with your photo:
- Fade Amount fades the sharpening effect by a specified percentage in the tonal region you define. A 100% Fade Amount setting is the same as having applied no sharpening to the pixels in that region.
- Tonal Width defines which tones fall within the predefined Shadows and Highlights areas. The lower the Tonal Width value, the more the setting will be limited to the very darkest shadow details or the very brightest highlight details.
- Radius controls the transition between sharpened and unsharpened pixels.
Again, start by viewing at 100% magnification when you initially define the values for each control; later, check details at lower magnifications. For the example shot, the background maintained soft details well, so the only consideration was removing some of the sharpening from the bottom edge of the photo, where the grass was in shadow. This approach can make the brighter areas "pop."
In the Shadows controls, I set Fade Amount to 65% to gauge the fade effect. Next, I temporarily boosted Tonal Width to 100%, effectively fading the sharpening effect for the entire image. From there, I incrementally reduced that value (waiting a few seconds each time for the preview to update) until specific details I wanted returned to their original sharpness. I liked a value around 15%.
When you're done adjusting settings, click OK to apply the changes to your image. Figure 10 shows my values for the Shadows settings.
Figure 10 The Smart Sharpen filter's Shadows and Highlights settings can help you to limit where sharpening is applied.
When you're happy with the settings and results you've achieved, just click the OK button at the lower-right corner of the window to render your customized sharpening settings into the file. Figure 11 shows the final result.
Figure 11 The image with all Smart Sharpen settings applied.