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Hi this is Elizabeth from on behalf of Pretty Presets for Lightroom and Adobe Camera Raw. And today we are going to be talking about sharpening in Lightroom.

Here we are in Lightroom 3 and just in case you’re wondering ‘ why does that look different than my Lightroom’ I’m just wanted to point out that I’ve collapsed some of the panels surrounding this image just so we could pay closer attention to the image with less distraction and the way you do that in Lightroom is, this is how it normally looks there’s  also a panel here on the left, all you do is click these little panels and they collapse down so we can focus better on our image.

Today we are going to be talking about sharpening. I have here an image which is almost straight out of camera, completely unedited, except for the fact just so you know; I’ve softened her skin a little bit and taken out some little freckles, just so we can focus better on her sharpening. And I’m just a little bit if a retouching junkie and I couldn’t help myself. So this is before and this is after, but this image is pretty much completely untouched other than that there has been no sharpening taking place.

So I’m going to discuss these four different sliders here for sharpening in Lightroom 3. Lightroom 3 has a very powerful sharpening resource within it. But it’s very important to understand what the different sliders do so that you can get the results that you want and be in total control of your image.

So the first slider is the amount slider, and it’s the most basic slider. The more you move it to the right, the more amount of sharpening your adding. The more you move it to the left and the value is zero, your adding zero sharpening to this image. By default it’s somewhere around here as we just saw, and right here is a little swatch to show you your image at 100% for those of us who love pixel peeping. This helps us keep an eye on the image at 100% and just have a better idea of the idea of the results that were getting form moving these sharpening sliders.

When you hold the alt key and slide any of these sliders you’re going to get a result something like this. So when you hold the alt key and the amount slider it turns the photo into grey scale so you don’t have any distractions from colours in the image, you can just see it for what it is and you can better see the results that you’re getting whilst sharpening your image. So as we move this scale to the right we can see that it’s becoming more and more and more sharp. I like to pay attention to the eyes if it’s a portrait that gives me a better idea of how the sharpening’s going. And all the way to the left is a little sharpening. So, more sharpening and less sharping.

Be careful over here as the slider begins to turn red, this is letting you know that you’re going into a danger zone, danger territory. You don’t really need to sharpen that much. If you go all the way up there then you’re over sharpening your image and you’re going to introduce grain and all sorts of stuff you don’t want. So release your mouse and your key and it goes back to colour

The radius slider. This is how far outside of your edges that Lightroom is going to be applying the sharpening. So for example right now we have it at a value of 1. That means it’s going to be taking the sharpening 1 pixel outside of your edges. If we move all the way up here to 3, it’s taking the sharpening 3 pixels outside of our edges. Unless you have any specific reason for changing that, a value of 1 is perfectly suitable. But again I will show you what happens when you hold the alt key and you move the radius slider, you can see right here it is going 1 pixel outside of the edges and as you move it to the right it comes a little bit more defined. That’s 3 pixels outside of your edges.

The next slider is called the detail slider. And it’s how much high frequency information is being sharpened in your image, so basically the lower values sharpen edges and remove blur, the higher up you go on the scale the higher up you slide it to the right, the more and more it’s going to make textures pronounced, if your image is highly textured, which this image isn’t. This brick over here is part of the background its blurred, over here on the right is some textures brick but it’s not the main point on our photo. The mains points on our photo is Emily here, her eyes, her shiny lips, her beautifully texturized sweater, but again it’s not the main focus of our photo, we don’t want it to be enhanced texture necessarily. But when you hold down the alt key and you move this detail slider, again you can see very very subtle changes to this image because if course Lightroom is very smart and it knows there really isn’t that much texture in this image so it’s not really having a profound effect on the image.

Now my absolutely favourite slider here is the masking slider. And what the masking does is it adds an edge mask to your sharpening image. So it controls an edge mask with the setting of zero, everything in your image is receiving the same amount of sharpening. But as you move it up the scale, closer to a 100 the sharpening is becoming mostly restricted to the areas nearest to the strongest edges of the photo. Now hold down the alt key and start to click here and you’ll see that the whole image is white that means the entire image is being sharpened. As you move it up you can see some darker, some black is being introduced. This is letting you know its deciding not to sharpen those areas. So for example, being this is a portrait, she got nice soft skin, and I even added a bit more softening, we don’t want to be sharpening her skin, we don’t want to be adding any grain. We want her skin to be soft because it is a portrait. And so we don’t want to sharpen the entire image, we just want to sharpen the edges. So the more and more you take this to the right, the more and more you can see that Lightroom is just sharpening the edges on the photo. So keeping it right here in the middle is pretty good. Her skin is going to stay nice and smooth, the background is going to stay nice and smooth, but her sweater, her hair, her eyes, her lips were seeing a really nice amount of sharpening.

There’s one other way that you can introduce sharpness to an image and that’s using the adjustment brush. If you haven’t seen the video that pretty presets have already published a few weeks ago talking about using the adjustment brush, do watch that it’s a complete everything you need to know about editing your photo using the adjustment brush. So I’m not really going to cover that today but I am going to talk about the fact briefly that you can just add some sharpness, you can brush some sharpness on in areas where you want it. You can restrict you sharpening to one particular area on a photo instead of sharpening the whole thing like we’ve just done using the sharpening panel.

Just a little note, this dot right here represents the area where I softened her skin earlier. Just in case you not familiar with the brush and you don’t know what that is.

So we have sharpness here. The only thing you can do is add more or add less. There’s no way to control the sharpening that your painting on as much as you seen me be able to control it down in the sharpening panel. But this is rally useful if you want to do something like paint a little bit of sharpness just onto someone eyes, and you don’t want to go through sharpening the whole image. If you just wanted to paint it on the eyes and lips and leave everything else as it is then you can do that this with this brush tool.

So that’s sharpening in Lightroom 3 with Elizabeth Halford and Pretty Presets. You can visit them online here.  This has been Elizabeth from, thank you so much for watching.

Elizabeth Halford is a professional photographer and blogger. She gives real photography advice in real.plain.english.