Almost every D-SLR image can improve with sharpening; some require more, some less, but nevertheless, sharpening is required. At the same time, every photography book and magazine advises you against over-sharpening. Over-sharpening causes images to go rough.
They then look ugly and tempered. In spite of this warning, there are bound to be some images – images with well-defined edges and loads of fine detail – which can stand a greater amount of sharpening. Here is a super sharpening method that will amaze you. But, heed this warning: Don’t try this on your girlfriend’s or spouse’s photo, or you’ll have to face the music on your own!
1. Open the photo (in Photoshop) that demands super sharpening. Go to Window and click on Channels. A dialog box showing Lab, Lightness, ‘a’ and ‘b’ will open (See Printscreen). We shall use this later.
2. Go to Image > Mode > Lab Colour (you won’t see any change).
3. Press Ctrl + Alt + 3 to load the Lightness channel. You’ll see some selection on your picture. Mac users, press Command + Option + 3.
4. Press Ctrl + Shift + I to invert the selection (that is the alphabet, not the numeral). If the selection (the marching ants) is disturbing, you can hide the selection by pressing Ctrl + H.
5. Now click on ‘Lightness’ channel in the Channels dialog box that you opened in Step 1. Your picture will lose its colour.
6. Go to Filter > Sharpen > Unsharp Mask. Set the Amount to 500 percent, Radius to 2 pixels, and Threshold to 1 level.
7. Apply another round of USM, but with these settings: Amount between 50 and 60 percent, Radius anywhere between 25-35 pixels, and Threshold 1 level. Click OK.
8. Go to Image > Mode > RGB Colour. (The picture will get back its colour).
9. Save the image as needed. Drool over your creation.
Note: It is possible to control the degree of final sharpening applied, but that would call for a few more steps, which are not included just to keep things as simple as possible.