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Tutorial by Rohirrim.
Selective sharpening is a method of only sharpening a portion of an image. The main advantage of Selective Sharpening is to minimize sharpening artifacts that occur when an image is sharpened. These artifacts are often amplified in images with lots of blue sky or with nice blurry backgrounds. For this reason it fits with bird photography very well.
This technique can also be used for portraits when you only want to sharpen the eyes for example.
Sharpen Last: Generally it is best to sharpen your image after you've done all other edits i.e. Levels, curves etc.
Create a new layer: To create a new layer above all of your edited layers press ctrl+shift+alt+e at the same time. This will create a composite image at the top of your layers.
or Duplicate your layer: If you only have one layer just click ctrl+j. This will duplicate your layer.
Sharpen your image There are many ways to sharpen an image. There are a couple of good tutorials on dgrin Basic Sharpening and USM Theory as well as Smart Sharpen etc. Try several methods and choose the one that works for you. Here I've used just basic unsharp mask.
Add a Layer Mask: Now don't panic. Layers and Layer masks only sound complicated, they really aren't too bad.
Do this by holding the alt key and clicking the Layer Mask button. This will add a "Mask" to the layer filled with black.
Layer Mask: This shows a black layer mask on the sharpened layer. Black areas of a mask are "masked" or invisible. White areas of a mask are "unmasked" or visible.
Think of the black areas as covered up with masking tape and the white areas are where you peeled the tape off.
This will hopefully make more sense once you finish the tutorial.
Choose a Soft Edged Brush; Choose a soft edge brush by clicking the brush tool ( or hit B) and then choose a "soft edged" brush. Choose an appropriate sized brush for the size of the area that you want to unmask.
Paint in the areas to be unmasked: Make sure your foreground color is white. Paint in the areas of the image to "unmask". You will see the areas that you are painting in white show up on the layer palette.
If you make a mistake and paint in too much, just make your foreground color black and re-paint the areas you need to.
Change layer opacity: If your sharpening is too sharp, change the opacity of the layer to the desired effect.
Finished Product: I hope this tutorial helps you understand this very valuable sharpening method.
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