This multi-layer Photoshop sharpening technique allows for a lot of flexibility and precision
posted Tuesday, January 30, 2018 at 11:00 AM EDT
Particularly when shooting RAW images, you need to perform sharpening to your photos during processing to bring out the best in the files. However, you often don't want to sharpen your entire image the same way. For example, you typically want to sharpen the in-focus portion of your image but not the background or the sky. There many methods for selective sharpening and Nathaniel Dodson of tutvid has created a tutorial outlining one of them, which utilizes layers and smart objects.
If the idea of using multiple layers and passes of sharpening is intimidating, don't worry, it's actually very simple once you get the hang of it. The first step is to select your background image, which should be your only layer for now, and convert it to a smart object. You then duplicate this smart object layer three times, you should have four layers in total now. Start working on the topmost layer and Dodson likes to go front to back. What this means is that he sharpens the parts of the image closest to the camera first. To see his technique in action, watch the video below.