There has to be at least a half dozen generally accepted methods of sharpening between Adobe Photoshop CS5 and Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3. There’s the “ordinary” way, using the Unsharp Mask (Filter/Sharpen/Unsharp Mask), but it doesn’t provide a lot of control over what’s happening to the image. You can go pretty exotic and switch to LAB Mode (Image/Mode/LAB Mode) and sharpen only the Luminance Channel (The L in LAB). You can use a High Pass Filter technique (Filter/Other/High Pass) and that’ll provide more control over the finished sharpening. One thing about every sharpening technique either already mentioned or that will be mentioned should be done on a Smart Object (Filter/Convert for Smart Filters or right click on the Layer icon and select Convert to Smart Object. – Same thing either way.) If you use Lightroom 3 you can crank up the Sharpening in the Detail Panel and control any Noise in the same panel. Very slick. One of the newest sharpening strategies I’ve seen is using the Find Edge Filter (Filter/Stylize/Find Edges) and changing the Blend Mode to CS5’s new Divide Blend Mode. That’s kind of interesting, since the edges are what you want to sharpen anyway. To find out what one step was added to the Find Edges sharpening technique to give the #D like quality of today’s image, hit the “read more”.
If sharpening is done by increasing the contrast along the edge boundaries held within an image and there’s a filter that finds the edges for us (Find Edges filter), we should be able to exploit that to get maximum detail in an image. As was said earlier, all sharpening should be done on a Smart Object to provide the maximum flexibility and adjustability. The first thing to do would be to make a composite Layer of the whole project. While the uppermost Layer as selected, use CTRL/ALT/Shift/E to make a composite Layer on top of everything else. Make a copy of that (CTRL J) and turn off the visibility (that’s for another step).
With the target Layer on make it a Smart Object. Change it to edges (Filter/Stylize/Find Edges) and change the Blend Mode to Divide. Select your sharpening Filter (Filter/Other/High Pass) and add that to the Smart Filter Layer. We’ve already applied the Divide Blend Mode, but we actually want the High Pass Filter to have a Blend Mode of Overlay (or Soft Light). To the right of the words High Pass you can see a symbol that looks like a couple balance beam focal points. Double click on that symbol. A small dialog box opens that gives options for modifying the Opacity and Blend Mode for only that filter. Change the Blend Mode to Overlay (or Soft Light) and use the Opacity sticky slider to fine tune the amount of sharpening.
To me, it gives a three dimensional feeling to the image, all done with sharpening.