One of the biggest drawbacks to smart filters is that all filters applied to a single layer must share a common filter mask. Fortunately, there’s a workaround. To make a long story short, you nest one smart object inside another. To keep the long story long, read the following steps, in which I’ll employ a total of four smart filters—two masked, two not—to both smooth and sharpen the detail in a photograph.
1 OPEN THE IMAGE TO BE SHARPENED
Let’s start things off with a photograph that requires sharpening. I captured this image with a Leica D-Lux 3 out the window of my car. In the course of touring the back roads of South Dakota’s Black Forest, we were suddenly surrounded by a few hundred mostly peaceful bison, and this guy in particular was close enough to touch (were I endowed with really stretchy Mr. Fantastic arms). The resulting image is soft with striated noise patterns and wandering colors. If I just set about sharpening him, I’d bring out the bad detail along with the good. Fortunately, smart objects provide a more selective if somewhat laborious approach.