Sharpen Images With The High Pass Filter

Nov 22, 2011 articles, photoshop

I am going to share with you the magic of the high pass filter in Photoshop.  There are tons of articles and tutorials out there that describe how to sharpen images with the high pass filter as it is a popular technique. But what I am going to share with you is a more advanced and in depth version of the high pass filter.  If you don’t already know how to do the filter technique, duplicate your background layer, go to filters > other > high pass.  Set your radius and you are good to go. (later you will switch the blend mode to overlay, soft light, or hard light)

We will be using jewelry photography for this sample.

Photoshop High pass filter flaws

One of the biggest problems with the high pass filter is the halo effect. The second problem is color shifts at higher levels. The color shift is an easy fix. All you have to do is desaturate the layer that the high pass image is on. The quickest way to do this is to use keyboard shortcut Ctrl (or Apple) + U. This brings up Hue/Saturation, now dial back the Saturation to zero. Color shift fixed!

photoshop highpass filter desaturation

Now fixing the halo effect.

Most of the tutorials you will find on the internet or in books will tell you to use a small radius. This is good for sharpening and generally is a good sharpening technique and this method won’t create too much of an halo effect. But I have found that if you crank up the radius you can really get some better definition in certain areas. It does mean you have to do a little bit more clean up with killing the halo effect.

Take the radius up to about 30 or 40.

high pass filter radius

Now it is time to clean up that halo. There are two ways you can just sample the grey color and use a soft brush to paint on a smoother edge. Or the less destructive way is to use a layer mask.  Use a soft brush and just brush away the halo, it might make more since visually if you switch the blend mode to overlay, get a better real life effect.

Once you have the edges cleaned up switch the blend mode to soft light, overlay or hard light depending on the effect you want. And the final result is a sharp image, but more importantly we added more definition in the crystal, and hardware which using a small radius would not of done for us.

high pass tutorial