Use A Smarter High Pass Filter to Sharpen Your Photos

Sharpening an image with a high-pass filter in Photoshop is a simple way to make the image pop. But what happens if you've sharpened your image and you decide you want to make a change? You'll likely have to delete your high-pass layer and start over. Unless, of course, you follow this tip from PiXimperfect's Unmesh Dinda

It happens all the time. You've applied your high-pass filter layer but then maybe you notice a distracting background element you want to remove or you decide to spot heal a freckle. Because the high-pass layer is not connected to your base layer, if you simply remove that element or heal that freckle on the base image, the residual image will retain "ghosts" of those elements on the high-pass layer. You have no choice but to remove the high-pass layer and redo it.

This can be frustrating and time-consuming unless you're absolutely sure you've made all of your edits before you apply the high-pass layer to sharpen your image. And, let's be honest, as photographers who are trained to see all the details to capture the perfect image, we always notice something we can change when we look at an image later on. 

That's why this tip is so helpful. By following Dinda's advice and creating a non-destructive high-pass filter, you can go back and edit your image as much as you want and the high-pass filter will adjust. And, as I usually suggest, if you create an action to apply your high-pass filter, it will become a one-step, super easy process that will quickly take your image to a new level. 

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2 Comments

Daniel Medley's picture

"But what happens if you've sharpened your image and you decide you want to make a change?"

So what? Sharpen as the last step before output. If you see that bothersome blemish afterwards, delete the HP layer, deal with the blemish and then redo the HP. That will be the best and easiest approach for the vast majority of circumstances. That's a lot easier than doing all the things he's suggesting here.

Why would one use those old sharpening methods when there are Multi Scale / Frequency sharpeners out there?

You can get miles better results using those approaches (Topaz Detail, Know-How Transfer Wow Frequency Equalizer, etc...).