Photoshop Tutorial – High Pass Filter

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As always with Photoshop, there are several methods that can be used to achieve similar results. Most images need an element of sharpening to be applied but using the obvious Unsharp Mark and the Smart Sharpen tools are not the only options available to you.

I favour the results of using the High Pass filter to sharpen up my images and, although it can be a little more time consuming, creating an ‘action’ for this makes it a once-click adjustment with excellent results every time.

Here’s a quick tutorial that outlines how it’s done

Starting Image:

Step 2: Change the blending mode of the Background Copy to ‘Hard Light’

Using the Blend Mode options on the top left of the layers panel, and change the mode of your Background Copy from Normal to Hard Light in the drop-down box. 



Step 2: Change the blending mode of the Background Copy to ‘Hard Light’

Screen Shot 2015-06-10 at 12.39.20.pngScreen Shot 2015-06-10 at 12.50.04.png

Don’t worry about the appearance at this stage, the increased saturation/contrast will right itself as we go along.

Hard Light

Step 3: Apply the ‘High Pass’ Filter

We now need to apply the High Pass filter to our Background Copy. From the Filter Menu select ‘Other’ then ‘High Pass’, which will bring up the following dialog box:

3.5 high pass

I have set the pixel radius here to 3.5, and you can see that just the edges of the petals become visible on the grey background. The amount you select here depends on your image size and, as I am working with a large image, I have selected 3.5 to achieve the result I want. If your image is smaller, you may want to adjust this down to a lower value. As you can see in the following examples, in this instance, a low value doesn’t select sufficient parts of the image, and a higher value starts to create a halo effect. Play with the settings here until you achieve the desired result. The areas you can see are the areas that ultimately will be sharpened by the filter.

I have created a Photoshop Action that can be used to speed up this process. Click on the link below to access the free download page.



Download a free PS Action

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