Using High Pass Filter to Sharpen an Image in Photoshop

Sharpening in Photoshop Part One

Photoshop has many features available to us to help improve & enhance an image.  One such element is sharpening in Photoshop.  There are however a few methods to help us achieve a reasonable level of sharpening without ruining it too much.  For the first part, I will be using High Pass Filter to sharpen an image.  The image below was taken at a local rally event.  I captured motion in the wheels and some parts of the car to emphasise the speed of the vehicle.

The image I will be using for high pass filter.

What I aim to do is sharpen only the edges around the car without having to sharpen anything else.  This method is handy as I want to keep the blurred motion of the wheels as best as I can.

Convert Image into a Smart Object for Sharpening

The first thing to do is to convert this image into a smart layer.  The reason for this is to keep the sharpening effect separate from the original image by using a smart filter.

To create a smart layer, click on the icon button as shown in red highlight above.

When clicked, you will see a drop-down menu, select convert to smart image.

Select convert to smart object. It will take a little while to convert.

To find out of it has worked, there should be a smart object icon in the original layer preview image.

Smart object icon in Photoshop.

Applying High Pass Filter for Sharpening

To use high pass filter, go to filter at the top of the menu bar, then select other & click on high pass filter.

Selecting high pass filter in Photoshop.

A pop-up window will now appear with some options for you to select.  Start by sliding the radius to 0.1 pixels.

With the radius set at 0.1, you should have a grey screen similar to the one in the image.

I am now going to slide this up to 3.9, so I begin to see highlights around edges of the image.

Increase radius until you only see highlights around edges starting to appear.

Pushing radius too high will result in an image that will look ugly.

Result when the radius is set too high. Halos start appearing.

When you are happy with finding the right radius, click ok.  A new smart filter is created.

The new smart filter created from using high pass.

Changing High Pass Filter Blend Mode

We now need to change the blend for it to take effect.  There are three types that work effectively, overlay, soft light & hard light.

To select blend mode, double-click the icon in red.
To select blending option, click the button highlighted.
Selecting overlay.

To see the changes I have inserted two images below.  The first is without a high pass; the second is with a high pass with overlay.

Comparing an original on top with another using high pass below, the image is now sharper, i have also retained the motion of the wheels.

You could also use soft light or hard light if you are not happy with results from overlay.

Soft light.
Hard light.

Lowering Opacity

If you want to tone down the sharpening a little, then you can use opacity to reduce this.

Double click the icon highlighted in red, then change the opacity to your required level.

Finishing Image

When you have completed high pass filter for sharpening using Photoshop, you can flatten the image and save it before making any more changes.  Go to layer then click flatten the image.

Flattening Image.

That is it, we now have sharpened your image using high pass filter.  Thank you for reading this.  If you have anything to mention about this post, please leave a comment below.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to top