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Bring out your image's detail with High Pass sharpening

Added on Wednesday 27th of June 2007 02:13 am EST
 

Application:

Adobe Photoshop 7/CS/CS2

Operating Systems:

Macintosh, Microsoft Windows

 

 

Unsharp Mask is one of the most widely used Photoshop sharpening filters. But the results can be destructive to your original image and most of the time it’s a guessing game which settings to use. We’ll show you how to kick your sharpening skills up a notch and gain more control over your image sharpening with the High Pass filter.

 

To step into the realm of High Pass sharpening, we’ll:

     Tell you why High Pass sharpening beats out the Unsharp Mask option.

     Show you how to sharpen an image with the High Pass filter.

     Explain how to reduce excessive noise when you sharpen with the High Pass filter.

 

 

While most images need sharpening, if you aren’t using the right sharpening techniques you can actually do more harm than good. As shown in Figure A, proper sharpening can increase your image’s quality, but excessive sharpening can ruin an image with excess noise and saturation shifts. We’ll show you how to harness the power of the High Pass filter for crisp images and greater sharpening control.

A

 

 

Why High Pass beats Unsharp Mask

When the need to sharpen arises, many pixel pushers turn to the Unsharp Mask filter. While this filter often produces good results, the effects are permanent. Unless you make a copy of your image before you sharpen, there’s no turning back.

The High Pass filter allows a greater degree of control over your image sharpening. You never alter the original image because you run the High Pass filter on a duplicated layer of the original image. You can then choose from three different blending modes for different degrees of sharpness, and you can also adjust the layer opacity for more fine-tuned control. Plus, you can paint over portions of the filtered layer to control excess noise. Let’s explore the possibilities.

 

Throw your image a High Pass

First, we’ll show you the basic High Pass sharpening technique. For our example, we’ll use the image of the baby feet shown in Figure B. We’ll preserve the blurred background but bring out the detail in those little feet with the High Pass filter.

 

B

 

To sharpen with the High Pass filter:

1.       Launch Photoshop and open a flattened RGB image to sharpen.

2.      Drag the Background layer to the Create A New Layer button create_new located at the base of the Layers palette to duplicate the layer.

3.      Rename the Background copy layer High Pass.

4.      With the High Pass layer selected, choose Filter > Other > High Pass to display the High Pass dialog box.

5.      Set the Radius to 3, as shown in Figure C, and click OK. Your image should appear grey and embossed like our example shown in Figure D.

 

Tip: Different images require different degrees of sharpening, but a value between 1 and 3 usually works well for this technique.

 

 

C