Join Chris Orwig for an in-depth discussion in this video High-pass sharpening essentials, part of Photoshop CC for Photographers: Sharpening.
In the next few movies, we'll focus in on a specialized sharpening technique which is often referred to as High-Pass sharpening. This technique favors edges. It allows us to bring out really nice edge detail, and it works in a wide range of photographs. And the technique really involves four different steps. We'll start off by copying our background layer. Then we'll apply the filter. Then next we'll remove the color from that layer, and finally we'll apply a blending mode. Now that may sound a bit confusing, but stick with me.
Once you get through this movie, you'll be able to easily use this technique to improve your images. Well, let's begin by duplicating our background layer. Step number one, press Cmd+J on the Mac, Ctrl+J on Windows. Then, double click the layer name, and let's call this layer High Pass. Alright? Once we have duplicated the layer, we're doing that just to give us some extra bit of flexibility and also to be able to perform the blending, which we'll need to do at the end of our workflow here.
Next up will be to apply a filter. The filter that we're reaching for can be found in the Filter pulldown menu underneath Other and there it is, High Pass. If you aren't familiar with this technique, what you'll find is that when you select High Pass, you may be a little bit confused. What's going on here? Why are we using this to sharpen our photographs? Well, what this is giving us, is primarily a gray version of the photograph, it's grayscale where we have these edges which are kind of interesting.
We have a highlight and a shadow edge, as we decrease this we can see it almost looks like a metal relief print or something of the image. As we increase the radius, we'll see through to more of the original photograph, until we're going to see a lot of the picture here. What you're looking for is to choose a radius where you feel like the edges are just popping, or snapping. You don't want to go so high that it becomes blurry, or so low that you can't even see anything at all. So you're looking for that sweet spot. With this photograph, I'm going to guess, take a stab at a guess, maybe right around one and a half or so.
After you've found that spot that you think will work, maybe actually a little bit lower. I think I got a little too ambitious there I'm going to drop that down. I want to look at this in 100% view here to make sure those edges are nice and clean. And then after you found that spot, what we'll do is go ahead and click OK to apply or to render that filter to that layer. Now what's interesting about this layer, is that we have this unique view of our image but also we have some color. Let me double-click the zoom tool to zoom in, maybe go even further.
Can you see how we have all these strange sort of color edges? We need to get rid of that. And this is a step which often overlooked. So step two was to apply the filter. Step three is to desaturate, and get rid of any color issues. So you can do that by navigating to your Image pulldown menu, then choose Adjustments, and then down near the bottom, on the next dialog, click on the option to Desaturate. This just is real blanket adjustment, it just removes or kicks out any of the color perfect.
Now that we've done that, we're ready to take step number four. Step number four is going to be to choose a blending mode. Let me zoom out to 100% here I'll double click the zoom tool so we can the image at 100%, and let's start to take a look at some of our options for blending modes. If we click on the blending mode pulldown menu, we have three blending mode options we can use. Most commonly this technique is used with overlay, but we can also use soft light and hard light. All of these blending modes work well with contrast.
When we select one, the middle gray which we have in this image will disappear, so let's try Overlay. And what we'll see is it will apply a nice, clean type of sharpening effect to the photograph. Click on the eye icon and you should be able to see that before and after. What I'm hoping, maybe I'll move to this area where you can see this sand in the foreground. You can really see that snap, and come to life. How far the sharpening effect is applied, is based on that level that we applied, when we were using the High Pass filter.
It's also based on our blending mode. If we compare this to soft light, what we'll see is that soft light is much more subdued, less of an effect, it's kind of half the effect compared to overlay. On the other hand, if we choose Hard Light, you can see how this is really cranking this up, and it's really bringing out a lot of those little teeny details. There are certain photographs which you'll find will really just love a particular blending mode. Maybe you have an edgy photograph that you shot with a ring flash of a strong athlete. Well, in that situation, I think the hard light blending mode might work.
Or maybe you have a quieter image, and you just want to add a little bit to the edges, then go for soft light, or if you just want a nice snappy edge, perhaps overlay is going to be the option. Well, there it is, our before and after. Let me zoom in even a little bit closer so you can actually see the snap there. You can see how that's bringing out a lot of these nice edges in this picture. If you've gotten to the end of your workflow and you've realized, you know what, I think this is good but I really wish I had a little big of a different amount.
Well, in order to change this amount what you have to do is go back through those steps again. Unless, of course, you work with what are called smart filters. Smart filters give you that extra bit of flexibility in order to be able to customize the filter settings after the fan. So now that we've looked at the essentials, or the basics of this specialized technique, in the next movie let's talk about how we can work with this technique and apply it as a smart filter.
- Reducing luminance and color noise
- Improving details in portraits and landscapes
- Selective sharpening with the Adjustment Brush
- Sharpening with filters
- Creating sharpening presets
- Using blending modes to avoid color problems when sharpening
- Smart filtering and masking
- Edge sharpening
- Batch sharpening