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Hi and welcome back.

I’m going to give you a quickie lesson today on sharpening soft images.

Sometimes you get an out-of-focus image.  Sometimes that softness is really cool and you just leave it for artistic reasons, but other times the soft image you shot is the final image choice of your client.  Now, you have to work on it to sharpen it for print output.

One great way to sharpen and then move forward in retouching is using the High Pass method.

Here is a screenshot of a soft headshot:

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 9.53.15 AM

To repair the softness and begin to sharpen the image, I went to Filter>Other>High Pass:

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 9.53.41 AM

When you choose the effect, you need to test a few times to see how many pixels to choose to sharpen the image.  Here I chose ten.  You can see the new layer on the layer palette on the right and the entire screen has gone gray.  This is the effect happening on the image:Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 9.53.57 AM

Here is the new layer not the left:

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 9.54.10 AM

Now go to the Blending Mode and scroll down to choose Soft Light.  This will produce a sharper image overall:

Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 9.54.20 AM

Here is the final sharpened proof ready for retouching.  I normally sharpen after I’ve retouched, but here the image needed a bit of help before beginning to soothe skin.  Screen Shot 2016-06-03 at 9.54.36 AM

Here is a before and after side-by-side:


That’s High Pass Sharpening.  This is a great way to sharpen and image before or after retouching.  Here, my client wanted this image, so I sharpened it so it looked better before heading to retouch.

Next time, I’ll show you how to soften skin using this method with a few extra steps.  It works amazingly well and allows you to selectively apply softening and sharpening at the same time.

Till next time, stay sharp!