Non-destructive sharpening in Photoshop

I am going to demonstrate a technique in photoshop that will allow you to sharpen your photos, non destructively, and control the amount of sharpening that you apply to an image by utilizing a separate layer.

Open any image in photoshop that you want to sharpen. 
-convert the flattened image to a layer.
-duplicate the layer
-with the top layer selected select ‘hard light’ from the layer options pull down menu.
(The image will look really bad at this point, on the dark side. But don’t worry. It will change here in a moment.)
-Pull down the filter menu and choose ‘other’ and select ‘high pass’
-The high pass selection window will appear. This where you have to just experiment with the slider to suit your personal taste.
-Once you are done click ‘OK.’ the layer 0 copy preview in the layer palette will look grey.
that’s OK. You have just created a sharpening layer that you can adjust by sliding the ‘opacity’ or ‘fill’ slider bars in layers palette.
-The importance of using the ‘hard light’ option is to give the most extreme, over sharpened effect so you can adjust it, making the effect more subtle with the use of the ‘opacity’ slider bar.

3 thoughts on “Non-destructive sharpening in Photoshop

  1. Thanks for posting. I remember this technique now…What do you suggest as a “general rule” for the amount in the high pass filter settings? I tried the technique and used something like ‘6’ for the value and it seemed to work pretty well.

  2. Scott, there is no general rule, except to follow your personal style/preference. With this technique every photo will process a little differently. For example, the photo I posted on our flickr group discussion today, I started with a value of ‘3’ and still lowered the layer’s opacity down 10%. If you want an even more subtle effect, try using ‘soft light.’

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