Sharpening Images in Photoshop with the High Pass Filter

Although Photoshop does have a Sharpen filter, better results can be obtained using the High Pass filter, and you have the control over how much or how little you sharpen your image. In this quick tip I will show you how to sharpen all or some of your image.

Sharpening Images in Photoshop with the High Pass Filter

Image from

Step 1

Open the image and duplicate the background layer.

Change the layer mode to Overlay – this will increase the contrast greatly, but that will be corrected in the next step.

Step 2

Filter>Other>High Pass

With the High Pass settings window open, make sure you have the Preview box checked so you can see the results.

It depends on the size of your image, the amount of sharpening required and the final effect required as to how much or how little you apply with the slider.

For this image, at full size you will get a good result applying 2.0 pixels, but if you reduce the size as I have to 580px wide, you will need to apply around 4.0 pixels.

Before Sharpening

After Sharpening

Final Words

You can also apply a layer mask to your High Pass layer so that you sharpen selectively. In the image below, the houses and flowers in the foreground were quite sharp enough, so I used the High Pass filter, added a layer mask and masked out everything except the sea and mountains in the background.

Selective High Pass Sharpening

I hope this quick tip helps you with your photography post-processing for your future projects.


I love using and learning Photoshop, and I also enjoy creating resources to share with the world. I am at my happiest when I have free time to further explore all that Photoshop has to offer and learn more about its powerful built-in tools. I hope people enjoy either using or learning from my free resources, and welcome any hints and tips - and of course, if you would like to offer a free resource on this site, please don't hesitate to contact me (top right of the page).

1 Comment

David Ngugi

about 5 years ago

Great tip...thanks


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