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Video:How to Sharpen Blurry Photos in Photoshop

with Matthew Hendershot

Though there is no way to repair a blurry photo, there are several tricks that can help you recover and sharpen images that contain some blur. Learn how to sharpen photos in Photoshop.See Transcript

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Transcript:How to Sharpen Blurry Photos in Photoshop

Sharpening a Blurry Photo in Adobe Photoshop CS5

Why Sharpen Photos in Photoshop?

It is an unfortunate fact that as a photographer of any skill level, you will still have to deal with the occasional photo that is going to be blurry. This is something that is more common for hobbyists of course, and even more frustrating when the blurry photo was a snapshot taken to capture a moment that for any number of reasons is unrepeatable.

While the concept of fixing a blurry photo is really more or less an impossibility after the photo is taken, there are still a few tricks that can be employed that may still be able to salvage that once in a lifetime shot.

Adjust Blurry Photos With Adobe Camera Raw

The first trick to try is to open your photo using an add-on piece of software that comes with Photoshop, the Adobe Camera RAW program. This program is intended to process images shot in the RAW format for use in Photoshop, however it’s functionality also works for the more commonly used JPEG formats. To open a photo in Adobe Camera RAW, navigate to the photo you want to try and repair inside of Adobe Bridge. Select the photo and in the file menu choose Open In Adobe Camera RAW or use the key command Command+R. Once inside Camera RAW you will see several options for making adjustments to your photo, but the controls to focus on for this purpose are the Contrast and Clarity sliders. Bring increasing the contrast of the photo and making broad adjustments to the Clarity slider, you may be able to salvage some of the edge lines that may have been lost in your blurry image. Once you have a setting that may work for you, click Open Image to open the image in Photoshop and continue editing.

High Pass Filter and Blurry Photos

Another commonly used trick for salvaging a blurry shot is the utilization of the High Pass filter.

With a blurry image open in Photoshop, make a copy of the image in a new layer by right clicking and selection Duplicate Layer. Now, with the new layer selected go to the Filters Menu > Other > High Pass Filter. The High Pass Filter scans your image for sharp changes in color information, which usually indicates an edge or line, and retains those pixels while suppressing the rest of the image. The result of that filter has a similar look to a relief drawing of the image. Adjust the threshold to find a nice result that contains the edges of your image without an excessive amount of image noise, and then apply the filter by clicking ok.

Now, you can visually merge the new edge lines you have created to the original source image by setting a composite mode for the effected image. By choosing either the Overlay, Soft Light, or Hard Light options, the lines from the filtered image will be laid onto the original image, and eliminate some of the appearance of blur. Make fine tune adjustments using the layer opacity slider until you have an image that is sharper to the eye, without taking on an unrealistic appearance.
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