Here’s a quick, easy way to enhance the look of any photo, especially ones that are just slightly out of focus.  It uses the High Pass filter in Photoshop and Elements.

The what?

Yeah, The High Pass filter.  It’s one of the lesser known filters hidden under the menus but is it ever a lifesaver for these slightly soft pictures.  Here’s how to use it:

Open your image in Photoshop or Elements.  As you can see from our kitty picture, it’s cute but just ever so slightly soft.


Duplicate the layer by hitting Ctrl-J or dragging your layer to the copy icon at the bottom of the layers palette.

Go to Filter – Other – High Pass and you get this: (path is the same in both Photoshop and Elements)


Set the radius to about 5 and hit okay.

Now here’s the magic.  Go to the layer palette and set the blending mode to either soft light for a subtle sharpening or hard light for a more dramatic one.


What a difference that makes!high-pass-filter-compare-1000x

(Click to enlarge and really see the difference)

Now to really boost the enhancement, you can duplicate the top layer (the one set to hard light) and set it to hard or soft light.

And that’s it!  It’s easy, fast and really makes a huge difference in those “less than purrfect” pictures!

What do you think – leave a comment if you’ve heard of this one before or find it useful.

BONUS – I liked this technique so much I made a video to show how to do it too!

Stan White at Scrappers Workshop

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About the author

Stan brings to the site a long career in the photo industry from working as a professional photographer to 13 years with Kodak to his present position asDirector or Marketing with Advanced Photographic Solutions color lab.Having spent all his adult life in the photo industry, Stan discovered the wild world of digiscrap through wife Jenn (better known as ScrapKitty Design). Even 12 years of teaching Photoshop and digital imaging to photographers didn't prepare him for the wild and wooly world of digi-crops, so he sticks to teaching classes and writing about photography and PS/PSE on their blog Stan and Jenn are transplanted Yankees in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, and would not live in lake effect snow again if you paid them.


  1. […] soft pictures A quick little tip to use the high pass filter to enhance soft pictures. Thanks for taking a look! __________________ Stan White please visit our blog and […]

  2. […] those out of focus pictures better Just posted a Quick Tip Tuesday on how to use the high pass filter to enhance soft pictures. It's easy, fast, and gives great results for those less than perfect shots. I did a video tutorial […]

  3. […] the High pass filter to enhance soft pictures Here's a Photoshop and Elements tip on how to use the high pass filter to enhance soft pictures. It's fast, easy and the results are great. I did a video tutorial for it too! […]

  4. Laser says:

    Always wondered what the high pass filter was all about. I will be using this tip for sure. Thanks so much

  5. Sandy L says:

    Thank you Stan. I’m hopeless about exploring Photoshop. I’ve played around a bit with High Pass, but I had no clue. Now I do. You ROCK!

  6. Zanne says:

    Thanks… I’ll have to give this a go!

  7. […] How to enhance out-of-focus pictures from Scrappers’ Workshop […]

  8. Debbie says:

    I just used this tip and WOW what a difference it makes. Thanks so much for sharing 🙂

  9. Mary(Catlady) says:

    Wow I love it!!!!! Thank you. I tried it and Love it!!!! Thanks so much. You guys are awesome!!

  10. Cindy(cindylou) says:

    Wow, I can’t wait to go try this one out!! Thank you!

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