How to Make Your Photos Sharper Using Photoshop

One of the most common mistakes when taking a photo is that it looks blurry. This is because you moved, the object moved, or the camera did not focus correctly.

Don’t worry. Depending on the level of blur involved, this is something that can be fixed. All you need is Adobe Photoshop. Here’s how to make your photos sharper with Photoshop.

Step 1: open your photo

Screenshot showing a photo open in Photoshop
How to Make Your Photos Sharper Using Photoshop

Photoshop has many differences from Lightroom, but one similarity between the two is how you should approach sharpening your images. Any changes you make should be subtle. If a photo is so blurry that you can’t make out either shape, it probably can’t be fixed.

However, if you have a photo that is still noticeable but blurry around the edges, then it’s a good candidate for enhancement.

In this tutorial, we will show you how to use the smart sharpening tool. First, you’ll need to open your image in Photoshop or import it if you haven’t already.

Screenshot of Photoshop's smart sharpen tool
How to Make Your Photos Sharper Using Photoshop

After that, go to Filter; you will see this in the top toolbar. When the dropdown menu appears, select Sharpen > smart sharpening.

when you click smart sharpening, a new window will appear. It may seem small at first, but you can drag the corners to expand it.

Screenshot of Photoshop's smart sharpening features
How to Make Your Photos Sharper Using Photoshop

Along the right side of the smart sharpening window, you will see your settings. At the top is the Advance window check box, which must be checked.

Next is the preset menu, its general configuration and its Darkness Y Reflexes. Let’s take a look at all these categories.

PS Preset Tool in Smart Sharpen
How to Make Your Photos Sharper Using Photoshop

you will see preset menu at the top of the settings. This is where you can load a sharpening preset, save a preset, or create a custom one.

One interesting thing to note is that Photoshop automatically sets it up for Flaw if you have not used this tool before. The moment you start to change the settings, it will change your preset to Custom.

Step 4: Your General Functions

Different tools in Photoshop Screenshot
How to Make Your Photos Sharper Using Photoshop

After you are done with your preset menu, it’s time to move down and explore its general settings. This is where you can adjust the sharpness of your image. When you sharpen an image, the contrast between image elements increases. Below is a brief explanation of the most important features:

  • Amount means the overall sharpening you have applied to your image. The higher the percentage, the sharper it will be.
  • Radio is the area around the sharp edge that will be affected. The higher the percentage, the larger the affected area.
  • Reduce noise helps you reduce image artifacts in your image.

All three options are great. However, if you increase this setting too much, your image may start to look jagged or pixelated due to the high contrast. When this happens, it’s best to lower these settings to add back some blur.

At the bottom of this setting, you will see a dropdown called Remove. In this menu, you can choose to remove three different types of blur that may be affecting your image.

  • A Gaussian blur comes from a general blurry image. This could be affecting your image if it was taken at dusk, for example, when visibility was poor.
  • Lens blur occurs when you have moved, but the object has not.
  • Motion blur it occurs when the object in your images was moving. If you choose to remove Motion blur, you’ll see the little circular “dial” next to it turn on. This dial allows you to change the motion blur removal direction.

Step 5: Shadows and lights

Screenshot of Photoshop Shadows Highlights Smart Sharpen
How to Make Your Photos Sharper Using Photoshop

In your general settings, you will see your Darkness section. This section works in the same way as the area above, but unlike the general settings, it focuses specifically on the dark areas of the image.

Experiment with these settings and see what works best for you. Each image will have a slightly different level of blur, so the settings we require to calibrate our photo may be different than yours.

Under the Darkness section, you will see Reflexes. This section works the same as the other two, but focuses on the brightest areas of your image.

Step 6 – Save Your Preset and Check Your Work

A good way to check the changes in the Smart Sharpen window, before applying them, is to click and hold on the image in the preview window. Drag it a bit. When you do, Photoshop will show you what your images looked like before you applied the changes.

Release the trackpad or mouse and it will make the new changes. If you’re happy with the look of your image, you can tap OK and apply the settings immediately. You can also choose to save the settings first.

To save the settings as a preset, go back to your preset drop down menu and choose save preset.

Save Photoshop Screenshot Preset
How to Make Your Photos Sharper Using Photoshop

Once this is done, click on OK. Photoshop will apply the changes and exit the Smart Sharpen window. When you return to your main workspace, you’ll see your image with the changes applied.

If you don’t like the changes you’ve made to your image, that’s absolutely fine. just go to File, Archive > Undo smart sharpening to undo the changes you have made.

Once you are done with your adjustments, save your image and your updates by going to File, Archive > Save. You can also go to File, Archive > Save as if you want to keep a copy of the original unmodified image.

Save photo in Photoshop Screenshot
How to Make Your Photos Sharper Using Photoshop

Sharpening Your Photos in Photoshop: Things to Keep in Mind

Once you’ve completed the steps above, you should have a much better image. When sharpening your photo, you should do so in small amounts. If you take things too far, your image may look too grainy or unrealistic, and you’re unlikely to achieve the style of photography you want.

Low Filter > Sharpen, you will see other sharpening tools that you can use. However, they are less versatile than the Smart Sharpen tool.

Fixing your blurry photos

If you’re a photographer looking to up your image editing game, Adobe Photoshop is an excellent tool. You’ll find plenty of useful features to help bring your creations to life, and sharpening your photos is one of them. While it won’t work if your image is blurry beyond repair, the pencil sharpener is useful if you want to make simple adjustments.

Now that you know how to sharpen your images in Photoshop, why not try this feature yourself?

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