High Pass Filter: Rx For Blurry Photos

with 63 Comments

Blurry photos are the pits. Especially when they’re of important events.

Case in point: I did a series of senior grad photos for a friend a few years ago and got a lot of really great photos, but wouldn’t you know . . . one of my favorites was blurry upon closer examination.

I’m talking about the kind of photo that looks fine on the LCD screen, even when you zoom in a bit, but when you actually download the photo and view it on your computer, you can immediately tell that the focus is too soft.


But wait—there is a possible solution—as long as it isn’t too blurry. Try the High Pass Filter in Photoshop or Photoshop Elements. I filmed a tutorial about this for Scrapbook Memories TV a few years ago, but thought I would share it with you here, just in case you haven’t seen it.

You’ll be taking a lot of photos in 2011, right? That means you’ll need this technique, because, chances are, some of your favorite photos will be slightly blurry. I use the High Pass filter so often that I’ve actually made a Photoshop action for it, complete with a layer mask to mask away areas you don’t want to sharpen.

(Watch the video for the masking tip, which I didn’t include in the Scrapbook Memories TV version.)

In the video it may be hard for you to see the difference made by the High Pass filter, so here’s a closeup before and after:

before and after High Pass filter

Here’s the page I made with my “blurry” photo:

Senior Year Portrait
Senior Year

To watch the video, click on your version below.

Download a PDF manual with the written steps for the High Pass Filter technique.

63 Responses

  1. Megan
    | Reply

    Oh wow you saved me! I had a gorgeous picture that was totally blurred. What I normally do to correct it wasn’t working and I’ve never been able to sort out the high pass filter on my own. It totally worked, and I found that for my lighter style of photography, merging the photos under the pin light setting actually had the best effect. So if anyone out there tries this and finds the overlay is too grainy, play around with the options and you’ll almost certainly find a good fit. Thanks!

    ps I’ll be posting the result on facebook.com/emmaandnatephotography shortly if you want to see how it turned out 🙂

  2. allen
    | Reply

    well..nice post

  3. Geri
    | Reply

    Great! I can try this on fuzzy photos of my ggrandson. Thank you.

  4. jana
    | Reply

    thanks for the tutorial. I will put this to good use. One question I had about it, was it said to mask over the portions that you didn’t want the filter to pass over. I was wondering how that is done.

  5. Linda Sattgast
    | Reply

    I’m glad to hear that this has been a timely tip for many of you!

  6. Ashley
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing. Over the last couple of days I’ve been trying to figure out how to fix a couple of recent shots of my son.

  7. TracEy :o)~
    | Reply

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I have wondered so many times how to get my photos to clear up a bit! Perfect timing because I was just scrapbooking a digital layout and needed this tutorial to clear up a photo. Thank you so much again.

  8. AKrubygal
    | Reply

    thank you so much for this helpful and timely video. I appreciate it!

  9. Hx
    | Reply

    Well, I’m late to class as per usual!! 🙂 Thanks for this fab gift of yet another brilliant tutorial, Linda… no doubt I’ll enjoy fixing my many blurry photos throughout 2011!
    I hope you had a wonderful Christmas and enjoy a happy and healthy new year with your family and friends.
    Again, many thanks for all you do and for your lovely gifts,

  10. Vivian
    | Reply

    I tried this out on a photo that I honestly thought did not need any “fixin”. WOW! Was I ever surprised at the improvement. Thank you so much for this tutorial.

  11. Judy A
    | Reply

    I love this and ALL of your great tutorials. Thank you so much for sharing and helping us with these wonderful time-saving tips! You are Awesome!!

  12. Christy Williamson
    | Reply

    I’ve used this technique since I saw it on Scrapbook Memories – it’s awesome!

  13. crush4dolphins
    | Reply

    Thank you thats a great technique!

  14. Joanna B
    | Reply

    Happy New Year to you and your family.
    Thank you for the great tips and the wonderful video’s.

  15. Nancy D.
    | Reply

    Thank you – I had this happen with a family Christmas picture so I’m going to see how it works!

  16. Linda Sattgast
    | Reply

    I wish you all a Happy New Year filled with all of God’s best blessings!

  17. Lindalva10
    | Reply

    Thank so much Linda. It’s beautiful tip.You are the best…..GOD BLESS YOU. HAPPY NEW YEAR.

  18. debbie
    | Reply

    thanks for this wonderful tip, so many photos have been tossed but not any more. Happy New Year

  19. francey
    | Reply

    Thank you Linda and a very happy New Year to you! I would love to see a video in the store for tips on photography like this 🙂 You are a wealth of information!

  20. countrydi
    | Reply

    Thank you so much Linda! You are such a wonderful person!
    I have hand shake so this will be great! Do you have this video for sale? Or is there a way to save these videos? I saved the PDF but I learn so much better with videos, your voice really helps.
    Thank you again and have a WONDERFUL, HAPPY, HEALTHY NEW YEAR!

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      Why don’t you bookmark this page? We’ll be leaving it up, so you can refresh your memory any time, but I guarantee that if you use this filter as often as I do, you will soon have it totally memorized! LOL!

      • Countrydi
        | Reply

        Thanks Linda….I will do that. Maybe with end up trying to make an action too. I think you did that right?

  21. Erika
    | Reply

    This is a fantastic tip – thanks for sharing it with us. South Africa is also having fine weather now, nice and warm – swimming and tanning time and also typical summer thunder storms. Blessings to you all for 2011.

  22. Ann Field
    | Reply

    THANK YOU!! The small gift was huge for me. I am working on the last pages of what my grandson calls the Field Family Book and have discovered that I took fuzzy picture or poorly lighted pictures of an entire event. With the cameral raw info from the class and the new hight pass info I should be able to save at least enough pictures to make a memory. The PDFs are such a help.

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      I hope you can redeem a good number of those photos!

  23. Donna
    | Reply

    Thank you for sharing this. I just took some pictures last Sunday that turned out a little blurry. I hope I can fix them armed with the knowledge you have shared.

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      I hope so, too!

  24. Linda Sattgast
    | Reply

    Thanks for all your wonderful comments! I’m so pleased that you have found this tip useful!

  25. shirl
    | Reply

    Thank you for this wonderful imformation. I started using it in 5 before I went into the hospital in 2008. The added tips with the alternate blending mode is the perfect solution that I need. Blessings and prayers to everyone.

  26. Joyce Davis
    | Reply

    Thanks for yet another great video. I’m asking the Lord to continue richly blessing you and your family. You are such a generous person, always willing to share your expertise and talent. Please know how much I, as I’m sure all the others, appreciate all you do for us.

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      Thanks, Joyce!

  27. Denise
    | Reply

    Happy New Year’s to you and your family. I just love learning from you, as you are so sweet and patient. You never yell at me or any thing. When I get detracted, you just let me have my way until I start concentrating again. You don’t even mind going back and telling me everything all over again. You are the best!

    • Linda Sattgast
      | Reply

      Denise, you’re hilarious! Yes, that’s partly why I love video tutorials myself!

  28. Peggy
    | Reply

    What a great Tip, Linda!
    Thanks so much for all the inspiration you provide a novice scrapper.
    It is great to have the resources available.
    Happy New Year to you and your family.

  29. Patricia
    | Reply

    Just this morning I found half-dozen photos from a birthday party that were all slightly out of focus! I was going to toss them, but put them aside to check my emails, and there was your solution to photos I almost dumped! Thanks so much for this unexpected “gift! – and a very happy new year to all of you!


  30. Sharron Lamb
    | Reply

    Linda, thanks for the lesson AND the PDF. I need to print stuff like this out, or I forget it.

  31. Cherri
    | Reply

    Thanks from me too! Love all your tips and tricks! Have a great New Year.

  32. Jo Gamma
    | Reply

    I can’t wait to try this since of course there is a Christmas photo of my grandson that I love but is blurry. Thanks so much, Happy New Year.

  33. Linda Sattgast
    | Reply

    I’m glad to hear that so many of you already see a need for the High Pass filter.

    Here’s one more tip: If you have a lot of digital noise on a photo and you use a filter or some kind of software to get rid of the noise, it often softens the focus, so I will run the High Pass filter right after the noise reduction step, and that definitely sharpens up the photo.

  34. Sandi Street
    | Reply

    Thank you so much, this will help me a lot as my photography skills (no matter how great I think I did) are always distorted in some manner so this will help me clean it up.
    Very Best to you all for the Very Happy and Prosperous New Year.

  35. connie
    | Reply

    Thank you so much. There is always some photos we throw out because of this. I will definitely be using this technique. I have enjoyed the newsletter, premier membership and the class I am currently taking. Sometimes when you get new microsoft software and a new scrapbook software at the same time it is overwhelming. These tutorials & classes have been sooooo helpful. Thanks you for sharing with us. It is appreciated.

  36. Kathie
    | Reply

    Wow, this is terrific! I find, much like the photo you used, the camera will occasionally choose a focus point from a busy background. Now I know how to salvage those pics! But, darn, I already deleted a couple because I didn’t know I could fix them! Thank you for the tools!

  37. Susan
    | Reply

    Exactly what I needed this morning — Thank you, Linda! This technique will be very helpful, and I love that you can remove some of the filter as well.

    Happiest New Year!

  38. Jackie Wood
    | Reply

    I got this video when it first came out and used it often. But I lost the tutorial and when I couldn’t remember how to do it I went back to the old way with the sharpen, but it just wasn’t the same. I’m so glad that you sent this out. I now have it back again and can use it. I’ll put into a safe place.

  39. Sandy
    | Reply

    Thank you so much!! I know I already have photos I can use this on!!

  40. Martha Robinson
    | Reply

    This is exactly what I need for some of my Christmas photos! Thanks so much for all you do. Hope you have a wonderful New Year!

  41. chan
    | Reply

    Thanks so much for the tip. Like some of the others I have deleted great pictures.Is there a download for the video? Have a wonderful,healthy New Year to all.

  42. Fran
    | Reply

    I couldn’t wait to tell you how great I think this information is! We took family pictures at Christmas and I was devastated when I realized they were just not quite as clear as they needed to be. I have just completed using the High Pass Filter on my pictures and I am so amazed at how much better they look! Wow, this is terriffic! Thanks again!

  43. Fran
    | Reply

    Happy New Year to you and your family! I’m like a lot of other people- I really needed this video and manual! I have learned so much from you and your wonderful associates; I can’t thank you enough! I am looking forward to 2011 and more fun with digital scrapping!

  44. Terri
    | Reply

    Thanks for sharing another wonderful video and manual. From my family to yours, Happy and Safe Holidays and a FAB New Year ; )

  45. Shirlee
    | Reply

    Thank you so much for yet another great tip on something that I have never done. It will be much easier with your explanation.

    I wish you and your family a Happy New Year filled with health and happiness. Thanks for all your encouragement to try new things and create wonderful layouts using the digital tips.

  46. Jacqueline
    | Reply

    Thanks for all the lessons.
    Wishing you a HAPPY NEW YEAR, and all the best for 2011, from Holland.

  47. Linda Sattgast
    | Reply

    You’re welcome, everyone! I think we’re hearing from the other half of the world that is awake now. 🙂 I’d better get to bed myself!

  48. Lynn
    | Reply

    That is really useful, thank you :). I hope you and your family have a very happy New Year :).

  49. Renee
    | Reply

    Happy New Year to you and your family! Thanks for this awesome video and the PDF download – you are always so generous in sharing these great tips:)…now I just have to remember at least half of them!!!lol.

  50. Mem
    | Reply

    Thanks heaps Linda! Pity about all those slightly out of focus pictures I have deleted over the years. Easy technique – once someone points you in the right direction. Have a wonderful and Happy New Year. It’s going to be 40 degrees (CENTIGRADE) here in southern Australia for New Years celebrations.

  51. Diane (diney)
    | Reply

    Thanks for always supplying us with great help in making our pictures and layouts the best! I really appreciate the newsletter and have learned so much. Thanks again for your generosity with your time and talents!

  52. dimorr
    | Reply

    Thank-you for this. As usual, a simple thing to do… it’s just knowing which buttons to press!

    All the best to you for 2011.

  53. Joan Storm
    | Reply

    Blessed are the givers…
    and grateful are the receivers!
    Just can’t thank You enough!
    This is a great tip and I will use it often with many photos.

    Again, thanks for all the tips and videos from your site.

  54. Shari Y
    | Reply

    Thanks, That is a wonderful tip. I have learned so much from your tips and from your website. Hope to be able to sign up for the monthly kits again soon.

  55. Deanie
    | Reply

    Linda (and family) – many many thanks for this video – something I have been trying to find for ages! May your family and 2011 be blessed.

    Best regards

    • Ingrid Aspelin
      | Reply

      Linda, fantastic! I am going to use this technique a lot! Thanks!!
      I wish you, your family and your staff a very happy and successful 2011!

      Ingrid, Österlen, Sweden

    • Karen D
      | Reply

      Thank you so much for the Blurry Photos technique. You all are so smart at the things that you do. Happy Holidays to all of you. Karen

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