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High Pass filter

Do you work with a lot of images in Photoshop?

Couple of years ago I came across the ‘high pass’ filter (Menu > Filter > Other > High Pass) which can be used to enhance good quality images, help with blurred imagery and create stunning effect photos. but if your trying to create new styles to your photo, this filter highlight’s the smallest of details, mix that with a black and white overlay and you could change the whole feel of the photograph.

I’m going to show you few steps to using the filter followed by an example of how we used it in a recent project for a client.

This process can be repeated on the same image numerous times depending on how far you want to take the look. Remember, build up slowly and keep referring back to the original, so that you don’t wreck a good photo by over sharpening the image.

Step one: Open up the required image and convert to RGB (Menu > Image > Mode > RGB). Then in the Layers palette, double click the layer to unlock it from the background, then duplicate twice so you have three copies of the same layer. Label the bottom one up as Original, the middle as Middle and the top as Top.

Step two: With the Top layer highlighted, go Menu > Filter > Other > High Pass. You should now see you image with a grey overlay with near white highlights all over. What I suggest is move the slider to between 1-3 pixels and click ‘OK’.

Step three: Back to the Layers palette, top left you will see Normal, drop down to Overlay. To really see the difference the High Pass filter has made, toggle the ‘eye’ icon at the side of the Top layer.

Step four: Duplicate the Middle layer and move ‘Middle copy’ above the Top layer; you should have four layers in your palette now? So now merge the Top and Middle layers together (command + E) or Menu > Layer > Merge layers.

This merged layer can now be renamed ‘Filter 1’.

Step five: With three layers left, repeat ‘step two’ adding slightly more pixels to the High Pass filter. For example, if tried 1-3 pixels in step two and it wasn’t sharp enough try 4-6 pixels this time. Using this filter is trial and error depending on your original image. By repeating steps 2-4 and naming each merged layer in succession, you can toggle each on and off to see the difference more or less pixels, in the filter, have made.

How we combined this method with a duotone to create some serene section dividers.

Firstly, we followed the above steps 1-5. Once we had our sharpened image we then resized it to give a double page width and retouched the left hand side to suit. Then we changed the image to a Grayscale (Menu > Image > Mode > Greyscale).

Next step was to change the image to a Duotone (Menu > Image > Mode > Duotone). Now you have the option to add a colour layer to your grayscale image. We used a cmyk split that we had used throughout the brochure (0m 9m 9y 50k) as ‘Ink 2. Here we used the curves for both Ink 1 and Ink 2 to achieve a subtle addition of colour.

If you have some spare time it is always worth playing around with colours and filters to see what effects you can achieve.

This filter is great for enhancing photo’s that include water, and facial close up’s for that unique style to a photograph. Play around with colour tints and the level of pixels in the high pass filter for all kinds of results.

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